Robbie Grimsley is a junior running back for the Hutchinson Tigers who wears jersey number 5. Take his initials, his number and think of NFL quarterback Robert Griffin III -- also known as RG3. Thus, Grimsley is RG5.
RG5 had a red-letter day Friday in the Class 4A Prep Bowl. He carried the ball only three times in the first quarter, but he scored touchdowns on all three plays: 76 yards, 57 yards and a Prep Bowl-record 92 yards for a one-period total of 225. The defending state champion Tigers led 21-0 after the opening quarter, 35-0 at halftime and cruised to a 49-7 victory over Holy Angels.
Grimsley finished the game with six carries for 261 yards and the three TDs. It was an amazing performance that will long be remembered in Prep Bowl lore. But to Hutchinson coach Andy Rostberg, it was no big whoop.
"It didn't surprise me," the coach said. "Robbie's a good back and he's been doing that all year for us, long runs. And he's a game-breaker. He doesn't need much of a crack to shoot through there, and we were giving him some cracks. And if he gets out there in the secondary, it's usually over."
Grimsley's cohort in the backfield, senior Tory Adams, rushed 19 times for 147 yards and his own three scores (plus a punt return for a touchdown). That combination was lethal.
"I'm just really excited," said RG5. "The O line played a great game, they made it really easy for Tory and me to run. And the defense got a shutout until the end. It was overall a great effort by the whole team."
Grimsley was accepting no personal credit, either.
"I can't put that all on me," he said. "The O line made huge holes and it was just a track meet from there. The only thing I was thinking was, 'Run as fast as you can and don't let anyone catch you.' "
Last year Hutchinson beat Holy Family 67-7 in the Prep Bowl. Combine that with Friday's score and the total is 116-14. The Tigers have won 26 games in a row.
RG5's Prep Bowl didn't begin very auspiciously; he fumbled the opening kickoff and Holy Angels recovered. Rostberg mentioned that fact in the locker room at halftime.
"I told him, 'There isn't a worse way to start a game than fumbling the opening kickoff.' "
He made up for it.
GRAND MEADOW'S PURPLE PRIDE
It can be hard to understate the importance of Metrodome experience in the Prep Bowl. Teams that come to the big dome for the first time -- in the state semifinals -- often are a little intimidated by the sheer vastness of the arena. For Grand Meadow, Friday's nine-man state championship game was further proof that Metrodome experience can pay off in a big way.
A year ago the Superlarks were the state runners-up, losing to Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley 40-22 in the Prep Bowl. This time around, Grand Meadow rolled to a 28-6 victory over Underwood, a team that was playing in its first Prep Bowl. And for everyone in the southeastern Minnesota town, the title was big, big stuff.
"You can't even imagine," said coach Gary Sloan (pictured hugging quarterback Trenton Bleifus), whose career victory total now stands at 150. "Grand Meadow's a great football town and we've had a lot of success but this has been the one thing we haven't been able to do. And now we've done it."
Grand Meadow, which was the Class C runner-up in 1987, has now won the school's first state title in any sport. The Superlarks have only three seniors on their 24-man roster, so there may be more of the same in the future.
"I think we've got really mature kids," said Sloan. "Even though we're young, I think we're real mature and I don't think we play like we're young. I'm just so proud of these guys, and our whole community, the way they all support us. It's unbelievable."
Bleifus ran for two short touchdowns and threw to Blake Olson for a 36-yard score in the victory. Bleifus completed 10 of 20 passes for 111 yards and Landon Jacobson rushed 28 times for 123 yards and a touchdown. Underwood scored in the fourth quarter when Adam Creek threw to LeRoy Hauge for a 32-yard TD.
A FOURTH TITLE FOR CHATFIELD
Chatfield played a strong defensive game in defeating Minneota/Lilcoln HI 17-7 in the Class 2A Prep Bowl. Minneota was held to 62 rushing yards while quarterback Austin Buysse completed 20 of 33 passes for 204 yards. But Chatfield held the Vikings out of the end zone until Buysse hit Jaff Gladis from 16 yards in the final seconds.
Jacob Neis led the Gophers with 24 carries for 105 yards and a touchdown. Nate Skare scored on a 3-yard run and kicked a 19-yard field goal for Chatfield.
Chatfield and Minneota are two of the state's storied football programs. Chatfield has been to the state playoffs eight times and won back-to-back-to-back Class C state titles from 1994 through 1996. Minneota, which is making its 11th appearance, had a similar run of three consecutive Class C championships in 1986, 1987 and 1988.
EAGLES COMPLETE BIG-SCHOOL THREEPEAT
Eden Prairie won its third consecutive big-school state title with a 28-7 victory over Rosemount in the Class 6A game. The Eagles were 5A champs in 2011 and 6A winners last season. Eden Prairie outgained the Irish 403 yards to 157, with Anthony Anderson rushing 19 times for 165 yards and a touchdown.
DOWN MEMORY LANE FOR 1996 CHATFIELD PLAYER
In 1996 Matt Sogla was a member of the Chatfield football team that defeated Hawley 12-7 in the Class C Prep Bowl for the Gophers' third consecutive state championship. In that game, a 64-yd Hawley touchdown pass with less than three minutes to play was negated by an illegal procedure penalty. Sogla was the defensive back who gave up the touchdown, and he was quite relieved when it was called back.
"My teammates were saying there was a penalty on the play and it was coming back," Sogla recalled. "Talk about going from utter devastation to complete relief. At that moment and until in the locker room, I was never aware what the penalty was for. But at the time, it didn't matter because we still had to stop Hawley from scoring the rest of the game. Although I intercepted the game's final pass, I was still in shock by what could have happened. I found it difficult to celebrate. The locker room was fairly quiet as compared to in the previous years. We left everything on the field that early afternoon."
Matt, who is now a high school football official, came to the Prep Bowl to watch the 2013 Chatfield Gophers. With him was his wife Carolyn and his 6-year-old daughter Madison -- who wore her dad's old high school jersey.
--Grand Meadow's seniors lost only one game wearing their purple jerseys, and the underclassmen have never lost while wearing purple. "We feel pretty good when we put those on," said Sloan.
PREP BOWL XXXII
Nine-man/ Grand Meadow 28, Underwood 6
Class 2A/ Chatfield 17, Minneota 7
Class 4A/ Hutchinson 49, Holy Angels 7
Class 6A/ Eden Prairie 28, Rosemount 7
10 a.m.: Class 1A/ Dawson-Boyd (12-1) vs. Mahnomen (13-0)
1 p.m.: Class 3A/ St. Croix Lutheran (10-2) vs. New London-Spicer (10-2)
4 p.m.: Class 5A/ Brainerd (12-0) vs. Owatonna (12-0)
--Diet Coke Count: 5 for the day, 40 for the fall state tournaments.
BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 219
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 5,777
(*During the 2013-14 school year)
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