Gus Phillips’ grandmother leaned over the Metrodome railing, calling him over for a hug after his Blue Earth team defeated Rochester Lourdes 30-7 Saturday for its first Class 3A Prep Bowl championship.
Phillips, a 6-foot-2, 175-pound junior, leaped off the turf and into her arms.
“Oh, my gosh,” his grandmother said a few moments into supporting his weight.
Rochester Lourdes could relate. Phillips was too much for the Eagles’ offense and special teams. He finished with a team-best nine tackles, three sacks among his five tackles-for-loss and blocked both a field goal and a punt. The latter created a short field for a third-quarter touchdown.
The neon-green sleeves of Phillips’s undershirt made him hard to miss. He wore it for superstitious reasons.
“I think it’s my lucky shirt because I started wearing it at the beginning of playoffs,” Phillips said before adding with a laugh, “I have washed it.”
The Buccaneers put opposing offenses through the ringer during the same stretch. Saturday marked the third consecutive game Blue Earth held the opposing team at or near a season-low point total.
Rochester Lourdes, which shattered the school record with more than 4,300 rushing yards this season, managed 58 yards on 32 carries. Blue Earth outgained the Eagles 338 to 117 in total yards.
Phillips, who moved in from LeCenter before the school year, was a key cog in the Buccaneers’ drive to a championship.
“He’s been a huge asset to our team,” senior running back David Franta said. “It’s hard to put into words what he brings to this team on both sides of the ball.”
Franta led all players with 13 carries for 144 yards and two touchdowns. He took a pitch to the left in the second quarter and went 79 yards for the game’s first score.
“A lot of people can run; not everybody can block,” Franta said. “So I credit that to my offensive line. I think that run kind of loosened their defense up.”
Blue Earth quarterback Kysten Zierke connected with Isaac Darrington on a pair of scoring passes.
Griff Slightam bolted for a 67-yard TD run in the second quarter for Rochester Lourdes, which aimed to win its second state title in three seasons.