Kenyon-Wanamingo Wins Conference Championship in Thriller
Kenyon-Wanamingo captured the Mid Southeast District West Division championship by going unbeaten in the first year of the league.
It was not easy. The Blooming Prairie Awesome Blossoms put up an incredible fight in the season finale in the Moat in Kenyon on Thursday night and came just a couple of points short of sending the game into overtime.
The final was Kenyon-Wanamingo 42, Blooming Prairie 40.
Before the game began both coaches sounded like they believed it would be a defensive battle.
Kenyon-Wanamingo led at the half 29-22. The Knights won the toss to start the game and deferred so Blooming Prairie took the football. After a terrific return by Wyatt Grundmeier, the Awesome Blossoms started their first drive at the Kenyon-Wanamingo 49-yard line and proceeded to go right down the field.
Anthony Nelson would score on a 1-yard run after an eight-play 49-yard drive at the 9:03 mark. The extra point was no good. The key plays in the drive were 14- and 16-yard passes.
Kenyon-Wanamingo would respond on the very next drive going 67 yards in six plays. Senior quarterback Luke Rechtzigel hit junior receiver Gavin Roosen on a 10-yard score with 6:18 to go in the first quarter and Knights sophomore kicker Jacob Buelke was able to kick the extra point for a 7-6 lead.
After a defensive stop, the Knights lead would be extended when senior Ted Androli would bounce outside and looked like he was going to be tripped, but instead of falling he maintained his balance, kicked it into another gear and streaked 56 yards to the end zone. The extra point would be no good so it was 13-6 Knights with the lead.
The ensuing kick Blooming Prairie would start with great field position again at the 47-yard line of Kenyon-Wanamingo, and take the lead after a quick slant connection of four yards by sophomore quarterback Lucas Noble to senior receiver Mitchell Jones.
The two-point conversion was good on a pass from Noble to Jones also.
After the kickoff, Kenyon-Wanamingo started a drive at their own 3-yard line and and on a third and long attempted a pass. Senior quarterback Luke Rechtzigel threw the pass a bit high over the middle. The target was senior Jacob Whipple.
Whipple got one hand on the ball, but tipped it into the air and Awesome Blossom Anthony Nelson made a great diving interception and they were in business at the 11-yard line of Kenyon-Wanamingo.
On the very next play, Noble attempted to hit Nelson in the corner of the end zone and Gavin Roosen intercepted.
Kenyon-Wanamingo was stopped and on the next possession by Blooming Prairie, Knight Jake Whipple would tally another interception.
Ted Androli sped up the middle 59 yards for a score with 7:29 to go in the half and Calvin Steberg would run in the two-point conversion.
Blooming Prairie would score on their next offensive series on a Anthony Nelson 48-yard TD. The two-point pass was good with 6:11 to go until half.
The Knights would score with 2:47 to go in the half on a 21-yard crossing route pass from Rechtzigel to Whipple and convert the extra point.
Blooming Prairie would have great field position again starting at the 45 of Kenyon-Wanamingo and was moving the football when Mitchell Jones caught the ball in the open field and after taking a couple of steps had the ball slip out of his hands like a bar of soap in the shower. The Knights would recover and the score at the half was Kenyon-Wanamingo 29, Blooming Prairie 22.
The Knights started the second half at the 38-yard line and appeared to be stuffed. Back to punt on a fourth and eight, Gavin Roosen would fake and pick up the first down and a lot more to extend the drive. It ended in a Steberg 4-yard run and the extra point kick was good.
Blooming Prairie would start their next drive at the 40, and with 3:56 to go in the third, junior quarterback Lucas Noble would run the ball in from six yards out. The extra point pass attempt failed.
After a punt was partially blocked, the Knights would start their final scoring drive from the 32 of Blooming Prairie and cap it off with a 1-yard keeper by Rechtzigel on the first play of the fourth quarter.
The Awesome Blossoms started their next drive at the Kenyon-Wanamingo 49 and scored on a 4-yard run by Nelson with 9:09 to go; the extra point pass was no good.
Blooming Prairie scored their final TD on a Noble 5-yard run and, after a time out, decided to try Noble up the middle for the two-point conversion to tie, but the play was stuffed by the Knights.
After the onside kick was recovered by Kenyon-Wanamingo, they took a knee three times and ran out the clock for the 42-40 victory.
Kenyon-Wanamingo was undefeated in the league and finished with a 7-1 record. They lost their season opener to Goodhue.
Blooming Prairie finished with a 6-2 mark, their only losses to Faribault Bethlehem Academy and the Knights.
Seedings are Saturday and the playoffs begin next week. Both teams should have home games to start the playoffs.