Renowned for its stifling defense, Chaska showed an offense with some sizzle in a 34-14 Class 5A football semifinal victory over Coon Rapids on Friday at U.S. Bank Stadium.
The Hawks started with a 97-yard touchdown pass with just three minutes gone and kicked a 52-yard field goal for a 17-0 lead at halftime the Cardinals could only chase.
By winning, Chaska advanced to its first state championship game since 1974. The Hawks will play Saturday's Elk River-St. Thomas Academy winner in the Prep Bowl in two weeks.
"It's special," Chaska coach Bryan Dahl said. "We knew we had a good group of athletes and even better kids, and we knew this could be a special year."
They proved it this game by improving to 11-1 — the Hawks only loss was to Armstrong in Week 4 — after junior receiver Nic Snuggerud scored on that 97-yard completion and then kicked that long field goal that came 3 yards shy of a state record.
Chaska quarterback Grif Wurtz heaved the ball from his own end zone and Snuggerud plucked it, as two defenders converged, then ran away free for a sudden lead.
"All I really had to do is run," said Snuggerud, who caught an 84-yard touchdown pass in the Section 2 final. "Grif put it in a perfect spot, right in my arms. I was fortunate that the guy fell over and knocked the other guy down."
After teammate Stevo Klotz scored the first of his two running touchdowns out of the wildcat formation, Snuggerud made it a three-possession game with his field goal just before halftime.
Playing in its first state tournament since 1983, Coon Rapids scored on an 80-yard touchdown drive right out of halftime, with David Geebli scoring on a 5-yard run. It was only the second touchdown Chaska allowed in the first three quarters the past eight weeks.
"They're big, strong, physical and they proved it today," Coon Rapids coach Nick Rusin said. "They came out and proved how good of a team they are."
Snuggerud had kicked a 47-yard field goal in a playoff victory over Waconia. Against Coon Rapids, he barely missed a 45-yarder to the left just before he struck from 52.
"Honestly, before today I didn't really know I had the power for that until I got the adrenaline going," Snuggerud said.
His father, Bo, is one of three hockey-playing brothers, with his uncles Dave, a former NHL and Olympic player, and Bill. Brother Luc played hockey at Nebraska-Omaha and plays for Tampa Bay's minor league team.
Nic quit hockey after second grade for a game called football.
"I really liked it so I just stuck with that," Snuggerud said. "I don't think they really minded."