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State Football: BOLD ignoring title talk

BOLD quarterback Jordan Sagedahl stiff-arms a Minneota defender on a first-half run during the Section 5A championship game on Friday at Southwest Minnesota State in Marshall. BOLD won 49-7. Tom Larson / Tribune1 / 2
BOLD's Luke Ryan hauls in one of his three touchdown passes from quarterback Jordan Sagedahl during the Section 5A championship game on Friday at Southwest Minnesota State in Marshall. BOLD won 49-7. Tom Larson / Tribune2 / 2

The talk in some football circles this fall held that the Section 5A final was the de facto Class A state championship game.

Minneota, the defending state champion, entered the Nov. 2 game undefeated and ranked No. 1 in Class A. BOLD also was 10-0 and ranked No. 2.

In the previous nine seasons, Minneota had played in six state tournaments, won four Class A state championships, and was the Class AA state runner-up in 2013.

So when BOLD whipped the Vikings 49-7 last Friday in Marshall and headed home after collecting the 5A championship trophy, many believed the Class A state championship trophy could have just as well been put on the bus, too.

But the Warriors would be the first to shush such premature talk.

Given their up-close-and-personal relationship with playoff heartbreak, the Warriors’ focus is solely, intently, on their state quarterfinal matchup with Otter Tail Central at noon Saturday in Alexandria.

Since 2010, BOLD has lost section championship games five times, including three in a row (2015-2017). In 2012, the Warriors lost to eventual state champion Caledonia by two points in the Class AA state semifinals, and they lost the 2014 Class AA state championship game to Holdingford in double overtime.

Despite being one of the state’s premier programs the last three decades -- head coach Steve Solem is 289-79 in his 33-year career -- the Warriors haven’t experienced the ultimate victory since back-to-back state titles in 1990 and 1991.

In 2018, three victories shy of that goal in Solem’s final year on the sidelines, the Warriors are not about to relax and presume anything is in the bag.

This year’s eight-team Class A field includes five teams ranked among the state’s top six, and three of those teams -- which are a combined 31-0 -- are on BOLD’s side of the bracket.

Should BOLD survive a gauntlet that includes OTC (10-0, No. 5) and either United South Central (10-0, No. 6) or Blooming Prairie (11-0, No. 4), the Warriors would likely meet Mahnomen/Waubun (10-0, No. 3) in the final. M/W is a first-year pairing that has a combined 30 state tournament appearances and eight state championships.

Mahnomen has played in the last nine state tournaments -- 26 since 1974 -- and won the 2012 and 2013 Class A state championships. Waubun teams played in the 2015 and 2016 state tournaments.

On paper, the BOLD and Otter Tail teams look very similar. BOLD averages almost 420 yards per game and gives up about 196 per game while the Bulldogs put up 425 total yards per game and surrender 200 per game.

BOLD quarterback Jordan Sagedahl has hit 68 of 106 passes for 1,623 yards and 26 touchdowns and just one interception.

OTC quarterback Nick Van Erp has completed 80 of 135 throws for 1,529 yards, 24 TDs and two picks.

Neither team has a 1,000-yard back but feature a trio of highly efficient ball carriers. The Warriors’ Sagedahl (41-525, 8 TDs), Gavin Vosika (52-511, 11 TDs) and John Burman (44-482, 5 TDs) have a combined 1,518 yards on 137 carries -- and average of 11 yards per carry -- and 24 scores.

The Bulldogs’ Austin Wensauer leads the team with 827 yards and 14 touchdowns and he, Van Erp (69-772, 11 TDs) and Max Naddy (67-491, 7 TDs) have combined for 32 TDs.

As for explosive passing, that’s a toss up, too: BOLD’s Luke Ryan (35-932, 18 TDs) and Gavin Vosika (30-616, 10 scores) have combined for almost 24 yards per reception while the Bulldogs’ Blake Wallevand (35-690, 10 TDs) and Sam Fisher (18-436, 9 TDs) average about 21 yards per catch.

Turnovers could tell the tale. BOLD has just the one interception and has lost five fumbles while forcing 39 turnovers.

OTC has forced 15 fumbles and Wallevand has eight interceptions, but the Bulldogs have lost 13 fumbles and BOLD’s Ryan has been a defensive ball hawk, with a state-leading 12 interceptions, four of which have been returned for touchdowns.