Road to Prep Bowl Championships: 1992-2001
Posted: Friday, November 11, 2022 - 9:54 AM
Editor’s Note: On Dec. 2 and 3, the Minnesota State High School League celebrates the 40th edition of the Prep Bowl. Join the League as we take a daily journey through four decades of football state championships leading up to this season’s festive seven-game event. The League is certain you will enjoy this opportunity to look back and recall the incredible moments during the Prep Bowl Era.
Read below for recaps of the second decade of MSHSL Prep Bowls Championships
Prep Bowl XX
Date: Nov. 23, 2001
- Class Nine-Man: Hillcrest Lutheran Academy 37, Ada-Borup 7 --- Quarterback Steve Moline rushed for two touchdowns and threw for another two as Hillcrest Lutheran Academy rolled past Ada-Borup. He completed 15 of 27 passes for 171 yards. A 17-yard interception return and 13-yard TD pass from Moline to Luke Hanson gave the Comets a 37-0 advantage.
- Class A: McLeod West, Brownton 30, Pillager 22 --- Quarterback Nathan Strand hit receiver Matt Maiers on an 80-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter to snap a 22-all tie. Pillager running Steve Bethel rushed for 158 yards on 27 carries and scored a TD.
- Class AA: Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City 27, Windom Area 20 --- The ink was barely dry on the Prep Bowl record for rushing attempts when Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City senior running back topped it with 37 carries and 220 yards and two touchdowns.
- Class AAA: Jackson County Central 42, Becker 7 --- Senior running back Lucas Rosenbrook rushed for 201 yards on 24 attempts to power the Huskies to their first state championship. Senior defensive back Ryan Place scooped up a fumble and returned it 69 yards for a touchdown which gave Jackson County Central a 28-0 halftime lead.
- Class AAAA: Detroit Lakes 36, Mankato East 34 --- Senior Matt Mission booted a 22-yard field goal with four seconds remaining in regulation to give the Lakers a heart-pounding victory. Detroit Lakes quarterback Reed Manke completed 15 of 25 passes for 306 yards and three touchdowns. Meanwhile, Mankato East’s Craig Dahl rushed for 172 yards on 16 carries and tied a Prep Bowl record with four rushing touchdowns. His 10.75 yards per carry set a Prep Bowl mark as well.
- Class AAAAA: Hastings 28, Blaine 9 --- Senior linebacker Danno Wagner intercepted a pass and returned it a Prep Bowl-record 84 yards to solidify the Raiders’ defensive effort in capturing the big-school crown. It was the 10th consecutive victory for the Raiders, who opened the season 0-2. Junior running backs Joe Sandkamp and John Majeski combined to rush 28 times for 145 yards to pace the Raiders’ offense. Senior John Schumann completed 9 of 13 passes for 105 yards and two touchdowns.
Did you know?
- The 20th edition of the Prep Bowl featured five member schools that won football championships for the first time. All champions, with the exception of Detroit Lakes in Class AAA, were first-time champions.
- Each of Hillcrest Lutheran Academy’s first three touchdowns came on third-and-goal plays.
- Hillcrest Lutheran Academy started the season 1-4, but ended on a nine-game winning streak.
- McLeod West running back Tyler Evans tied a Prep Bowl record with 34 carries and had 176 rushing yards. He finished his stellar prep career with 7,494 yards. He had 47 touchdowns during the 2001 season.
- Jackson County Central surrendered just 14 points in its final five postseason games.
Prep Bowl XIX
Date: Nov. 24, 2000
- Class Nine-Man: Westbrook-Walnut Grove 42, Cromwell 20 --- Westbrook-Walnut Grove scored on its first three possession to establish early dominance in securing its first football state crown. The Chargers built a 34-8 halftime lead, in part, behind two touchdown runs from Isaiah Wahl. He scored again in the fourth quarter to seal the victory. He finished with 172 rushing yards on 17 tries. Wahl also had 16 tackles on the defensive side of the ball.
- Class A: Sleepy Eye 13, Warren-Alvarado 12 --- Sleepy Eye turned its third consecutive state tournament appearance into a title-winning trip. The Indians clinched the victory by stopping Warren-Alvarado-Oslo’s Brett Lindenberg on back-to-back rushing attempts by Isak Rasmus. Jose Saenz had 111 yards rushing while Rasmus had 11 tackles.
- Class AA: Triton 31, Otter Tail Central 12 --- Triton returned to the state tournament after a four-year absence and made the sting of the dry spell dissipate with a second state title. Zak Midthun threw two touchdown passes and the Cobras’ defense held Otter Tail Central to 226 total yards.
- Class AAA: Glencoe-Silver Lake 21, Albany 0 --- Before combining with Glencoe, Silver Lake made seven state tournament appearances and won Class Nine-Man championships in 1983 and 1987, respectively. Glencoe-Silver Lake held Albany scoreless and to 137 yards. The Huskies entered the game averaging 35 points per game. Jason Schade rushed for 123 yards on 18 carries for Glencoe-Silver Lake.
- Class AAAA: Cambridge-Isanti 24, St. Thomas Academy 14 --- The Bluejackets bounced back from a runner-up finish the season prior by winning their third Prep Bowl crown. Phil Porta rushed for 116 yards on 22 carries, including a 16-yard touchdown on a sweep play to seal the victory. Mark Dahlstrom had 150 receiving yards and one touchdown run on five carries.
- Class AAAAA: Eden Prairie 24, Cretin-Derham Hall 14 --- Cretin-Derham Hall’s Kim Sarin opened the big-school battle of powerful programs with a Prep Bowl-record 95-yard kickoff return. The Raiders later extended their lead to two touchdowns on a short scoring run from Rashon Powers-Neal. But Eden Prairie’s defense took over from there in limiting the damage of Cretin-Derham Hall’s high powered offense. Offensively, Eden Prairie found its rhythm, too, and tied the halftime score on a touchdown pass from Mike Erickson to Seth Wigle. The Eagles took the lead for good when Erickson spotted John Bradley for a 23-yard scoring connection.
Did you know?
- Eden Prairie’s Greg Winegarden thwarted Cretin-Derham Hall’s comeback hopes when he interception Raiders quarterback Joe Mauer and returned it 82 yards for a Prep Bowl Record. That interception set up a 21-yard field goal by Stefan Turkula with 50 seconds left in regulation time.
- Westbrook-Walnut Grove’s Isaiah Wahl tied a Prep Bowl record with four rushing touchdowns.
Prep Bowl XVIII
Date: Nov. 26, 1999
- Class Nine-Man: Stephen-Argyle 18, Nicollet 8 --- Stephen-Argyle completed a 12-0 season with a 10-point victory in the final game of the season. Brett Stoltman had a 3-yard scoring run and quarterback Andy Aarke had two touchdowns, one on the ground and another a 37-yard slant pass to Reece Setterholm, to pace the Storm.
- Class A: Cook County 14, LeCenter 6 ---- Cook County captured a three-peat of Class A championships behind quarterback Erik Anderson rushed for a touchdown and threw for another.
- Class AA: Waterville-Elysian-Morristown 34, West Central Area 0 --- Senior quarterback Cory Hackett accounted for five touchdowns, two rushing and three through the air, to send the Bucs to a convincing championship victory. Two of the touchdown receptions went to Jesse Appel and a 76-yarder went to Gabe Hauser.
- Class AAA: DeLaSalle 28, St. Michael-Albertville 7 --- Dominque Sims, one of Minnesota’s premier players during the 1999 season, reinforced that label. The quarterback and safety rushed for 106 yards and scored two touchdowns. He also had 47 receiving yards and passed for another 31 yards.
- Class AAAA: Mankato West 35, Cambridge-Isanti 28 --- Chris Boyer rushed for 200 yards and scored three touchdowns to send Mankato West past Cambridge-Isanti. His third TD, in the fourth quarter, gave the Scarlets the edge they were seeking. Preston Treichel and Greg Ziebarth combined on two touchdowns for the Bluejackets.
- Class AAAAA: Cretin-Derham Hall 42, Hastings 21 --- National prep sensation Joe Mauer completed 15 of 22 passes for 305 yards and four touchdowns to power Cretin-Derham Hall past Hastings. Walter Bowser was Mauer’s most dynamic target as he had six receptions for 164 yards and three of the touchdowns. Marcus Freeman also had a fumble recovery that he returned 24 yards for a TD.
Did you know?
- DeLaSalle had three players that went on to play Division I football: Dominique Sims (Minnesota); Derrick Robinson (Iowa) and Jarod Newberry (Stanford).
- Waterville-Elysian-Morristown quarterback Cory Hackett finished his career with 6,038 passing yards and 77 touchdowns.
Prep Bowl XVII
Date: Nov. 27, 1998
- Class Nine-Man: Cromwell 40, Hillcrest Lutheran (Fergus Falls) 22 --- Cromwell captured the Class Nine-Man title for the third time in four seasons with a victory over Hillcrest Lutheran. The Cardinals opened things up in the fourth quarter behind two rushing touchdowns from quarterback Dan Olesiak. He finished with 144 yards rushing. Cromwell also intercepted three passes on defense.
- Class A: Cook County 38, Adrian 32, 2OT --- Push reset and this was a repeat of the Class A Championship Game in 1997. But unlike that low-scoring affair, this one was a race to the extended finish. Cook County’s Richard Bohnen scored on the Vikings’ possession of the second overtime, and then, Cook County stopped Adrian’s Bryan Metz just short of the goal line to prevent another tie. Bohnen rushed for 138 yards.
- Class AA: Mahnomen 27, BOLD 26 --- BOLD scored on a quarterback sneak by Cam Bailey late in the fourth quarter and decided to go for the two-point conversion. Mahnomen prevented that and left the Metrodome with its fifth state championship.
- Class AAA: Foley 21, Jackson County Central 7 --- Foley won its first state championship in as many trips on the strength of a stingy defense and timely offense. Quarterback Mike Kieffer had two touchdown connections to Jon David, including one for 89 yards. It was the second consecutive runner-up finish for Jackson County Central.
- Class AAAA: Hutchinson 21, Owatonna 20 --- It was a long hiatus from state championships for Hutchinson, but the dry spell ended in a nail-biting finish. Hutchinson, which had last won a Prep Bowl crown in 1984, was paced by Chris Davis, who rushed for 112 yards on 21 carries and scored two touchdowns. Hutchinson rallied from a 20-14 deficit in the fourth quarter behind a 14-yard TD reception from Nate Kirchoff to Tim Thode. Owatonna was in position to win in the final moments, but Rob Donohue’s 39-yard field goal attempt was just short.
- Class AAAAA: Woodbury 28, Champlin Park 7 --- Running back Louis Ayeni rushed for 179 yards and quarterback Bobby Grandas had two touchdown passes to Matt Swansson. Ayeni ran for 2,112 yards and scored 34 touchdowns in his senior season. He finished with 3,504 rushing yards and 47 touchdowns, both school records.
Did you know?
- Woodbury defeated defending big-school champion, Eden Prairie, 32-22 to advance to the Prep Bowl Championship Game.
- Louis Ayeni went on to have a standout collegiate career at Northwestern University. He played for the Indianapolis Colts as a safety in 2004-05 and played with the St. Louis Rams as a linebacker in 2005 and 2006. He currently is an assistant coach at Northwestern University.
- The Class A final set a Prep Bowl record for the longest game at three hours and nine minutes.
Prep Bowl XVI
Date: Nov. 22, 1997
- Class Nine-Man: Verndale 18, Cromwell 12 --- Verndale gained a measure of revenge over Cromwell by recording a victory in the championship game which ended a 38-game winning streak for the Cardinals. Joe Kern scored on a 2-yard run to set the score, but a dizzying series of events ensued where each team had chances. Kern finished with two touchdowns and 102 yards rushing.
- Class A: Cook County 13, Adrian 12 --- All the scoring took place in the first half as Cook County captured its first football crown. Adrian believed it had taken the lead late on a 91-yard touchdown pass, but the play was called back because of a penalty.
- Class AA: Pelican Rapids 34, Waterville-Elysian-Morristown 32 --- Pelican Rapids made the most of its second appearance in the state tournament with a victory in the title game despite being held scoreless in the second half. Running back Terry Motz rushed for 135 yards on six carries and scored two touchdowns for the Vikings. W-E-M quarterback Cory Hackett had a touchdown run and completed 14 of 25 passes for 174 yards and three touchdowns.
- Class AAA: Albany 55, Jackson County Central 7 --- Albany was dominant on offense and stifling on defense en route to a second championship. The previous title came in 1989 in the Class A field. Troy Hoffarth rushed for 120 yards on 12 carries and three touchdowns. He also caught two passes for 33 yards and returned an interception 39 yards. Jackson County Central was held to 50 yards in the second half.
- Class AAAA: Northfield 28, Detroit Lakes 0 --- Northfield reversed its trend of finishing as the state runner-up by climbing into the winners circle for the first time in five appearances. Three of those trips resulted in a runner-up finish. Matt Geiger rushed for 93 yards and scored three touchdowns. Teammate Matt Faust had a 39-yard fumble recovery for a TD.
- Class AAAAA: Eden Prairie 32, Blaine 29 --- In a rematch from the season prior, Eden Prairie again got the best of Blaine in another close finish. Ricky Fritz and Ryan Iversen had two touchdown connections, including a 47-yard to seal the victory. On the previous drive, Blaine’s Reondo Davis had an 83-yard TD reception.
Did you know?
- This was the first year of the six-class format and the renaming of enrollment classes.
- In a scheduling oddity, the Prep Bowl was played on Nov. 22, the week prior to Thanksgiving Weekend.
Prep Bowl XV
Date: Nov. 29, 1996
- Class Nine-Man: Cromwell 46, Verndale 44 --- Cromwell defended its Class Nine-Man crown by outracing Verndale in a back-and-forth classic that lasted nearly three hours. Cromwell led by as many as 20, 38-18, but had to stop a two-point conversion in the closing minutes to extend its winning streak to 26 in a row. Tyler Homstad led Cromwell’s attack with 142 yards on 32 carries. Quarterback Allan Gades and running back Joe Kern had late touchdown runs for Verndale.
- Class C: Chatfield 12, Hawley 7 --- In a battle of the two top-ranked teams, No. 2 Chatfield upended No. 1 Hawley in a finish that bore a great deal of resemblance to the Class C final in 1995. Justin Hartmening had a TD run to help Chatfield record its 24th consecutive victory.
- Class B: Breck 24, Windom 7 --- Breck, making its first state tournament appearance since 1981, set a Prep Bowl record with six interceptions and the Mustangs also had two fumble recoveries. Three of those turnovers paved the way to touchdowns.
- Class A: Mora 7, Northfield 3 --- Unranked Mora completed a trifecta of upsets in the state tournament with a victory over No. 4-ranked Northfield. The upset binge also included a victory over No. 2 Albany and No. 1 Detroit Lakes. Travis Lagasse had a touchdown late in the second quarter to spark the Mustangs. Running back Nate Kirschner had four receptions for 79 yards. He also had a fumble recovery to preserve the victory.
- Class AA: Eden Prairie 23, Blaine 22 --- Two lead changes took place in the final three minutes before Eden Prairie could cap an undefeated season. Ricky Fritz hit Ryan Iversen with a 25-yard TD pass to give Eden Prairie a 23-16 lead. Blaine answered with a 60-yard drive for a TD and then decided to go for a two-point conversion and the win. The Bengals, however, were unsuccessful on the two-point conversion pass.``
Did you know?
- The combined 90 points scored in the Class Nine-Man championship game set a Prep Bowl record. The previous mark was 73 when Albany defeated Totino-Grace in the Class A Championship in 1989.
- Chatfield recorded five sacks against Hawley, including two in the Nuggets’ final possession.
- Prior to the Prep Bowl, Eden Prairie outscored the postseason opposition 160-7.
- Blaine’s Brian Smiddle made a Prep Bowl-record 42-yard field goal.
Prep Bowl XIV
Date: Nov. 24, 1995
- Class Nine-Man: Cromwell 26, LeRoy-Ostrander 18 --- Cromwell captured the school’s first-ever state championship with its victory over LeRoy-Ostrander. The Cardinals rallied for the victory behind, in part, Brian Granholm, who forced a fumble and returned it 11 yards to set up a Cromwell touchdown. Moments later, Tyler Homstad had the winning touchdown on a 4-yard run and Dean Nyberg hit James Anderson on a successful two-point conversion pass.
- Class C: Chatfield 12, Hawley 6 --- Chatfield upended top-ranked Hawley in one of the lowest-scoring games in Prep Bowl history. Luke Thieke scored both touchdowns for the Gophers, who needed a key sack by Justin Harmening and Chris Scrabeck in the final seconds to secure the victory.
- Class B: Kingsland, Spring Valley 22, Breckenridge 3 --- In another milestone for a member school, Kingsland also won the first-ever championship in school history with a 22-3 victory over Breckenridge. Trenton Heyland had two touchdowns, one rushing and another on a 36-yard interception return.
- Class A: Detroit Lakes 30, St. Peter 15 --- Detroit Lakes continued its run of dominance by winning the Class A title for the third time in four seasons. Within the game’s first two minutes, the Lakers built a 14-0 lead. Craig Fredrickson set the tone with a Prep Bowl-record 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to open the game. On the ensuing possession, St. Peter fumbled and Detroit Lakes cashed in on a touchdown from quarterback Todd Steinmetz.
- Class AA: Stillwater 31, Rochester Mayo 7 --- Stillwater celebrated the 20th anniversary of its first state championship in 1975 by adding another to its rich tradition of success. Aaron Runk scored three touchdowns and ended his sterling career with 55 touchdowns. The Ponies built a 17-0 lead at the half behind a 20-yard fumble return by Kroy Johnson on Rochester Mayo’s unsuccessful “Fumblerooski” play.
Did you know?
- Kingsland had a combined 5-36 record between 1990-94 before going unbeaten to win the Class B title.
- Stillwater’s other championships during the Prep Bowl Era came in 1982 and 1984.
- Cromwell’s championship was the first for a member school from northeastern Minnesota since Esko won the Class C division in 1975.
Prep Bowl XIII
Date: Nov. 25, 1994
- Class Nine-Man: Kittson Central 36, Verndale 16 --- Kittson Central relied on the heroics of Mark Olsonawski, who was a standout on both sides of the ball. On the offensive end, he rushed for 132 yards on 19 carries and scored three touchdowns. On defense, he set a Prep Bowl record with three interceptions
- Class C: Chatfield 34, Red Lake Falls 14 --- Chatfield turned its fourth appearance in the state tournament into a championship following its victory over Red Lake Falls. Part of Chatfield’s success was on defense when the Gophers were able to limit the damage of Red Lake Falls running back Blaise Larson, who had rushed for more than 2,000 yards and 28 touchdowns during the regular season. Chatfield had the ball for more than 31 minutes of game time.
- Class B: Triton 40, Becker 21 --- Triton used a record-breaking day from quarterback Kirk Midthun and Judge Gissler to race past the Bulldogs. Midthun threw for 309 passing yards and a Prep Bowl-record six touchdowns. Gissler was on the receiving end for 171 of those yards and four touchdowns. Both were Prep Bowl marks. Becker had a 13-12 lead at the half behind a 57-yard fumble return for a touchdown from Brandon Novak.
- Class A: Sartell 24, Northfield 21 --- Scott Mader booted a 38-yard field goal with 13 seconds remaining in regulation time to send Sartell to its first football championship. Northfield, who would end up as the Class A runner-up for the second consecutive season, built a 14-0 halftime lead behind touchdowns from Drew Wilson and Jeff Otte, respectively. Later, Sartell would forge a 21-all tie on a successful fake punt that went for a touchdown.
- Class AA: Anoka 34, Alexandria 7 --- Anoka used a 20-point outburst in the fourth quarter to break open what had been a tense game with previously undefeated Alexandria. The Tornadoes built a 14-0 advantage at the half and then extended it late behind touchdowns from Justin Reinholz and a quarterback sneak by Tom Walbert.
Did you know?
- One of Midthun’s six touchdowns was an 87-yard connection with Tim Busch.
- Midthun, a two-time Associated Press Player of the Year, had opportunities to play at the Division I or Division II level, but opted to play at Bethel College, a Division III school.
- Anoka head coach DeWayne Johnson, who led the Tornadoes to the Class AA crown, was selected coach of the year by the Minnesota State High School Football Coaches Association.
Prep Bowl XII
Date: Nov. 26, 1993
Site: Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, Minneapolis
- Class Nine-Man: Chokio-Alberta 35, LeRoy-Ostrander 0 --- Kyle Neitzel set a Prep Bowl record with 270 yards rushing, including a 77-yarder, to power Chokio-Alberta. Those records would be short-lived and broken a few hours later.
- Class C: Mahnomen 43, Minneota 23 --- Running back Jason Miller rushed for 299 yards, including an 80-yard sprint on the first play of the game, to send Mahnomen off and running in becoming the first Minnesota high school program to win four consecutive championships. .
- Class B: St. Cloud Cathedral 28, Zumbrota-Mazeppa 6 --- St. Cloud Cathedral successfully defended its Class B crown with a convincing victory to end the season 14-0. Mike Mohs rushed for 125 yards on 16 carries to pace the Crusaders.
- Class A: Detroit Lakes 21, Northfield 14 --- In a battle between the top two ranked teams in Class A, No. 1 Detroit Lakes edged No. 2 Northfield to win its 27th consecutive game. Toby Steinmetz rushed for 94 yards and threw for another 100. He also intercepted a pass with two minutes remaining to preserve the victory.
- Class AA: Apple Valley 29, Rochester John Marshall 7 --- Apple Valley captured the second Prep Bowl title in program history by racing past the Rockets. Quarterback Brian Rasmussen tied a Prep Bowl record with three touchdown passes.
Did you know?
- Mahnomen set Prep Bowl team records for rushing yards (412) and most first downs rushing (21).
- Apple Valley’s Brad DeFauw set a Prep Bowl record for punting average when he had an average of 44.25 yards on four punts.
Prep Bowl XI
Date: Nov. 27, 1992
Site: Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, Minneapolis
- Class Nine-Man: Stephen 36, Cromwell 20 --- Stephen made its first state tournament trip a memorable one with a convincing victory over Cromwell. Quarterback Bryce Lingen ran for two touchdowns and threw for another as Stephen finished 13-0.
- Class C: Mahnomen 20, Mankato Loyola 13, 2OT --- Mahnomenm, aking its 13th playoff appearance dating to 1972, won the Class C crown for the third consecutive season. In the second extra session, the Indians recovered a fumble to secure their 39th consecutive victory.
- Class B: St. Cloud Cathedral 7, BOLD 6 --- St. Cloud Cathedral’s 11-minute drive in the fourth quarter was capped on a 5-yard scoring play from Nate Manderfeld to receiver Eric Overman. It was Overman’s first reception of the season. Jason Latzka then added the extra-point to provide the winning margin.
- Class A: Detroit Lakes 21, Farmington 0 --- The Lakers capped three shutouts in the state tournament with their first state crown. During the three games, Detroit Lakes outscored the opposition 72-0. It was the Lakers’ eighth shutout of the season.
- Class AA: Lakeville 19, Cretin-Derham Hall 7 --- Running back Matt Hammond rushed for 238 yards on 34 carries and scored two touchdowns to send the Panthers past the Raiders. Carl McCullough rushed for 129 yards on 23 carries for Cretin-Derham Hall.
Did you know?
- Detroit Lakes tied a Prep Bowl record with five interceptions in the championship game.
- St. Cloud Cathedral finished the regular season 4-4 before finishing on a six-game winning streak to win the Class B title.