STATE FOOTBALL: Leading potent offense, Minneota QB Alex Pohlen looks to wrap up successful prep career
MINNEOTA – It will be strength against strength on Saturday in the Class A state title game when the Minneota Vikings take on the Wabasso Rabbits. The Vikings possess a potent offense that’s averaging 52.6 points per game. It’s an offense that scored 41 points in the first half of their game against Mayer Lutheran in the state semifinals.
They will be going up against a Rabbits defense that’s giving up 8.6 points per game. They’ve only given up 20 or more points this season once, and that was in the first game of the season.
“They have a lot of good athletes,” Minneota quarterback Alex Pohlen said. “They are well coached. They are disciplined. We have to make sure we stick to our game plan. They are not going to mess up too much. We have to make sure to capitalize when they do. We have to execute. It’s going to be a battle. If we stick to our game plan and execute the things that we need to and play well on defense I think we’ll be just fine.”
Pohlen has been the Vikings starter at quarterback for four years. He’s one of nine seniors on the Vikings roster. It’s a senior class that has gone 50-1 with two state championships under their belts. That lone loss was against the Rabbits in the 2016 section semifinals. Pohlen said that defeating the Rabbits in the state championship to win their third state title in four years would be a perfect way to wrap up their careers.
“It’d be a dream come true,” Pohlen said. “After last year we knew we were going to have to be focused. They are going to be good and we knew we could have another shot to play them. We get that opportunity on Saturday. We have to stay focused and we are excited to play them.”
Pohlen said the focus in practice this week has been starting fast. In the semifinals the Vikings jumped out to a 20-0 first quarter lead and never looked back.
“We are definitely making sure we stay focused all week,” Pohlen said. “We have to make sure we come out strong right away. We feel as an offense if we can get going right away it’s going to be difficult to stop us. We are making sure we are all on the same page and ready to go on Saturday.”
A quarterback’s best friend is a great ground game. That’s exactly what the Vikings have with Isaac Hennen.
In two state tournament games Hennen has rushed for 304 yards and six touchdowns. The senior running back is averaging 9.8 yards per carry. Hennen also leads the team with nine receptions for 105 yards.
“Having Isaac on the team is obviously huge,” Pohlen said. “He does so many different things. He creates matchup problems. Teams are going to want to double team him and that opens things up for other players.”
Paving the way for Hennen is the offensive line. Pohlen said that the big boys up front have improved each week and are firing on all cylinders.
“The offensive line has dominated all year,” Pohlen said. “For a few of them this is their first year starting on the line. They are all bright guys. They are improving from game to game. They’ve done a great job.”
If a team bottles up Isaac on the ground Pohlen will get him the ball through the air. If they double team Isaac the senior quarterback has no shortage of weapons to turn to.
Thomas Hennen leads the team in receiving yards in the state tournament with 150 yards. Hennen has also hauled in two receiving touchdowns.
Cole Sanow has caught two touchdowns and also serves as a change of pace back to Isaac. Brant Buysse also has one touchdown.
“When one guy is a little off or if they are specializing on Isaac and limiting him as much as they can it’s obviously huge to have other guys step up,” Hennen said. “It’s huge to have multiple people that can be weapons for our team.”
For Minneota the offense gets all the headlines, however they boast a stingy defense. The defense has three shutouts under their belts and are giving up 11.3 points per game.
“I don’t think we can say if it’s just the offense or just the defense,” Pohlen said. “We have a lot of guys playing well, and we’re just clicking at the right time of the year.”