Hutchinson halfback Alex Elliott celebrated after scoring the game's first touchdown. ALEX KORMANN, Star Tribune
Asked about the intangibles of his latest Prep Bowl championship football team, Hutchinson coach Andy Rostberg spoke of cultivating belief before trading the philosophical for the physical.
“We’re pretty good for a team that can’t kick and can’t throw much,” Rostberg joked. “We’re not bad after that. We can kind of rumble on you and run the ball.”
The Tigers ran over and ran past Kasson-Mantorville throughout a 42-14 victory in the Class 4A title game Friday at U.S. Bank Stadium. Rostberg, a two-time state champ as Hutchinson’s quarterback, captured his third state title as a coach.
No. 2 Hutchinson (12-1) ran the ball on 55 of its 58 plays, gaining 423 yards. Running backs Alex Elliott and Mitchell Piehl, behind a tremendous offensive line, finished with 125 and 128 yards, respectively. Both recorded long touchdown runs, Elliott for 40 and Piehl for 90. For the game, the Tigers averaged 7.7 yards per carry.
No. 9 Kasson-Mantorville (9-4), making its first Prep Bowl appearance, could do little right on defense. Focus on the area between the tackles, and Hutchinson goes wide. Guard the edges, and the Tigers hit plays up the gut.
The KoMets couldn’t cheat. Though it wouldn’t matter if they tried. Coach Joel Swanson lamented that even when his staff called the correct defense, Hutchinson runners “just outquicked us.”
“I wouldn’t say it was frustrating,” said KoMets senior Kellen Wilke, starting linebacker and offensive lineman. “We just haven’t had that happen yet this year.”
The Tigers won the physical battles, too.
“You’re always getting hit, each and every play,” Wilke said. “And you’re getting hit hard.”
Down 20-0 and coming off a possession fumbled away at the Hutchinson 8-yard line, Kasson-Mantorville finally hit back on offense. Quarterback Matt Donovan’s 30-yard touchdown run cut the deficit in the second quarter. And for a moment, it appeared the KoMets might muster the magic used in their semifinal upset of No. 1 Becker, the only team to defeat Hutchinson this season.
“That’s definitely the kind of team we are, any time somebody makes a big play, it’s a boost for everyone,” Donovan said.
Hutchinson didn’t flinch. The Tigers executed an 11-play drive covering 69 yards — including a fourth-down conversion — and built a commanding 28-7 halftime lead.
The Hutchinson defense kept Kasson-Mantorville in check. Friday marked only the third game in which the KoMets scored 14 or fewer points. Senior defensive back Samuel Rensch led the defense with 11 tackles.
Swanson said the Tigers’ speed and physicality stood out among the teams he saw this season. That’s the impression Hutchinson players hoped to make.
“That’s pretty much our mentality,” senior offensive lineman Maxten Einck said, “to throw haymakers and see who gets bloodier at the end of the day.”
Hutchinson’s football faithful rejoiced in their first Black Friday since 2013.
Their Tigers, donning black uniforms with yellow numbers, ran over and ran past Kasson-Mantorville throughout a 42-14 victory in the Class 4A Prep Bowl played at U.S. Bank Stadium.
No. 2-ranked Hutchinson (12-1) captured its sixth state championship.
Running backs Aaron Elliott and Mitchell Piehl, running behind a tremendous offensive line, each eclipsed 100 yards. And both recorded long touchdown runs, Elliott for 40 and Piehl for 90.
No. 9 Kasson-Mantorville (9-4), making its first Prep Bowl appearance, cut its deficit to 20-7 in the second quarter on quarterback Matt Donovan’s 30-yard touchdown run. For a moment, it appeared the KoMets might muster the magic used in their semifinal upset of No. 1 Becker, the only team to defeat Hutchinson this season.
The Tigers didn’t flinch. They executed an 11-play drive covering 69 yards — including a fourth-down conversion — and built a commanding 28-7 halftime lead.