Celebrating a perfect season and Grand Meadow’s third consecutive Nine-Man football state championship, Superlarks coach Gary Sloan briefly became emotional after his team defeated Underwood 34-20 Friday in the opening game of Prep Bowl XXXIV at the University of Minnesota.
He choked up a bit as he talked about his twin sons Tyler and Trevor, who had just completed their senior season. The coach’s feelings, however, also centered on the rest of the seniors, boys who have grown up with each other and each other’s families.
“When you’re in a small town like Grand Meadow it’s not just seeing the kids at the football field,” Sloan said. “These kids have grown up coming to my house, coming to my sons’ birthday parties, and my kids going to their place for birthday parties. And it does make it extra special to me personally.”
The football family ties in Grand Meadow include senior quarterback Michael Stejskal, who completed 12 of 19 passes for 218 yards and three touchdowns Friday. His father Deke and uncle Anthony are two of the three assistant coaches along with Aaron Myhre.
Trevor Sloan is a 6-foot-3, 192-pound lineman and team captain who had five tackles against Underwood. Tyler is a 6-foot-5, 250-pounder who is listed as a kicker on the roster. In truth, Tyler’s playing career ended in the third game of his sophomore season when he suffered his third concussion.
Unable to play, Tyler transformed into a de facto member of the coaching staff. He became a master at breaking down film of opponents and playing quarterback on the scout team in practice. This season he took over the scouting reports, too. His dad prepared the scouting report before the season opener against Lanesboro, but Tyler did that job for the rest of the season, including before the Prep Bowl.
“Tyler is such a big part of our team,” Gary Sloan said. “He watches more film than I do, and I’m serious. On the sidelines he’s making suggestions to me all the time and I’m doing what he says.”
The postgame celebration was pretty special for the Sloans. Gary’s other child, sophomore daughter Allison, was on the field. When the state championship trophy was presented to the Superlarks, it went right to Tyler. He carried it with pride, posing for photos with the rest of the team and reaching up into the stands for handshakes.
“For me personally, this one means a lot,” said a proud father.
CLASS 2A: CALEDONIA 40, PIPESTONE 0
The Warriors captured their sixth state title since 2007 and first since 2012. A 26-point second quarter, which included two short touchdown runs by Sam Stemper, gave Caledonia a 33-point lead at halftime. Owen King threw four touchdown passes, two each to Alex Goergen and Colton Lampert. Stemper rushed 20 times for 172 yards and King completed 13 of 20 passes for 207 yards.
CLASS 4A: BECKER 35, SOUTH ST. PAUL 14
The Bulldogs repeated as state champions, scoring 14 points in each of the first two quarters against the Packers. Becker’s Andrew Stanger threw for a touchdown and ran for one, and Gabe Dertinger had two rushing scores. South St. Paul quarterback Dan Pietruszewski ran 1 yard for a touchdown and threw 11 yards to Austin Brandecker for a score. Coach Dwight Lundeen’s career record is 342-145-3; he has been the Bulldogs coach since he started the program 47 years ago.
CLASS 6A: OSSEO 14, EAST RIDGE 13
Prince Kruah scored the tying touchdown on a 4-yard run with 24 seconds to play and the extra point gave the Orioles their first football state title. Osseo scored on the game’s opening drive as Malik Gaillard threw to Damario Armstrong for a 51-yard touchdown. East Ridge led 10-7 at halftime after Grant Ryerse kicked a 36-yard field goal and Otumus Payemanu hit Sam Schiller for a 23-yard score. A 41-yard field goal by Ryerse put the Raptors in front 13-7 midway through the third quarter. Osseo’s winning drive covered 71 yards in 16 plays. Kruah ran 43 times for 189 yards.
STATE VOLLEYBALL TOURNAMENT
Saturday’s championship matches are set for Xcel Energy Center. In Class 3A it will be Prior Lake vs. Eagan, in 2A it will be Belle Plaine vs. Concordia Academy-Roseville, and in 1A it will be Bethlehem Academy vs. Waterville-Elysian-Morristown.
In Friday’s semifinals…
--Class 3A/ Prior Lake defeated Roseville 3-0 and Eagan beat Champlin Park 3-1.
--Class 2A/ Belle Plaine beat Stewartville 3-1 and Concordia Academy-Roseville beat Rocori 3-0.
--Class 1A/ Bethlehem Academy beat Heritage Christian 3-1 and Waterville-Elysian-Morristown beat Tracy-Milroy-Balaton 3-1.
BY THE NUMBERS
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