The two best teams in the state in Class A football squared off Friday in the first game of Prep Bowl 37 as the Blooming Prairie Awesome Blossoms, coming in with a record of 12-0 and the Number 2 ranking in the state for most of the season tangled with the Number 1 ranked BOLD Warriors, playing in their second straight Prep Bowl and coming in with a record of 13-0. The Blossoms were not only looking for their first-ever championship, but also to defeat the team that downed them last year in the state semi-finals 37-7. The Warriors were searching for their third title in their 12th trip to the state tournament as BOLD, and in a game befitting the hype, the Blossoms reeled off 20 unanswered points in the second half to claim the title by the score of 41-15.
Blooming Prairie was forced to punt after five plays on the opening drive of the game, and BOLD took over at their 30. The Blossoms defense made the first of many big plays on the third play of the drive as after a sack, Jordan Sagedahl, a candidate for Mr. Football in Minnesota was again forced out of the pocket and forced to scramble to his right, and his pass while being dragged to the turf by linebacker Luke Larkoski was intercepted by Gabe Hagen, who raced 18 yards untouched into the end zone to give the Blossoms a quick 7-0 lead after the extra point by Carson Brennecke.
After each team traded punts, BOLD put the ball in play from their own 34. A 26-yard pass from Sagedahl to Gavin Vosika, the leading receiver for the Warriors and a pass interference penalty on Blooming Prairie helped to move the ball into Blossom territory, and on the 11th play of the drive, it was Jordan to Drew Sagedahl for a 15-yard touchdown pass and an 8-7 lead after the two-point conversion pass.
The lead for BOLD would be their only lead of the game, and it was short-lived as Blooming Prairie took over at their own 34 after the ensuing kickoff and after a first down pass on 3rd and 7 from Kaden Thomas to Karson Vigeland that moved the ball to the BOLD 39, Thomas went deep over the middle on 1st and 10 and hit Mitchell Fieberger, who was double covered, at the Warrior 5-yard line. On third and goal, Thomas hit running back Matthew Pryor on a middle screen, and he rumbled into the end zone from 9 yards out to put the Blossoms back in front 14-8.
The defenses for both teams then dug in as the next three drives all resulted in punts, the third by BOLD gave BP the ball at their own 20. A 24-yard pass from Thomas to Fieberger helped to move the ball down the field and on 3rd and 4 from the Warrior 25, Thomas found Hagen, who then slipped a tackle and sprinted into the end zone on the eighth play of the drive to give BP a 21-8 lead.
BOLD then embarked on the strangest drive of the game towards the end of the first half as although Blooming Prairie sacked Sagedahl three times for -39 yards on the drive, a roughing the passer penalty on BP gave BOLD a first down after a long pass on 3rd and 22 fell incomplete. After the third sack on the very next play, the Warriors were facing 2nd and 23 at their 48 when Sagedahl went back to pass and heaved a bomb downfield that was caught by Matthew Moorse for a gain of 38 yards and a first down at the Blossom 14. Wide receiver Blake Plass took a shovel pass from Sagedahl on the next play and sprinted into the end zone for an improbable touchdown and a 21-15 Blooming Prairie lead at the half.
BOLD had the first possession of the second half and starting from their own 24, a 30-yard pass from Jordan to Drew Sagedahl moved the ball into Blooming Prairie territory and continued the Warriors’ momentum from the end of the second half. The Blossoms defense stepped to the fore, however, and forced a turnover on downs after nine plays at their 31. The Blooming Prairie offense then swung momentum back the other way when on 3rd and 9, Hagen made a leaping catch over Vosika for a gain of 19 and a first down, and shortly thereafter on 3rd and 8 from the BOLD 48, Thomas found Bradley Simon with an underneath throw to the right side and he sprinted down the sideline to the Warrior 13 for a gain of 35 yards. On the eighth play of the drive, the Blossoms were again facing 3rd down and this time 10 yards to go when Thomas lofted a fade pass into the end zone for Hagen, who took the ball away from Vosika, tried to bring in in on the way down, hit the turf and somehow snared the ball with his left hand before it landed on the turf for an unbelievable 12-yard touchdown catch and a 28-15 Blooming Prairie lead.
The Warriors were forced to punt on their next drive and after forcing a BP punt after five plays, they took over at their own 31. Again the Blooming Prairie defense bent but did not break, as BOLD was stopped at the Blossom 18 after a 10-play drive. Blooming Prairie’s offense started back the other way and moved smartly down the field through the air as Thomas found Hagen for gains of 22 and 29 yards and also hooked up with Alex Baldwin on a 3rd and 4 situation for a gain of 14 yards to help move the ball to the Warrior 12-yard line. Thomas then fired his fourth TD pass of the game, as he found Vigeland over the middle for a 12-yard scoring strike and a three score lead for the Blossoms at 34-15.
Blooming Prairie’s defense then crippled any chance of a BOLD comeback by forcing a three-and-out and after a 32-yard punt, the Blossoms took over at their own 41. The Blooming Prairie offense was then looking for a clock-killing drive, and they then embarked on the second-longest drive in Prep Bowl history, taking 8:50 off the 4th quarter clock in running 13 plays, all runs, and the drive was capped off by Pryor going into the end zone from 6 yards out on 4th and goal to cap the scoring at 41-15.
For the game, Thomas was 23 for 30 passing for 298 yards and four touchdowns, while Hagen tallied 8 catches for 125 yards and two touchdowns. Alex Baldwin added 5 catches for 35 yards, Vigeland brought in 3 passes for 24 yards and a touchdown, Simon tallied 3 catches for 41 yards and Fieberger added 2 catches for 60 yards. Matthew Pryor led the Blossoms ground game with 29 carries for 68 yards and a TD, Baldwin added 3 rushes for 21 yards and Thomas ran once for 13 yards and a first down on the last Blooming Prairie drive.
The Blooming Prairie defense held the potent BOLD offense to only 238 total yards, including -17 rushing yards. The Blossoms sacked Sagedahl six times with Hagen credited with not only the pick six but a half sack as well. Jarret Larson led the Blossoms with 2.5 sacks, Dylan Nirk added 2 sacks and Luke Larkoski notched one.
Blooming Prairie finishes with a perfect 13-0 record, and the championship is the second team title earned in school history, the other being the girls softball team claiming the 2016 Class A crown.