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Wednesday’s all-school assembly at Holy Family Catholic High School in Victoria included a run-of-the-mill rundown of morning announcements. The chess team would meet later in the afternoon, books are being collected for a book drive and a dress rehearsal for the talent show would not need to include props.
After a prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance and those messages, football coach Dave Hopkins took the microphone and ran the gymnasium like a paid motivational speaker.
He had reason to be excited.
Three of his players soon made their college choice official: Trent Nady and Peter Vakulskas to Augustana College and Peter Westerhaus to the Gophers.
Westerhaus, who will play linebacker at Minnesota, was literally recruited by coaches from coast-to-coast. After pulling on a maroon and gold ball cap Wednesday, Westerhaus let out a big puff of air.
“It was a long recruiting process. A lot of learning and you meet a lot of great people,” the Mr. Football Award winner said. “But it feels great to have it finished right now.”
-- Brian Stensaas
Saturday’s Class 4A title game followed a familiar script this time of year for Totino-Grace, which defeated Rogers 34-14 to take home its sixth championship in the past eight seasons.
After forcing a three-and-out on Rogers’ first possession, the Eagles – known more as a running team – went up 7-0 on their fourth play from scrimmage when Alex Kreuser’s perfect deep ball was hauled in by Nick Frandsen for a 44-yard touchdown.
“That was the game plan,” Kreuser said. “Make them remember last year as soon as possible, and keep the foot on the pedal.”
That was a reference to Totino-Grace’s 56-14 victory over Rogers in last year’s state quarterfinals. This year, the teams seemed much more evenly matched. But Rogers trailed 14-0 after the first quarter and never really threatened after Tom Laventure’s 59-yard TD run made it 28-7 early in the third.
The Royals, who controlled both sides of the line of scrimmage against Mahtomedi while scoring on seven of their first eight drives, found lanes constantly clogged Saturday. And even when Rogers moved the ball – the previously undefeated Royals finished with 394 yards of offense – the offense was just 2-for-6 scoring on trips inside the red zone. Totino-Grace was 3-for-3.
Led by running back Adam Lentz and quarterback Nic Jensen, No. 2 Rochester Lourdes (14-0) surged to a 21-7 halftime lead it would not relinquish. Jensen's 34-yard touchdown dash provided his team a 7-0 while Lentz gained 121 yards in the first half, including touchdown runs of 78 and 27 yards.
Holy Family (13-1) got on the board as Peter Vakulskas cut the lead to 21-7 on a 23-yard touchdown run with less than one minute before halftime.
But the Eagles rebuilt a 21-point lead with a third quarter touchdown and cruised to their first state title in 1979.
Three months of action - warm afternoons and chilly nights - comes down to this. The high school sports fall season concludes today at the Metrodome with the second day of the Prep Bowl. We saw record performances yesterday in the Nine-Man finale, with helpings of runaway victories (Class 2A and 5A) and a nailbiter (Class 1A) along for the ride. We'll all find out together what today's games will bring. But on paper it's shaping up to be quite the show on turf under the Teflon rooftop.
First the particulars:
Class 3A (noon scheduled start): Holy Family (12-0) vs. Rochester Lourdes (11-1) (Preview here)
Class 4A (3 p.m. scheduled start): Totino-Grace (10-1) vs. Rogers (11-0) (Preview here)
Lots to talk about with these games, evidenced by those nifty little preview links. How will Holy Family's defense hold up against the speed of Rochester Lourdes? Is the Fire the next "it" school? Does Totino-Grace continue its dominant hold? Is Rogers for real, and have the Royals put last year's thumping at the hands of the Eagles behind them? Plus much, much more.
If history has taught us anything, it's that the obvious storylines can be thrown out the window in big-time games such as today's. Something unexpected is liable to happen here. So why not settle in and enjoy?
David La Vaque and "multiple hat" Michael Rand are on the schedule today here as well. We're set to bring you the final day of the fall season. Then it's a Sunday off and - BOOM - right into the winter sports season with our fantastic new hub sites.
But first: Football!!!!!
Mitch Underhill, a 15-year-old sophomore running back, led top-ranked Wayzata (11-0) to a 31-14 victory over No. 4 Rosemount (12-1) and the Trojans to their third state championship in the past six seasons. He carried 12 times for 247 yards and four touchdown runs of 45, 66, 58 and 58 yards — the last three coming in the third quarter of Friday’s game at the Metrodome.
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