Minneota players celebrate a second straight Class A state title on Friday at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mascot photo by Brian JeremiasonMinneota head coach Chad Johnston watches the action from the sideline. Johnston guided the team to a 14-0 record this season and now owns a 214-41 career record. Minneota senior lineman Alex DePestel sacks Springfield quarterback Jakob Nachreiner. Minneota defensive lineman Kaden Neyens recovers a fumble near the Springfield goal line in the third quarter. Ryan Meagher (20) runs for one of his five touchdowns, tying a Prep Bowl record, as he gets a block from Kyler Lozinski.Minneota fans react to a big play by the Vikings in the Prep Bowl on Friday. Lucas Rybinski (10) dives for yardage in the second half against Springfield. Minneota captains participate in the pregame coin toss. Left to right, Max Rost, Sawyer Desmet, Alex DePestel and Parker Bradley.Destin Fier (23) of the Vikings breaks up a pass intended for Springfield receiver Carter Olson.


Minneota captures 2nd straight state crown; ninth overall

Thanksgiving was the previous day, but Minneota feasted on Springfield’s defense by chewing up 362 total yards en route to a 43-22 victory in the Class A state football championship Friday at U.S. Bank Stadium.
The Vikings, who repeated as state champions to claim the program’s ninth state title in 12 Prep Bowl appearances, finished off a perfect 14-0 season and have now won 20 straight games over two years.
Ryan Meagher, who rushed for 203 yards, tied a Prep Bowl record by scoring five touchdowns. He finished the season with 2,224 yards and 40 touchdowns.
Minneota also beat Springfield in last year’s championship game, 38-21, but trailed 13-10 at halftime. This time, however, the team knew it couldn’t get complacent despite a 29-6 halftime advantage.
“We led Mayer Lutheran at halftime two years ago in the championship game and they came back on us,” said senior tight end/defensive end Sawyer Desmet. “We talked at halftime in this game that we need to keep playing hard and not let up.”
Minneota turned the ball over on its first series of the game, but then held Springfield to a three-and-out. The Vikings then started their next series on the Tigers’ 30 following a nice punt return by Max Rost. Meagher carried five straight times before reaching the end zone from a yard out. Freshman kicker Ian Myhre added the extra point for a 7-0 lead that the Vikings would not relinquish.
Springfield appeared to be going in for a tying touchdown before fumbling. Senior lineman Alex DePestel, who played his best game of the season, pounced on the loose ball. DePestel also had another fumble recovery later in the game to go along with four tackles for loss, including 1 1/2 sacks. “I didn’t want to lose my final game, so I just played as hard as I could,” DePestel said. “Winning state last year made us hungry to win it again.” Minneota then tacked on three unanswered touchdowns in the second quarter to lead 29-0 before Springfield finally got on the board with a touchdown with 30 seconds left in the half.
Destin Fier, who gained 77 yards in only seven carries, had a four-yard TD run around left end to make it 14-0 with 7:57 remaining in the first half. After another Springfield three-and-out, the Vikings went 50 yards in four plays, capped by Meagher’s 21-yard run up the middle.
Springfield fumbled the ball away on the ensuing possession with DePestel again recovering the loose pigskin at the Tigers’ 37. Ryan Dalager connected with DeSmet for 27 yards to the 10 yard-line on the first play of the series. Meagher then carried for three yards before getting his number called again on the next play and scampered seven yards into the end zone. Rost ran in the conversion for a 29-0 lead.
Springfield then put together a seven-play, 65-yard drive with Jakob Nachreiner tossing a nine-yard touchdown throw to Brayden Sturm with 30 seconds left. The two-point conversion failed and it was 29-6 at intermission.
“I walked into the locker room and said we have to play like it’s still 0-0,” DePestel said. “We still had another half to play and we needed to stay disciplined.”
“We had a few hiccups in the second half, but we ended up controlling the game and ending it how we wanted,” said Rost. “I think the first half was a good showing of what we can do as a team and how dominant we really were this year. Especially because we held a team with such a high caliber to only six points in a half.”
Minneota added a score in the third quarter on another 21-tyard run by Meagher for a 36-6 lead.
After Nachreiner tossed a 17-yard TD to Carter Olson in the fourth quarter, Minneota came back with Meagher breaking loose up the middle on a 48-yard TD run.
The Tigers capped the scoring with Nachreiner throwing his third touchdown of the game, this time to Sturm from two yards out.
Dalager completed all four of his passing attempts for 72 yards. DeSmet, who is headed to the Minnesota Football Coaches Association All-Star Game on Saturday at U.S. Bank Stadium, caught three passes for 63 yards and also recorded 2 1/2 sacks among his nine tackles. Fier had 77 yards rushing in only seven carries.
Kaden Neyens also had a sack for the Vikings. Kellen Bradley shared team-high honors with DeSmet with nine tackles. DePestel had eight stops and Parker Bradley six.
Springfield came into the game with impressive passing statistics. The Vikings, for the most part, were able to neutralize that strength of the Tigers.
“Our coaches ran their pass plays at us and we talked through each of them,” explained Rost, who had one of the Vikings’ two interceptions along with Keaton Jurrens. “In the beginning of the game, we played aggressively and that rattled them. Towards the end, we played a little softer zones to avoid big plays over our heads so they were able to complete a few more.”
The seniors on the team, who ended their careers with two straight state titles to their credit, felt this one was more special.
“It is maybe a little more special to me because it’s my last year and us seniors went out the best way possible,” said Rost. “It also meant more to me because I took more time this season to enjoy the little things like being with teammates and savoring the time with my coaches.”
“It was great winning both times, but it was more special this year to be able to share it with all the seniors,” said DeSmet. “We had some new players really step up for us like Ryan (Dalager) in his first year as quarterback and Kyson (Arndt), who replaced Hudson Scholten on the line.”
DePestel had shoulder and knee surgery after wrestling season last year in order to be able to play football this season.
“This meant the world to me,” DePestel noted. “Having those surgeries was worth it so I could be able to come back and win again with these guys.”

Minneota 43, Springfield 22
Springfield.......................0 6 0 16 - 22
Minneota...................... ..7 22 7 7 - 43

Scoring Plays
Min - Ryan Meagher 1 run (Ian Myhre kick)
Min - Destin Fier 4 run (Ian Myhre kick)
Min - Meagher 21 run (Myhre kick)
Min - Meagher 7 run (Myhre kick)
Spr - Brayden Sturm 9 pass from Jakob Nachreiner (pass failed)
Min - Meagher 21 run (Myhre kick)
Spr - Carter Olson 17 pass from Nachreiner (Sturm pass from Nachreiner)
Min - Meagher 48 run (Myhre kick)
Spr - Sturm 2 pass from Nachreiner (Sam Rummel run)

Team Statistics
Total Yards: Springfield 277, Minneota 362 ... Rushing Yards: Springfield 63, Minneota 290 ... Passing Yards: Springfield 214, Minneota 72 ... First Downs: Springfield 25, Minneota 16 ... Turnovers: Springfield 5, Minneota 1 ... Penalties: Springfield 2-9, Minneota 8-79 ... Time of Possession: Springfield 23:00, Minneota 25:00

Minneota Statistics
Passing (com-att-yds-td-int): Ryan Dalager 4-4-72-0-0, Ryan Meagher 0-1-0-0-0
Rushing (att-yds): Ryan Meagher 29-203, Destin Fier 7-77, Max Rost 6-14, Lucas Rybinski 1-1, Ryan Dalager 2-1
Receiving (rec-yds): Sawyer DeSmet 3-63, Ryan Meagher 1-9
Tackles (solo-asst-tot): Sawyer DeSmet 6-3-9, Kellen Bradley 3-6-9 Alex DePestel 6-2-8, Parker Bradley 2-4-6, Max Rost 4-1-5, Keaton Jurrens 2-3-5, Destin Fier 2-3-5, Kaden Neyens 2-2-4, Brody Larson 2-1-3, Easton Johnston 1-2-3, Kyson Arndt 0-3-3, Adam DeVlaeminck 2-0-2, Grant Anderson 2-0-2, Lincoln Jerzak 2-0-2, Lucas Rybinski 2-0-2, Carson Javers 1-1-2, Caleb Botteberghe 0-1-1
Sacks: Sawyer DeSmet 2 1/2, Alex DePestel 1 1/2, Kaden Neyens 1
Tackles for Loss: Alex DePestel 4, Sawyer DeSmet 2 1/2, Kellen Bradley 1, Parker Bradley 1/2, Kyson Arndt 1/2
Forced Fumbles: Sawyer DeSmet 1, K.Bradley 1, P.Bradley 1
Fumble Recoveries: DePestel 2, Neyens 1, Arndt 1
Interceptions: Rost 1, Keaton Jurrens 1
Punting: Dalager 1-28.0

Springfield Statistics
Passing (com-att-yds-td-int): Jakob Nachreiner 17-39-214-3-1
Rushing (att-yds): Sam Rummel 11-31, Ashton Toll 4-21, Carter Olson 10-18, Gavin Vanderwerf 1-6, Jakob Nachreiner 11-3, Brayden Sturm 0-)-16)
Receiving (rec-yds): Olson 9-163, Sturm 6-38, Pidde 1-15, Grant Kuehn 1-(-2)
Tackle leaders (solo-asst-tot): Toll 7=8-15, Pidde 9-4-13, Vanderwerf 5-3-8
Tackles for loss: Toll 1/2, Vanderwerf 1/2, Joe Nachreiner 1/2, Kody Bast 1/2
Forced fumble: Vanderwerf 1
Fumble recovery: Olson 1
Punting: Olson 2-26.5

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