A greater purpose drove both Minneota and Minneapolis North throughout the Class 1A Prep Bowl.
Defending state champion Minneota rallied around senior Garrett Hennen, who set the program's single-season rushing record but got injured after four carries Saturday.
Minneapolis North, the city's first public school Prep Bowl representative, sought to inspire a proud community.
A two-point game at halftime turned in the second half as Minneota, playing in its 12th championship game, created turnovers, sustained drives and scored twice. The Vikings' 35-18 victory brought the sixth state title in program history.
Isaac Hennen, Garrett's sophomore brother, became the workhorse for Minneota (14-0). He ran 24 times for 103 yards and three scores. Senior Bryce Bruner added 107 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries.
"It felt like we should try to get it done for him," Isaac Hennen said of Garrett. "He carried us all year."
The Vikings anticipated the Polars' team speed, exemplified by highly touted quarterback Tyler Johnson, who has committed to Minnesota. In practice a Minneota assistant coach mimicked Johnson, scrambling for long periods of time, forcing Vikings defensive backs to remain disciplined in coverage.
"Their defense didn't give up on a play at all," said Johnson, who accounted for almost 300 yards of offense but got sacked four times.
Johnson accounted for all three Polars first-half scores, two on the ground and one through the air. He struggled in the second half, throwing two interceptions and fumbling a punt return. Minneota converted two of those turnovers into touchdowns.
Five years ago, not long before Johnson and the Class of 2016 arrived, North (13-1) was targeted for closure because of falling enrollment and poor academic results. The school survived and the football team provided a grand stage for proclaiming North's perseverance.
"I tell these kids every day, 'Do something that somebody hasn't done before,' " Polars coach Charles Adams said. "And this is it. I'm so proud of these kids."
At the game, alumni in letter jackets dating back decades contributed to what Adams called a "breathtaking" scene. Minneapolis Deputy Police Chief Bruce Folkens, Rep. Raymond Dehn and Minneapolis City Council member Blong Yang showed their support as well.
"We had the whole city behind our back," Johnson said. "We always know that when we're playing, it's bigger than us."