St. Croix Lutheran and Mound Westonka each believed it entered Friday's showdown of unbeaten teams prepared by a week of strong practices.
Gameday proved otherwise. St. Croix Lutheran rolled to a 48-23 victory by running its veer offense to precision throughout a lopsided first half. The Crusaders (7-0), ranked No. 1 in Class 3A, got a combined six touchdowns from five players and led 41-0 at intermission.
"We feel we do a pretty good job with our scout team, but you can't emulate their speed," Mound Westonka coach Nick David said. "Hats off to them. They are the best I've ever seen at running the veer."
Mound Westonka (6-1), ranked No. 10 in Class 4A, saw its 22-game unbeaten streak in regular-season games stopped cold.
A hot start propelled St. Croix Lutheran, the Class 3A Prep Bowl champion in 2011 and 2013 and runner-up last season. Rushing touchdowns on the Crusaders' first three drives produced an early 21-0 lead.
Senior running back Dorrell Bratton started the St. Croix Lutheran surge with a 16-yard scoring run before the game was 2 minutes old. Fellow senior Mike Stern broke a 71-touchdown run on the first play of the Crusaders' second drive.
Each team tried to convert on fourth down in the opening quarter, and the results were indicative of their fortunes.
The St. Croix Lutheran defense stopped the White Hawks at the Crusaders 40-yard line. His team facing fourth down on its ensuing drive, Crusaders senior running back James Chernohorsky scored a 35-yard touchdown.
"We had a great week of practice, and I think we did all the little things right," Stern said.
Nehemiah Hammick (2-yard run), Chernohorsky (36-yard run) and Garett Maag (51-yard reception from quarterback Jonathan Liesener) all scored in the second quarter and St. Croix Lutheran, a private school located in West St. Paul, never looked back.