STATE FOOTBALL: Minneota controls Mayer Lutheran, advances to state championship game

Photo by Brennen Rupp Minneota’s Cole Sanow sprints toward the end zone during their Class A semifinal game against Mayer Lutheran on Saturday at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Vikings won 54-21 to advance to the championship game.

MINNEAPOLIS – The Minneota Vikings did what they wanted, when they wanted during the first half against Mayer Lutheran. The Vikings raked up 386 total yards of offense and picked up 22 first downs. The well-oiled machine lit up the scoreboard at U.S. Bank Stadium, as the Vikings scored 41 first half points.

With the offense firing on all cylinders the Minneota defense put the clamps on Mayer Lutheran’s offense, holding Mayer Lutheran to 79 total yards.

The Vikings looked like an unstoppable force in the first 24 minutes as they took a 41-0 lead into the locker room. That strong first half propelled the Vikings to a 54-21 victory to send them to their third state championship game in four years.

“Everything was working,” Minneota coach Chad Johnston said. “We feel like our system is complex enough when you don’t see us year in and year out it’s very difficult to prepare for. It doesn’t matter what kind of Xs and Os you put together, kids have to go out and execute. We were just gelling running the ball and throwing the ball. We got off to a fast start.”

Minneota’s starting quarterback Alex Pohlen threw more touchdowns than he had incompletions in the first half. The senior quarterback went 15 of 18 for 210 yards and four touchdowns in the first 24 minutes of the game.

“The line was doing a great job,” Pohlen said. “They gave me a plenty of time. The guys ran great routes and I had plenty of time to ready everything.”

Senior running back Isaac Hennen did a bit of everything in the first half. Hennen rushed for 119 yards on seven carries and scored two touchdowns. He also led the team with six receptions for 84 yards.

“It was great,” Hennen said. “It was great to get the ball and nobody was in front of you. It’s a tribute to how great our line did today. Both of our guards played outstanding with their kickout blocks. The tackles did a great job. Our center always does a great job too.”

Hennen opened the scoring with a 17-yard rushing touchdown to put the Vikings up 7-0 with 9:54 left in the first quarter.

On Minneota’s next drive Pohlen dumped it off to Cole Sanow on a screen play and Sanow went in untouched from 22 yards. Sanow’s touchdown put the Vikings up 13-0 with 6:44 remaining the first quarter.

Following a Brant Buysse interception Pohlen and the moving company were at it again. This time the senior quarterback connected with Thomas Hennen for a 20-yard scoring strike to put the Vikings up 20-0 with 2:08 left in the first quarter.

On their first drive of the second quarter Pohlen picked up his third passing touchdown. This time it was Buysse getting in on the fun to put the Vikings up 27-0.

With under five minutes to go in the first half Isaac Hennen scored his second rushing touchdown to put the Vikings 32-0. Thomas Hennen then made a nifty catch to convert the two-point conversion.

Pohlen capped off the scoring in the first half when he found Sanow for a second time to put the Vikings up 41-0 with 31 seconds to go in the first half.

With the Vikings win it sets up a Minneota versus Wabasso 1A state title match. This group of seniors for the Vikings own a 50-1 record with two state titles. The only team that has defeated them is Wabasso. The Rabbits defeated Minneota last year during the section semifinals.

“We were disappointed after last year,” Pohlen said. “We knew they were going to be a good team this year. We knew we could have another shot at playing them again. We are excited for next week. Hopefully we’ll come out on top.”

Johnston said he’s unsure of what type of game it will be when the Vikings and Rabbits square off at U.S. Bank Stadium on Saturday at 10 a.m.

“It’s always hard to say when you have two teams like this that are very familiar with each other,” Johnston said. “One of the benefits of coming up and playing a team is they don’t key on your tendencies. Obviously we’ve seen Wabasso now multiple times the last few years. They do some good things against us both offensively and defensively. That creates a next challenge. Sometimes you get in games like these and you never know. They sometimes end up being a 40-30 something game. For instance Wabasso had a close one today before they broke it open late. Sometimes you get two teams that play extremely well defensively. It’s hard to say what you’re going to get out of the game next week.”

Minneota 54, Mayer Lutheran 21

Mayer Lutheran 0 0 7 14 – 21

Minneota 20 21 13 0 – 54

SCORING SUMMARY

First Quarter

Minneota: I. Hennen 17 yd run (Kick).

Minneota: C. Sanow 22 yd pass from Pohlen (Kick failed).

Minneota: T. Hennen 20 yd pass from Pohlen (Kick).

Second Quarter

Minneota: B. Buysse 32 yd pass from Pohlen (Kick failed).

Minneota: I. Hennen 14 yd run (2-pt. conversion run by T. Hennen good).

Minneota: C. Sanow 16 yd pass from Pohlen (Kick).

Third Quarter

Mayer Lutheran: Wolf 12 yd pass from Thole (Kick).

Minneota: Abraham 30 yd run (Kick).

Minneota: Sterzinger 29 yd run (Kick failed).

Fourth Quarter

Mayer Lutheran: Menth 5 yd pass from Thole (Kick).

Mayer Lutheran: Wolf 40 yd interception return (Kick).

Individual Statistics

Passing (comp-att-yds-td-int): Minneota (Pohlen 14-17-216-4-0).

Rushing (att-yds-td): Minneota (I. Hennen 11-138-2; C. Sanow 9-40-0).

Receiving (rec-tds-td): Minneota (I. Hennen 6-92-0; C. Sanow 3-36-2).

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