Cover photo from hudl.com
Minneota is known for a wide open offense with multiple receivers and formations. When it came down to it for Minneota, it was turning around, handing the ball to your Mr. Football candidate to run behind an offensive line that dominated when it mattered. The Vikings are not known for their defense either, but maybe after today, they will. They gave up thirteen points, and seven of those came off a two-yard drive. Minneota won their second title in three years with a 28-13 victory over Wabasso – the only team to beat the Vikings in the last three years – for the 1A title.
Here are five moments that shaped Minneota's victory.
Both teams struggled to pick up first downs early in the game, but Wabasso was winning the field position game. It paid off late in the first quarter when Minneota had to punt from deep in its own territory. Nick Altermatt for Wabasso came right up the middle on the punt block and blocked the punt. Isaac Schmiesing recovered the ball to set up the Rabbits at the two-yard line. One play later Wabasso would punch it in for an early lead.
Tied at seven, Wabasso was on the move. Cooper Taylor's 40-yard run - the biggest offensive play of the first half - set up the Rabbits inside the twenty. Minneota's Cole Sanow stuffed quarterback Altermatt on third and three. Then with a 4th and four, Minneota's Ethan Krier stuffed a run into the middle for one of his seven tackles.
Late in the second quarter, the Vikings re-discovered running back Isaac Hennen and the offensive line. For the majority of the first half, the Vikings' offense spread the ball around with varied results. Backed up on their own ten-yard line with six minutes to play in the half it was the Isaac Hennen show. Getting behind the offensive line of Krier, Trent Esping, Mitchell Rost, Cole VanOverbeke, and Ty Lipinski they dominated on the final drive of the 2nd quarter. Minneota fed Hennen as the Vikings went with power formations. Facing a 3rd and ten Hennen took the handoff for a touchdown behind a trap block by 52 right up the middle. On the drive, Hennen carried the ball nine times for 94 yards on a ten play, 90-yard drive.
Injuries to big-time players altered the game – especially for the Rabbits. Hennen was in and out of the line up most of the game with some sort of leg issue. He did something to it on a run in the first half but with Hennen finishing with 34 carries, 289 yards, and three touchdowns. Wabasso was not as fortunate. Late in the third quarter, Wabasso's Cooper Taylor would go out of the game and not return. He led the team in rushing with 79 yards and better than six yards a carry.
Down by eight points late in the fourth quarter Wabasso tried to mount one final drive but like they had all game, the Vikings' defense stood tall. Sanow stops a screen. Then Landon Abraham - who also recorded seven tackles- knocked away a pass on second down. Sanow sealed the victory with a toe-tapping interception on the sidelines.