Class AAAAAA Prep Bowl Championship: Centennial 28, Edina 27
Posted: Friday, November 24, 2023 - 10:33 PM
History was going to be made at the conclusion of the Class AAAAAA Prep Bowl Championship game regardless of the outcome.
Both Centennial and Edina were looking to win championships for the first time in their football history. Centennial came close in 1984 when it finished as the Class A runner-up in Prep Bowl III. A half-dozen years earlier prior to the Prep Bowl Era, Edina West was the Class AA champion with a victory over Fridley. But Edina West was only in existence for eight years as declining enrollment was the motivation to close Edina East and have Edina West become Edina High School.
But for all the history that was at play on Friday, Nov. 24, it was the thick, intense heart-pounding present that no one will forget.
Centennial (11-1) stopped Edina sophomore running back Chase Bjorgaard less than a yard short of the goal line on a two-point conversion attempt with 16 seconds remaining in regulation time that halted the Hornets’ stunning late-game rally and gave the Cougars a 28-27 victory in the big-school championship game.
Edina (9-4), who throughout had been on the lopsided end of ball control and total yards, suddenly, with 44 seconds left in regulation, had an opportunity to complete what many figured was an improbable comeback. In five quick plays, Edina climbed to within a point when sophomore quarterback Mason West fired a 21-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Sonny Villegas. Without hesitation, the Hornets elected to go for the win. West dished a shovel pass to Bjorgaard, who weaved his way through the defensive congestion before getting stopped. Bjorgaard stretched to get the ball over the goal line, but he was already done. The officiating crew emphatically indicated that he was short.
Centennial had built a 28-14 lead early in the fourth quarter following a 14-yard touchdown run from senior Marcus Whiting.
But shortly after, Edina, looking like a team riding an eight-game winning streak, engineered a 12-play, 65-yard drive capped by West’s 6-yard scoring run to close the gap to 28-21.
Edina had carved into a two-touchdown halftime deficit with a scoring drive to open the third quarter. That was a 1-yard run by senior running back John Warpinski, who finished with a team-best 81 yards.
Centennial built a 21-7 halftime lead behind a stunning ball control offense that primarily ran the ball, but sprinkled in timely passing. The Cougars ended their first half of dominance on an 8-yard lightning-quick pass from senior quarterback Daylen Cummings to senior wide receiver Josh Lee just a step away from the pylon with five seconds left in the half. The touchdown capped a 16-play, 75-yard drive that took 3:09 off the clock.
The drive was symbolic of Centennial’s ball possession that ran 45 plays for 225 yards and held it for nearly 17 minutes of play. Edina, meanwhile, ran 18 plays for 93 yards and held the ball for just more than seven minutes.
Senior running back Maverick Harper paced Centennial’s attack with 56 rushing yards and Cummings had 52. Cummings also completed 6 of 11 passes for 70 yards. Centennial finished with 281 rushing yards and averaged 4.7 yards per carry. Cummings led the way with 119 yards.
After giving Centennial a 14-0 lead behind a 15-yard scoring run by Cummings, Edina’s passing game awoke for a series. In two plays, the Hornets traveled 68 yards through the air in a prelude to a 1-yard run by Warpinski.