Mahnomen wins Class 1A state championship
MINNEAPOLIS - Entering the 2012 season, the Mahnomen Indians were considered one of the best Class 1A teams in the state.
After Saturday, the Indians are officially the best after beating Bethlehem Academy of Faribault 20-14 inside the Metrodome for the Class 1A state championship.
The victory concludes a perfect season by No. 1 ranked Mahnomen, which finishes with a record of 14-0 and claims the school's seventh state title.
"I told the kids before the game, to respect the tradition, you add to the tradition," said Mahnomen head coach John Clark Jr., who also won his first state championship. "This was their time, their championship."
The Indians didn't use anything fancy to take down the Cardinals (11-4) by employing exactly what got them to the championship game -- a strong rushing attack and a stingy defense.
"We basically ran two plays over and over, the veer and midline, and they couldn't stop it," said senior lineman Jacob Hedstrom. "This is due to 100-percent effort, we pride ourselves on doing the small details well."
Senior quarterback Jacob Pavek added to his legendary Mahnomen career by leading the Indians with 153 rushing yards on 23 carries and two touchdowns.
Over and over, Pavek and the Mahnomen offense picked up their third downs, with a conversion rate of 10 out of 15.
"It was all on the offensive linemen," Pavek said of the team's rushing success, which went for 288 yards on 60 carries. "On third down, we just executed well."
Those third-down conversions led to long, drawn out drives, which usually ended in the end zone.
The first Indian scoring drive came on the first series of the game, which went for 10 plays and 76 yards. Pavek capped it with an 18-yard veer option touchdown.
After a booming punt by the Cardinals landed Mahnomen on their own four, the Indians carved out a near Prep Bowl record drive.
Mahnomen put themselves in great third and short possessions, as they converted four third downs and one fourth and two.
The drive ate up 96 yards, 19 plays and 8:44 off the clock. The marathon of a drive was capped on a Pavek one-yard plunge to put the Indians up 14-0, after the two-point conversion pass to Nathan Hanson.
The Prep Bowl time of possession record on one drive is 9:36, held by Stillwater.
Overall, Mahnomen owned the time of possession, holding the ball for a grand total of 31:20, compared to Bethlehem Academy's 16:40.
"Our plan was to play keep away from them," Clark said. "In the first half, the kids executed well. Pavek just read the defense well and made the plays."
The Section 1-1A champion Cardinals used the legs of their leading rusher senior quarterback Kyle Filzen to put together a second-half opening scoring drive.
Filzen gained 55 rushing yards on eight carries, as the Cardinals put together their own long drive, which ate up 17 plays and 7:06 of the third quarter to pull Bethlehem Academy to 14-7. Filzen capped the drive on a one-yard dive on fourth and goal.
Mahnomen kept pace, using a 17-play drive to eat into the fourth quarter, but it ended on an interception by senior Tim Angell.
On Mahnomen's next possession, after a three-and-out by the Cardinals, the door was slammed.
Using the success of their rushing attack, Pavek read the defense perfectly on fourth and five by pulling back on a play action and hitting wide receiver Hanson in stride for a back-breaking 23-yard touchdown and a 20-7 advantage with 3:25 left in the fourth quarter.
"I read the defense and saw their backer was playing run, so I checked to a pass and saw Nathan right away wide open," Pavek said.
But the scoring series was saved after Hedstrom pounced on a Mahnomen fumble on the play before Pavek's touchdown pass.
"We knew coming in we couldn't turn the ball over like we did last year," Pavek said, referring to Mahnomen's title game loss to Dawson-Boyd in 2011, due in part to five lost turnovers.
The Cardinals scored quickly in 1:18 on a Filzen to Angell 15-yard end zone strike.
But the Indian's championship was sealed after junior Trevor Haugo recovered the attempted onside kick.
The Indians were able to put the cuffs on the big-play Cardinal offense, limiting them to 148 rushing yards and 29 passing yards by Filzen.
"Our goal was to shut down their backs," said Pavek, who also plays defensive end. "We needed to keep them hemmed in."
Playing in the championship game last year was also an advantage by just knowing the routine of the day.
"Mahnomen has such a strong tradition, too, and playing in a game like this isn't foreign to us," Hedstrom said. "It's just amazing winning it after being ranked number one for most of the year and going undefeated.
"Everyone wants to beat the best and we got everyone's best. That made us better and now we are the best."
State Class 1A championship in the Metrodome, Minneapolis: Mahnomen vs. Bethlehem Academy.
Bethlehem Acad. 0 0 7 7 - 14
Mahnomen 6 8 0 6 - 20
1st 06:43 MAHNOMEN - Jacob Pavek 18 yd run (Trevor Haugo rush failed); 10 plays, 74 yards,
2nd 07:41 MAHNOMEN - Jacob Pavek 1 yd run (Nathan Hanson pass from Jacob Pavek); 19 plays, 96 yards,
3rd 04:47 BETHACAD - Kyle Filzen 1 yd run (Issac Stadler kick); 16 plays, 71 yards
4th 02:00 MAHNOMEN - Nathan Hanson 23 yd pass from Jacob Pavek (Jacob Pavek pass failed); 8 plays, 59 yards
4th 00:39 BETHACAD - Tim Angell 15 yd pass from Kyle Filzen (Issac Stadler kick) 6 plays, 53 yards.
Rushing (att-yds) -- Mah: Jacob Pavek 23-153; Garret Hoffner 21-81; Trevor Haugo 13-51; Bryce Penner 1-3. TOTAL: 60-288...BA: Kyle Filzen 15-93; Blake Langerud 11-50; C. Von Ruden 1-4; Matt Siegfried 2-1; Adam Clark 1-0. TOTAL: 30-148.
Passing (comp-att-int-yds-td) -- Mah: Pavek 2-5-2-43-1...BA: Filzen 4-7-0-29-1.
Receiving (rec-yds-td) -- Mah: Nathan Hanson 1-23-1; Jason Schoenborn 1-20-0...BA: Tim Angell 2-18-1; Adam Clark 2-11-0.