This fall couldn't have come soon enough for Mankato West.
The Scarlets had high hopes for 2020 and lived up to expectations, finishing 6-0 and thrashing opponents by more than 24 points a night.
The prep powerhouse, however, didn’t have the opportunity to pursue a fifth state title after the Minnesota State High School League announced that there would be no state tournaments last fall.
Mankato West looked the part of one of the state's top-ranked teams in its first road tilt of the season.
The Scarlets, ranked No. 1 in Class 5A in The Associated Press poll, defeated Big Southeast Red Subdistrict rival New Prague 41-7 on Friday.
A 76-yard touchdown run on a fourth-and-1 direct snap to Ryan Haley got the Scarlets (2-0, 2-0) on the board late in the first quarter.
Quarterback Zander Dittbenner got involved in the passing game in the second quarter, particularly with Mekhi Collins.
Dittbenner connected with Collins, who leaped over a defender for a 9-yard touchdown grab to push the Mankato West lead to 13-0 early in the second quarter.
New Prague quarterback Luke Shepard hit Ethan Chromy down the sidelines. Chromy broke tackles for a 76-yard score to cut it to 13-7.
It was Dittbenner to Collins again, this time on a well-placed 24-yard touchdown ball down the left sideline to make it 21-7, a score that held until halftime.
Collins shined again by tip-toeing for a 9-yard touchdown grab midway through the third quarter to put the game out of reach.
The Scarlets’ Walker Britz ran 14 times for 187 yards, 43 coming on a third-quarter touchdown.
Dittbenner finished 8-for-17 passing for 143 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Collins’ three receptions totaled to 42 yards and three touchdowns.
Shepard finished 5-for-15 passing for 131 yards, a touchdown and zero interceptions.
New Prague (1-1, 1-1) was limited to 26 rushing yards on 27 attempts.
MN Football Hub polls are for entertainment purposes only.