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Perspective from teammate's death teaches Prep Bowl finalist what matters

By JIM PAULSEN, Star Tribune, 11/28/19, 7:30PM CST


Dassel-Cokato has reached its first football championship game in 47 years with a team that helped a community rally behind a beloved player who died two years ago.

Coach Ryan Weinandt talked to Dassel-Cokato players during a recent practice. The Chargers will play Saturday in the Class 3A Prep Bowl against No. 1-ranked Pierz. Photo: Brian Peterson * brian.peterson@startribune.com

COKATO, Minn. — The lead was precarious, at best. After a 17-point first-half blitz, Dassel-Cokato was scratching and clawing and doing everything it could to hold on.

Annandale, its Class 3A semifinal opponent, had whittled the Chargers’ lead to a field goal, 17-14. The Cardinals were marching in the fourth quarter, a relentless drive that seemed destined to find the end zone and possibly snatch the lead, and the game, away.

There was tension, all right. But on the Dassel-Cokato sideline, there was no worry. This group had faced down a much bigger adversary and came out stronger. Win or lose, this was just a game.

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