Dawson-Boyd is Class A runner-up

MINNEAPOLIS - Well, at least one Viking team has won at TCF Bank Stadium this weekend. In the Class A Prep Bowl final matching members of the Little Sioux Conference, the Minneota Vikings stampeded the Dawson-Boyd Blackjacks 28-14 early Saturday ...

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Garrett Hennen smashes into the Jack's defense in one of his 29 carries.
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MINNEAPOLIS – Well, at least one Viking team has won at TCF Bank Stadium this weekend.

In the Class A Prep Bowl final matching members of the Little Sioux Conference, the Minneota Vikings stampeded the Dawson-Boyd Blackjacks 28-14 early Saturday afternoon.

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With Garrett Hennen leading the charge (29 carries for 181 yards), the Vikings piled up 283 yards on the ground.
“We saw we had some success running the first time we played them and that's really what we wanted to do,” said Minneota coach Chad Johnson. “We ran it really well with the exception of the [five fumbles, two lost]. We don't ordinarily do that. We fumbled more today than I think we did all year.”

Those miscues kept the game close until the final two minutes, but the Vikings’ ownership of the line of scrimmage kept the Blackjacks off balance on the mild 36 degree day on the heated stadium turf.

The 2013 Class AA runners-up led 20-7 at halftime and secured the victory as Cole Hennen rambled 51 yards with 2:34 left in the fourth quarter for the final bulge.


The Blackjacks had little room for error against the Vikings, who dealt them their only previous loss, 33-21, on Sept. 26. Nor could they afford to lose their top rusher.

Dalton Palmer (1,830 yards, 20 TDs) re-injured his right knee, sprained in the section semifinal, and was helped off after carrying for no yardage on the Jacks’ first play from scrimmage. He came back to carry eight times for 25 yards and a touchdown before leaving the game for good in the second quarter when he popped his left shoulder while blocking.

“It wasn’t part of our game plan to pass 30 times,” commented Blackjacks’ coach Cory Larson in the stadium corridor under the stands.

Junior quarterback Jess Hansen actually threw 39 times for 170 yards on 23 completions with one late interception. The Vikings’ defense sacked him seven times and recorded two other tackles for loss.

“Some of that was on us,” said Larson. “There were times we had six blocking three and we still didn’t execute.”

While injury nullified much of the Jacks’ rushing game, the Vikings kept the Jacks’ other six-shooter in the holster with double coverage. Michael Lee did have a nine catches for 70 yards but in the red zone the Vikings’ blanket attention really paid off.

The Blackjacks were outmanned on the line of scrimmage where Minneota returned all their linemen from last’s year’s team that went 13-1 and lost to Chatfield 17-7 in the AA championship game at the Dome.

Zach Stratmoen was the lone lineman back for Dawson-Boyd, which lost to Mahnomen in the Class A final.


“We knew we had to stop the run and make them pass,” said Stratmoen, adding “It was pretty cool playing here.”

The Vikings’ asserted themselves on the game’s first possession driving 69 yards on land for a 6-0 lead. Cousins Garrett, a junior, and Cole, a senior, got the ball eight of the 10 snaps.

By halftime the Vikings had rushed for 177 yards in 23 snaps compared to 24 net yards in 15 attempts by the Jacks.

Minneota deploys a freshman quarterback, Alex Pohlen, who would throw just six times, completing four for 43 yards, including seven yards to Nicholas Esping for a 12-0 lead as the first quarter ended.

Palmer’s sweep around his left end from three yards made it 12-7 on Easton Popma’s conversion kick but the Vikings posted another score when Esping recovered Garrett Hennen’s fumble in the Blackjacks’ end zone for a 20-7 halftime bulge.

Dawson-Boyd made it 20-14 when Hansen threw a spot-on pass to Hunter Olson (8 catches, 64 yards) at the goal-line corner on fourth and six on the first play of the fourth quarter.

Dawson-Boyd had one more possession with only a TD separating the teams but was forced to punt with 6:62 left. A minute later, Cole Hennen sailed around his right end and down the sideline for a 51-yard score and a 26-14 margin.

 “The Vikings are an excellent football team,” said the Dawson-Boyd head coach. “I couldn’t say this before the season, but I can now. After they finished runner-up in AA a year ago and had so many players back, I thought they’d be the Class A champs.”


Larson pointed out to his troops in the post-game locker room that they are a huge part of a great run by the Blackjacks.

“You can only play a maximum of 56 games in four years and Dawson-Boyd has played 55,” he told them. “You can look back and feel pretty proud.”

Through 2010, the Blackjacks’ had never sent a football team to the state tournament. Since they have won a State Championship (2011) and two runner-up trophies and reached the final four in 2012.

“It’s bittersweet,” said senior co-captain Karson Lindblad, who rushed six times for 11 yards and made five solo tackles. “It’s great to be in the state championship game. I’m proud of my teammates and glad to be part of this team.”

Top tacklers for the Jacks (12-2) were Wyatt Ireland, Dalton Kostad, Eli Weber and Noah Stelter.

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