Posted By: Jason Iacovino

More than any other sport, football is about rivalries.  Locally, a special football rivalry will come to a halt after Wednesday's game.

Blooming Prairie and New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva, five communities within a 15-mile radius of their midpoint, will meet for the final time in the foreseeable future in the season finale in New Richland.  The two teams have played the last six seasons since the Gopher Conference split into two, with NRHEG winning from 2008-2010 and BP winning each of the last three seasons.

Next year district scheduling takes over, and although that will mean both teams will have a better look at their section playoff foes during the regular season (Both BP and NRHEG played just 1 section opponent this year), it will apparently come at the expense of one of the great rivalries of our area.

Wednesday's game will feature two teams in very different positions; the Awesome Blossoms (7-0) are looking to lock up a No. 1 seed in Sec. 1A and are seeking their third trip to State since 2009, while the Panthers (3-4) are playing for pride.  Still, as you will learn in the time capsule below, the series has been very close no matter how the seasons pan out for both teams--and that's what great rivalries are all about...

2003: NRHEG 7, BP 6

This was a great quarterback matchup, with Blooming Prairie's Kraig Olson facing off against NRHEG's Bjorn Peterson, but the game was all about defense.  The Awesome Blossoms took an early 6-0 lead on a touchdown pass from Olson to Nate Pederson, but the Panthers struck back on a 55-yard touchdown pass from Bjorn Peterson to Matt Wetzel.  Dan Leuer added the extra point for the Panthers and NRHEG took a 7-6 lead into halftime.

The Panthers D came up with a big play early in the third with an INT by Taylor Greenwood...

Still trailing 7-6 late in the 4th, the BP defense came up with a big stop on 4th down...

NRHEG's Ben Groth sealed the win with an interception...

Both the Panthers and Blossoms would lose in the second round of the playoffs in 2003.

2004-2007: No Games

2008: NRHEG 42, BP 33

Blooming Prairie used a transfer quarterback, Austin Moe, in the renewal of its rivalry with NRHEG.  Moe shared time with Matt Zellmer and the two ran coach Chad Gimbel's spread offense effectively, but the Panthers, led by running back Greg Raymaker, got off to a quick lead and never looked back.

Raymaker finished with 267 yards rushing as the Panthers beat the Blossoms by 9 at McFarlin Field; Moe and Zellmer had 179 and 150 yards passing, respectively.  NRHEG (8-2) would go on to lose to Triton in the Sec. 2AA semifinals while BP (8-3) lost to Rushford-Peterson in the Sec. 1A title game.

2009: NRHEG 15, BP 14

This will be forever known as the inadvertant whistle game.  It's too bad, because both teams played very well and the game should have been decided without an officials blunder.  Give Panthers coach Dan Stork credit--he was the first to admit NRHEG caught a break late in the contest when a recovered fumble by BP at the NRHEG 1-yard line was called back on an inadvertant whistle, giving the Panthers the ball back and allowing them to hold onto their slim lead.

The truth is BP had two possessions following the officials' miscue, including one that went deep into NRHEG territory, but the Blossoms failed to score the winning TD.

With BP leading 12-7 at halftime, NRHEG's Danny Wagner found the endzone early in the third quarter with a 5-yard TD rush...

Trailing 15-12, BP's Aaron Krejci intercepts NRHEG's Taylor Bollinger late in the 3rd...

NRHEG was clinging to its 15-12 lead when a forced fumble recovered by Luke Heuman at the Panther's 1-yard line was nullified by an inadvertant whistle with 5:00 to go in the game...

The Blossoms would force a safety following the inadvertant whistle, cutting NRHEG's lead to 15-14 with 4:01 remaining, but the Panthers would hold on for victory.  Bollinger threw for 167 yards in the win and Wagner rushed for 79 yards; BP's Isaiah Toquam, a sophomore starting for an injured Matt Zellmer, had 195 yards passing.

The loss would only be the second of the season for BP (11-2), which made it to the State semifinals at the Metrodome.  NRHEG (5-4) lost to Triton in the Sec. 2AA semifinals.

2010: NRHEG 20, BP 18

The scene shifted back to McFarlin Field in 2010 and the rivalry was every bit as close...it was a great quarterback matchup between BP's Luc Zellmer and NRHEG's Sam Lundberg.  Hearts were heavy on the BP sideline as the Blossoms were without one of their most popular coaches, Dale Hanson, who passed away tragically earlier in the spring.  A moment of silence was held pregame to remember coach Hanson.

Michael Thomas scored an early rushing TD for BP, giving them a 6-0 lead with 2:40 to go in the first, but the 2-point try was no good, a theme that would haunt the Blossoms througout the game.  Lundberg answered with a 9-yard TD rush about a minute later and the Panthers converted a 2-point conversion and took an 8-6 lead.

NRHEG would add to the lead on a Lundberg to David Lasahn TD reception from 18 yards out with 7:54 to go in the first half.  NRHEG missed the conversion attempt, but led 14-6.  The Blossoms would answer on a 7-yd TD pass from Zellmer to Luke Heuman, but a failed conversion kept the lead with the Panthers, 14-12, which was the halftime score.

Defense dominated most of the second half until NRHEG's Geoff Ramaker added to the lead with a 47-yard TD rush with 3:56 to go in the game...

BP would come up with an answer on a Zellmer to Cooper Nelson TD pass of 4 yards with just 1:37 to go in the game, cutting the NRHEG lead to 20-18, a play that Josh Toquam saw coming thanks to memories of Dale Hanson...

Needing a 2-point conversion to tie the game, BP's Zellmer would get tackled shy of the goal line to preserve NRHEG's victory...

BP (8-3) would end up losing to Goodhue in the Sec. 1A final, while NRHEG (6-4) lost to rival Waterville-Elysian-Morristown in the Sec. 2AA semifinal.

2011: BP 33, NRHEG 30

Following three straight losses since the rivalry renewed in 2008, BP would finally turn the tables in New Richland, riding the arm of Luc Zellmer, who would get some revenge over Sam Lundberg.  This would be a back-and-forth affair, but the Blossoms had too much firepower for the Panthers, and would propel this big Week 1 victory to an 11-2 season which ended in a State semifinal loss to Dawson-Boyd at the Dome.

Meanwhile, the Panthers would finish 5-5 on the year and lose to WEM in the Sec. 2AA playoffs for the second straight year.

2012: BP 35, NRHEG 0

This was a rare lopsided game in the Blossoms-Panthers series, with sophomore quarterback John Rumpza propelling BP to victory using his arms and legs.  NRHEG was quarterbacked by Casey Rosacker, and the Panthers would struggle throughout 2012, finishing 1-8 on the season.

Rumpza hits Cole Sunde on a 9-yd TD pass in the second quarter...

Rumpza finds Michael Thomas for a 38-yard TD late in the first half...

2013: BP 28, NRHEG 7

Round 1 of John Rumpza vs. Trevor Tracy went to BP in New Richland, with the Blossoms scoring late in the first half to go up 14-0 and holding NRHEG scoreless until the fourth quarter.  Rumpza threw for 351 yards and 4 TDs in the win, while Tracy threw for 141 yards and a TD.  Both teams struggled to run the ball, which should be an interesting stat to note when Round 2 commences on Wednesday...

Rumpza hits Hunter Rudlong for a 26-yard TD late in the first half...

Tracy finds Preston Peterson for a long TD pass in the fourth quarter

BP would finish the season 10-1, losing for the second straight year to B.A. in the Sec. 1A final; NRHEG would finish 5-4 and lose to Martin County West in the Sec. 3AA quarterfinals.

Tune in Wednesday for the next chapter in the BP / NRHEG rivalry, which likely will be the last meeting in quite a while, as we bring it to you live on Kat Kountry 105 and katkountry105.com.