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Prep Bowl 2016: Grand Meadow, Caledonia to defend titles

Grand Meadow and Caledonia are the only defending champions that have survived the first two rounds of tournament play. Nine teams that made it to their respective championship games still boast unblemished records.

Grand Meadow and Caledonia are the only defending champions that have survived the first two rounds of tournament play. Nine teams that made it to their respective championship games still boast unblemished records.

The Superlarks of Grand Meadow are making their fifth consecutive and ninth overall appearance and seek their fourth consecutive and overall title in Class 9-Man. They were the top-ranked team in this year's final Associated Press (AP) poll. The Class AA defending champion Caledonia Warriors are making their third consecutive and 12th overall appearance. They were the No. 1-ranked team in this year's final AP poll and won previous titles in 1976, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, and 2012.

Today's games

Class 9-Man

Grand Meadow (13-0) vs. Cleveland (13-0), 10 a.m.

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The three-time defending champions from Grand Meadow return in search of more gold. The Superlarks, who were ranked No. 1 in this year's final AP poll, are making their fifth consecutive appearance and ninth overall. The Cleveland/Immanuel Lutheran Clippers closed the season ranked No. 2 in the final AP poll. They fell in the quarterfinals of the 2015 tournament and are making their second consecutive and overall appearance under this name. Cleveland made one additional appearance in 2007.

Grand Meadow rushed for 4,662 yards this season. Senior Christophor Bain led the Superlarks with 2,055 yards on 145 rush attempts, which was good for 37 touchdowns. Bain also paced the defense with 29 unassisted tackles, one fumble recovery, and two interceptions. Junior Zach Myhre added 1,078 rushing yards on 110 attempts for 17 touchdowns. Myhre also caught eight passes for an additional 212 yards and two touchdowns. Senior quarterback Brenn Olson completed 41 of his 78 passing attempts for 972 yards and 13 touchdowns. Olson also ran for 394 yards and an additional five touchdowns. Grand Meadow averages 54.2 points per game while holding its opponents to 15.7 points per game.

Cleveland/Immanuel Lutheran prefers to keep the ball in the air. The Clippers passed for 3,164 yards and ran for 2,136 yards this year. Junior quarterback Carter Kopet completed 191 of 298 passing attempts for 2,552 yards and 51 touchdowns. Kopet also rushed for 567 yards and an additional seven touchdowns. Junior Carter Brink led the running game with 610 yards on 92 attempts. Gavin Wenker, a senior, paced Cleveland/Immanuel Lutheran's defense with 114 tackles. Senior Jaiden Ziska had four interceptions for the Clippers during the regular season. Cleveland/Immanuel Lutheran averages 46.5 points per game while holding opponents to 13.0 points per game.

Class AA

Caledonia (13-0) vs. Eden Valley-Watkins (11-1), 1 p.m.

The top-ranked Warriors of Caledonia return to defend their 2015 title. This is their third consecutive appearance and their 12th overall. In addition to last year, the Warriors also won titles in 1976, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, and 2012. Eden Valley-Watkins returns for its ninth appearance, but first since 2010. The Eagles were ranked No. 4 in the final AP poll and are in the hunt for their second title. They won their first in 2005.

Caledonia splits its time between its air and ground games. The Warriors passed for 2,242 yards and year and rushed for another 2,248. Senior Ben McCabe led the ground game for Caledonia. He gained 1,259 yards on 170 carries and scored 17 touchdowns. The Warriors' junior quarterback, Owen King, completed 133 of his 217 pass attempts for 2,084 yards and 34 touchdowns. King's favorite target was senior Andrew Goergen. Goergen tallied 73 receptions this year for 1,109 yards and 19 touchdowns. Senior Brandon Robley led Caledonia's defense with 50 tackles and one fumble recovery. The Warriors averaged 43.9 points per game this season and their opponents averaged 9.6 against them.

Eden Valley-Watkins also splits its time between the passing and rushing games. The Eagles rushed for 2,419 yards and completed 160 of 238 passing attempts for an additional 2,544 yards. Senior Markell York-Ramirez had 11 rushing touchdowns for the Eagles and totaled 802 yards on 143 attempts. Senior quarterback Reese Jansen added an additional five rushing touchdowns with 323 yards on 52 carries. Jansen also completed 159 of 237 pass attempts for 2,534 yards and 31 touchdowns. Greg Lux, another senior, paced Eden Valley-Watkins' defense with 79 tackles and one fumble recovery. The Eagles did not provide team scoring averages.

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Class AAAA

Winona (11-1) vs. Benilde-St. Margaret's (9-3), 4 p.m.

Winona, which was ranked No. 6 in the final AP poll, returns for its second appearance. The Winhawks made their only other appearance in 1987. Unranked Benilde-St. Margaret's returns for its second consecutive appearance and third overall under this name. The Red Knights made one additional appearance as a co-op with Groves Academy of St. Louis Park in 2006. Benilde-St. Margaret's fell in the quarterfinals of the 2015 tournament.

The Winhawks of Winona run a stellar ground game and they accumulated 2,819 rushing yards this season. Junior Robert Warren scored 10 rushing touchdowns on 124 carries for 819 yards. Senior Alex Franzwa added eight touchdowns on 90 carries and accumulated 575 yards. Junior quarterback Riley Bosteter completed 85 of his 159 pass attempts for 14 touchdowns. Brody Hogenson, a senior, paced Winona's defense with 186 tackles and one fumble recovery. Senior Matt Monahan added 105 tackles for the Winhawks with one fumble recovery and three interceptions. Winona averages 30.6 points this season to its opponents' 12.8.

The Benilde-St. Margaret's Red Knights also prefer to keep the ball on the ground. They gained 2,132 rushing yards and another 1,081 yards on 74 completed passes. Benilde-St. Margaret's did not provide additional team or individual statistics.

Class AAAAAA

Totino-Grace (12-0) vs. Eden Prairie (11-1), 7 p.m.

Top-ranked Totino-Grace returns for its eighth consecutive and 26th overall appearance. The Eagles lost in the semifinals of the 2015 tournament and are looking for their 10th championship. They won previously in 1977, 1989, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, and 2012. Eden Prairie is making its 11th consecutive and 20th overall appearance. The Eagles lost to Totino-Grace in last year's quarterfinals by a score of 27-13. Eden Prairie is looking for its 11th title. The Eagles won previously in 1996, 1997, 2000, 2002, 2006, 2007, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014. This year, Eden Prairie finished at No. 2 in the final AP poll.

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The Totino-Grace Eagles like to keep the ball on the ground and they accumulated 2,759 rushing yards this year. Senior Gayflor Flomo carried the ball 158 times and tallied 949 yards and 17 touchdowns. Senior Kyle Halverson is the quarterback for Totino-Grace. He completed 85 of 147 pass attempts this season and racked up 1,225 yards and 14 touchdowns. Senior Brady Bertram caught 27 passes this year for 279 yards and 11 touchdowns. Senior Jared Florell led the Eagles' defense with 79 tackles, one fumble recovery, and two interceptions. Totino-Grace averages 35.6 points per game this season and their opponents' average 10.7 against them.

Eden Prairie also likes to keep the ball on the ground. The Eagles rushed for 3,101 yards and completed 50 of 91 passing attempts for 966 yards this year. Junior Solo Falaniko rushed for 1,368 yards and scored 17 touchdowns on 182 carries. Sophomore quarterback Cole Kramer ran the passing game with 747 yards and 11 touchdowns on 38 completions. Kramer's favorite target was senior Kyle Connelly who had 15 receptions for 400 yards and five touchdowns. The Eagles average 34.5 points per game while their opponents average 5.8 points against them.

Saturday's games

Class A

Rushford-Peterson (13-1) vs. Minneapolis North (12-0), 10 a.m.

The No. 9-ranked Trojans of Rushford-Peterson look to win their fourth championship under this name. They won previously in 2002, 2004, and 2006. Rushford-Peterson is making its eighth appearance overall, but first since 2008. Rushford made one additional appearance in 1988. Minneapolis North Community looks to improve on last year's runner-up showing. It is the third consecutive and sixth overall appearance for the Polars, who enter the tournament ranked No. 2 in the final AP poll.

The Trojans of Rushford-Peterson gained 3,079 yards on the ground this season. They also completed 90 of 142 pass attempts for another 1,598 yards. Senior Noah Carlson led the rushing charge with 2,356 yards and 36 touchdowns on 299 carries. Carlson also had 66 tackles and tallied three interceptions for Rushford-Peterson. Sophomore quarterback Landon Skalet completed 89 of his 139 pass attempts for 1,598 yards and 19 touchdowns. Junior Dawson Dahl paced the Trojans defense with 75 tackles, one fumble recovery, and one interception. Rushford-Peterson averages 37.2 points per game this season to their opponents' 12.6 points per game. Minneapolis North Community did not provide team or individual statistics.

Class AAA

Rochester Lourdes (12-0) vs. St. Croix Lutheran (12-0), 1 p.m.

The Eagles of Rochester Lourdes return to tournament action after a one-year absence to make their 12th appearance. The Eagles have earned three championships - in 1979, 2010, and 2014. This year's Rochester Lourdes squad was ranked No. 3 in the final AP poll. The Crusaders of St. Croix Lutheran return to make their sixth consecutive and seventh appearance overall appearance. The Crusaders, who lost in the quarterfinals last year, were ranked No. 1 in this year's final AP poll. St. Croix Lutheran won previous titles in 2011 and 2013.

Rochester Lourdes accumulated 3,437 yards on the ground and 689 in the air. Senior quarterback Noah Hillman led the Eagles with 21 rushing touchdowns on 120 carries for 959 yards. Hillman also completed 48 of 101 passing attempts for 689 yards and six touchdowns. Carter Greguson, another senior, added 17 rushing touchdowns with 1,730 yards on 215 attempts. Greguson also led Rochester Lourdes' defense with 150 tackles and one interception. The Eagles did not provide scoring averages.

St. Croix Lutheran also prefers to keep the ball on the ground. The Crusaders rushed for 3,451 yards and completed 57 of 110 passing attempts for 1,056 yards this year. Junior Michael Stern rushed for 1,342 yards and scored 16 touchdowns on 172 carries. Stern also had 39 tackles to lead St. Croix Lutheran's defense. Senior quarterback Isaac Tietz ran the passing game with 1,056 yards and 17 touchdowns on 57 completions. Tietz also rushed for 14 touchdowns and gained 724 yards on 111 rushing attempts. St. Croix Lutheran did not provide scoring averages.

Class AAAAA

Elk River (12-0) vs. Spring Lake Park (12-0), 4 p.m.

The Elks of Elk River return for their seventh appearance, but first since 2012. They were ranked No. 1 in this year's final AP poll. The Panthers of Spring Lake Park return for their third consecutive and seventh overall appearance. They lost in the quarterfinals in 2015 and came in at No. 3 in this year's final AP poll. If the Panthers win, it would be their second championship. They won their first in 1991.

Elk River rushed for 5,383 yards this season while netting 319 yards passing. Seniors Nicholas Rice and Sam Gibas led the ground game for the Elks. Rice scored 22 touchdowns on 168 rushing attempts and gained 1,912 yards. Gibas added 21 touchdowns on 145 carries for 1,225 yards. Senior quarterback Blake Hills completed 58 percent of his pass attempts and threw for three touchdowns. Junior Mitchell Stroh led Elk River's defense with 89 tackles, one interception, and one fumble recovery. Hill and senior Noah Weege had eight and four interceptions, respectively, for the Elks. Elk River averages 45.2 points per game and their opponents average 12.0 against them.

Spring Lake Park also prefers to keep the ball on the ground and compiled 4,400 rushing yards this year. Seniors Zachary Ojile and Anthony Fleischfresser gained 1,675 and 733 yards on the ground, respectively. Ojile carried the ball 202 times and ran for 14 touchdowns and Fleischfresser carried the ball 137 times and tallied 11 touchdowns. Ojile also completed 49 percent of his pass attempts for 231 yards and five touchdowns. Senior Jackson Dahl anchored Spring Lake Park's defense with 109 tackles, three fumble recoveries, and one interception. The Panthers average 32.0 points per game and their opponents average 12.0 against them.

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