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'The best we saw': Coaches give the inside scoop on Class 6A Prep Bowl finalists

By Star Tribune, 11/28/19, 7:15PM CST

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Champlin Park and Wayzata faced four common opponents, whose coaches -- along with the Star Tribune's Jim Paulsen and David La Vaque -- assess their chances and predict the outcome.


Wayzata's Joe Demro (99) and Anthony Ukofia (2) (Anthony Souffle, Star Tribune).

Champlin Park (10-1) and Wayzata (12-0) faced four common opponents — Centennial, East Ridge, Prior Lake and Blaine — and went 7-1 against them. Star Tribune staff write David La Vaque asked coaches of those four teams to take us inside the Rebels and Trojans and pick a winner in the Class 6A Prep Bowl, which kicks off at 7 p.m. Friday at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Mike Diggins, Centennial

On Champlin Park: Their quarterback [Jaice Miller] is a dude. And they have solid backs and receivers. Overall, they have good team speed.

On Wayzata: On offense, they are a power team. They can run. We were going to give them the pass but they can throw it, too.

Pick: Wayzata by less than three points.

Matt Gegenheimer, Prior Lake

On Champlin Park: They have more of a big-play offense. Their quarterback makes it go. Their receiver [Brock Johnson] makes big plays every game. Both teams’ defenses are the best we saw.

On Wayzata: The most consistent team on offense and defense and they have the best offensive line we saw. They had a 19-play, 95-yard drive against us.

Pick: I wouldn’t want to play Wayzata again.

Dan Fritze, East Ridge

On Champlin Park: Miller has made huge improvement this season and the defense has gotten much better against the run. This is a well-balanced team.

On Wayzata: One of the best offenses in the history of Minnesota. The offensive line is huge and when they run those run-pass options, they are almost unstoppable.

Pick: I’ll be shocked if Wayzata doesn’t win.

Mike Law, Blaine

On Champlin Park: They spread you out at times and make you play the whole field. But they also can line up in a heavier set and come at you.

On Wayzata: Defensively, they are very athletic and that creates a lot of problems for teams who try to spread them out. On offense, that running back [Christian] Vasser just needs a crease and he can change the game.

Pick: Wayzata, either 21-14 or 21-17.

STAR TRIBUNE STAFF BREAKDOWN

Jim Paulsen says: These teams resemble each other, with their commitment to defense and rushing attacks led by talented runners. So what tips the scale? Wayzata’s attack-mode defense. The Trojans don’t just stop teams, they look to impose their will. That aggressive approach can leave them exposed occasionally, but on the whole, it more than makes up for any soft spots by simply overwhelming opponents. Champlin Park will need to hit a big play or two, get a strong effort from QB Jaice Miller and force Wayzata to put the ball in the air to keep things close.

Wayzata 27, Champlin Park 17

David La Vaque says: Champlin Park’s perimeter speed on offense and the speed of Wayzata’s secondary is a wash. Power football wins this game. Wayzata brings a double-dose of big and physical — the offensive line and running back Christian Vasser (44 carries and 269 yards in the semifinals). The Rebels’ front seven must answer, led by defensive lineman Sam Knutson and two tackling machines at linebacker in Obi Evuleocha and Noah Link. For Champlin Park, running back Shawn Shipman and company must push back against Joe Demro and the Trojans’ defense.

Wayzata 24, Champlin Park 21

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