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Posted by Guest (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 11/16/2012 7:16:28 PM

By Luke Sleeper
John’s Journal correspondent

Owatonna extended its undefeated season Friday with a thrilling Class 5A victory over St. Thomas Academy that came down to the wire, giving the Huskies their first state championship appearance since 1998.

St. Thomas Academy got off to an early lead and had a 27-22 advantage late in the fourth quarter, but some costly Cadet turnovers put Owatonna in perfect position for the win.

The Cadets primarily used a three-pronged running attack: seniors Nick Waldvogel and Pat McFadden and junior Mario Bognanno. Among the three of them, they gained more than 100 yards on the ground.

A 20-yard touchdown run by McFadden in the first quarter gave St. Thomas a 10-3 lead.
This season Owatonna ditched the power running game – its offensive staple for years – and decided to build around its strong-armed quarterback, Colton Schock. The senior gunslinger spent much of the game in the shotgun with three- and four-wide receiver sets; he threw the ball 38 times Friday.

Schock led two scoring drives in the second quarter to claim a 16-10 halftime lead. First, he ran in a 1-yard touchdown; the next Husky touchdown was scored by junior running back Aaron Peterson. The second scoring drive was kick-started by 45-yard pass from Schock to his favorite receiver, senior Luke Ebeling, who finished Friday’s game with 10 catches for 119 yards.

St. Thomas (10-2) came out firing in the second half to reclaim the lead. A nine-play, 51-yard drive was capped off by a tremendous one-handed touchdown catch by senior receiver Alex Svedsen, corralling a 20-yard pass from senior quarterback Keegan Zimprich. Not long after, St. Thomas linebacker Jermiah Kraker intercepted Schock and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown.

A 16-yard touchdown pass from Schock to Ebeling, followed by a field goal by St. Thomas kicker Wyatt Schmidt, made it 27-22 Cadets entering the game’s final quarter. Owatonna was trailing despite having possession twice as long as St. Thomas and outgaining them almost three to one.

The fourth quarter went scoreless for the first 11 and a half minutes, mainly because both teams traded turnovers. The quarter had a little bit of everything: two interceptions, two fumbles and a blocked punt.

Owatonna was finally able to capitalize. The Huskies recovered a Pat McFadden fumble in St. Thomas territory with under three minutes left in the game. A heavy dose of running plays not only gained yardage but killed enough clock that once Owatonna running back Luke Wanous put his team in front 30-27, there were only seconds left for a St. Thomas comeback.

Owatonna (12-0) will play the winner of Saturday’s game between Bemidji and Totino-Grace for the Class 5A state title game next Saturday at 4 p.m. at the Metrodome.


HOLY FAMILY 49, PRINCETON 21

The Holy Family Fire fittingly got off to a hot start in their Class 4A semifinal matchup with the Princeton Tigers. The Catholic school from Victoria went into halftime with a 35-6 lead, and fended off a valiant comeback try by Princeton to earn a berth in the title game.

Holy Family gained 270 total yards during its impressive first half, primarily through the run game. Running backs Chazz Johnson, Connor Byrnes and Ben Baker carried the load for the Fire, totaling more than 300 yards.

It was the sophomore Johnson who led all rushers in the game with 215 yards; 147 of them came in the first half. He scored three touchdowns for the Fire.

The success Holy Family had running the ball opened up the playbook for Fire quarterback Hank Hopkins, also a sophomore. He led two late scoring drives in the first half that ended in passing touchdowns. A 9-yard strike to Derek Ogren, followed by an 18-yard score to Rollie Lacy, gave the Fire their comfortable halftime lead.

Princeton (8-5) came roaring back in the second half; back-to-back scoring drives to start the third quarter were exactly what the Tigers needed.

Senior fullback Josh Osborn scored from four yards and quarterback Zach Ludwig hit Travis Chmielewski for a 17-yard touchdown. The Tigers were now only two scores behind.

Ludwig completed 16 of 25 passes for 191 yards in the game. Chmielewski led all receivers in the game with eight catches and 110 yards.

It was not long before Holy Family answered. Connor Riddle’s 3-yard touchdown run, followed by 45-yarder by Johnson, put the finishing touch on a Fire victory.

Holy Family (10-3) will go on to face Hutchinson in next Friday’s 4A state title game at the Metrodome.

EDEN PRAIRIE 21, WAYZATA 7

As expected, the rematch between Lake Conference foes Eden Prairie and Wayzata was a tough and physical battle. A strong defensive performance and a few big plays by Eden Prairie were just enough to get by the No. 2 ranked Trojans, avenging a 16-0 loss to Wayzata on Oct. 17.

The defending state champions got all the points they needed in the first half. After a scoreless first quarter, Eden Prairie’s running game took over. The Eagles gained 117 rushing yards in the first half. Running backs Dan Fisher and Anthony Anderson were responsible for the brunt of those yards. Both of the big, physical junior runners scored on consecutive drives.

Fisher finished the game with 66 rushing yards and two touchdowns. He, Anderson and senior Jacob Woodring racked up 207 yards total. Much of the credit for the Eagle victory can be given to the defense. They held Wayzata to just three first downs and under 100 total yards in the game before the Trojans finally scored with 40 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Andrew Reding put Wayzata on the board with a 1-yard touchdown run.

Eden Prairie (10-2) is now slated to take on Lakeville North in next Friday’s 6A state title game. The Eagles are looking to win their eighth state championship in school history, their fourth in the last seven years. Before conference realignment, Eden Prairie and Lakeville were long-time rivals in the old Lake Conference. It was the Panthers in 2003 that ended Eden Prairie’s historic 59-game conference winning streak; 2003 was also the last time Lakeville won the state title before splitting into two high schools in 2005. The game will take place at 7 p.m. on Nov. 23 at the Metrodome.



 


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