Wabasso to face rival Minneota for Class A crown

Scoring a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns the Wabasso Rabbits outlasted Ada-Borup /Norman County West 21-13 Saturday morning in a Class A semifinal thriller held at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

With the victory the Rabbits (13-0) have reached the state championship game for the first time in school history and will face a familiar foe for the title at 10 a.m. Saturday morning in the Twin Cities.

The Class A Prep Bowl will feature a an epic battle of former Section 5A rivals in Minneota (13-0) and the Rabbits. A season ago the Rabbits stunned the Vikings 30-20 in a Section 5A semifinal match-up and would go on to reach the state semifinals (losing to Minneapolis North 16-8).

Much like the Rabbits, the Vikings have left a path of destruction along the way to reaching the title game. The Vikings have outscored opponents by a 52.6 ppg-11.3 ppg average and have scored 461 first half points while giving up just 49.

They are led by the dynamic duo of Alex Pohlen and Isaac Hennen. Pohlen has completed 145-of-222 passes for 2,410 yards and 34 touchdowns. Hennen, meanwhile, has 153 carries for 1,553 yards and 24 rushing touchdowns and also has 51 catches for 876 yards and 10 scores.

Teammate Cole Sanow has 128 carries for 1,045 yards and 14 touchdowns, and Thomas Hennen has 43 receptions for 809 yards and 11 scores.

It’s familiar territory for Minneota, having won state titles in 2014 (28-14 over Dawson/Boyd), 2015 (35-18 over Minneapolis North) and finishing as state runners-up in 2013 (losing 17-7 to Chatfield). Minneota rolled through the Section 5A playoffs, posting an impressive 35-22 win over BOLD for the Section title.

In its two games at state, the Vikings defeated Mahnomen 34-22 on the strength of four touchdowns from Isaac Hennen and crushed Mayer-Lutheran 54-21 in the semifinals as Pohlen passed for four touchdowns.

The Viking seniors have gone 50-1 over the course of their high school careers, their only loss being the loss to the Rabbits a season ago.

Wabasso has been just as impressive, outscoring teams by a 44.8-8.6 margin, including 367-27 in the first half. Senior Cooper Taylor went over 2,000 yards rushing on the season in the win over Ada-Borup; he has 254 rushing attempts for 2,070 yards and 35 touchdowns and also has 22 receptions for 323 yards and two scores.

Senior Nick Altermatt has completed 80-of-117 attempts for 1,273 yards, 10 touchdowns and just three interceptions. Colton Taylor leads the receiving corps with 33 catches for 519 yards and six scores, and Kyle Jacobson has 89 carries for 616 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Up until the clash with the Cougars Saturday, the Rabbits had not been challenged since a week one win over LQPV. The Rabbits destroyed New Ulm Cathedral 48-6 for the Section 3A title game and rolled Bethlehem Academy 53-14 in the state quarterfinals.

Saturday morning the Rabbits got into a good scrum with the Cougars of Ada-Borup. The two teams would trade turnovers early on, with the Rabbits losing a fumble and answering back with a big interception from Tony Franta. Facing a third-and-12 at their own 45-yard line, a screen pass was set-up for Cooper Taylor and he would scamper 55-yards for the game’s opening touchdown.

Colton Taylor would add the extra point, and it was 7-0 Rabbits with 3:34 to go in the first quarter.

The Cougars (12-1) would answer back with an eight-play drive the culminated in a V.V.B. Alves 39-yard field goal that cut the lead to 7-3.

The Rabbits were in business late in the second quarter inside the Cougar 10-yard line, but Franta would fumble trying to reach the end zone, turning the ball over to the Cougars. Each team would have one more possession before heading into the half with the Rabbits leading 7-3. The Cougars would tack on another field goal from Alves in the third quarter, this time from 37-yards to make it a 7-6 game.

Early in the fourth, the Cougars had worked the ball inside the Rabbit red zone and were attempting a 37-yard field goal that sailed wide left. On the play, however, a roughing the holder penalty was called, giving the Cougars another shot from 32-yards. Again Alves would miss wide left, and the Rabbits would dodge a bullet heading into the final 10 minutes.

With the momentum back in their favor, the Rabbits put together an impressive 10 play, 80-yard drive that culminated in a 13-yard touchdown from Colton Taylor on a well timed reverse call. Cooper Taylor would come up big on the next Cougar series with an interception on fourth-and-5 from the Rabbit 35-yard line.

Trying to apply the dagger, the Rabbit offense went to work from their own eight-yard line. Cooper Taylor would break free on a 50-yard run, Kyle Jacobson added a 17-yard run, and a pass interference call on the Cougars would move the ball to the 16-yard line. Four plays later, Cooper Taylor would score from six yards out to put the game away leading 21-6.

The Rabbits would finish with 336 yards of total offense (238 on the ground) compared to 261 for the Cougars. Cooper Taylor finished with 23 carries for 131 yards and a score and had four catches for 93 yards and a touchdown. Altermatt was 7-of-15 passing for 98 yards and a score and had 12 carries for 33 yards. Colton Taylor added two carries for 20 yards and a score, Franta had one catch for six yards and Jacobson added seven carries for 61 yards. Jared Brainard was 8-of-19 passing for 83 yards, a score and three interceptions and had 14 carries for 132 yards to lead the Cougars.

Isaac Schmiesing paced the defense with 13 tackles (six solo), three tackles-for-loss and a quarterback sack. Altermatt had seven tackles (six solo), a tackle-for-loss and an interception, and Scott Zollner had eight tackles (three solo), a tackle-for-loss and a sack. Cooper Taylor and Franta both had interceptions, Jacobson added six tackles and Kody Kuehn had four tackles and a tackle-for-loss.

Class A State Semifinals

Wabasso 21,  Ada/Borup-NCW 13

First Quarter Wab - Cooper Taylor 55-yard pass from Altermatt (Colton Taylor kick) AB - Alves 39-yard field goal Third Quarter AB - Alves 37-yard field goal Fourth Quarter Wab - Colton Taylor 13-yard run (Colton Taylor kick) Wab - Cooper Taylor 6-yard run (Colton Taylor kick) AB - Fetting 21-yard pass from Brainard (Alves kick)