Football players at the Academy of Holy Angels in Richfield vote on what they call the four moments of truth, or key moments that determine a game's outcome.
Options weren't plentiful after their Class 4A Prep Bowl victory Friday at U.S. Bank Stadium, a 14-0 shutout of Cloquet for the Stars' first state title. Holy Angels persevered through a game marred by 10 turnovers between the teams.
Then again, it's not how many moments but how well a team manages them. Whether a touchdown heave, leaping interception, quarterback scramble or defensive stand, the Stars (12-1) came through each time.
"If it's truly in your heart to win a championship, you find a way, and they did that today," Holy Angels coach Jim Gunderson said.
Holy Angels led 7-0 at halftime on a 46-yard pass from quarterback Joseph Heimbold to Ryan Mazurek. The pass came on a third-and-20 situation with Heimbold feeling pressure yet maintaining poise.
"I saw Ryan had a little bit of a height advantage and a got a little behind their defender," Heimbold said. "I was relieved that he caught it, but I knew he could make a play."
Keontay Shorter ended Cloquet's best chance to tie the score by leaping high to snare an interception in the end zone late in the first half.
"Before the play, coach [Darrick] Cornelius was telling me to widen out," Shorter said. "I wasn't sure why because I didn't think they were going to throw."
Heimbold and his quarterback counterpart, Tim Pokornowski, combined to rush for 394 yards and four touchdowns in the semifinals. On Friday they were hemmed in for a combined 185 yards and no scores.
Once again, quality meant more than quantity. Strong perimeter blocking sprang Heimbold for a 19-yard run to the Cloquet 1. Thomas Shelstad finished the drive for a 14-0 lead.
Pokornowski, who credited the Holy Angels defense as the fastest he's seen this season, worked to respond. He brought the Lumberjacks (12-1) to the Stars 8. Holy Angels stiffened, turning Cloquet over on downs at its 5-yard line.
Gunderson said the mission for his defense this season was to "play faster and pursue to the ball better than anyone."
The Lumberjacks ended their first title game appearance since 1976 with another second-place finish.
"Both teams made mistakes, but they capitalized and we didn't," Cloquet coach Tom Lenarz said.