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Chris Murphy, Published November 30 2013

Mahnomen football makes it back-to-back Class 1A state titles

MINNEAPOLIS – It’s only fitting Mahnomen help turn off the lights of the Metrodome. It was a second home to the Indians football team.

“It’s almost like it’s the MahnomenDome, in a way,” Mahnomen senior tight end/defensive back and captain Nathan Hanson said. “It’s too bad it’s going away. I guess we’re going to have to start a new tradition in the next dome.”

Saturday was Mahnomen’s 13th Prep Bowl appearance. The Indians played in the first of the three final high school games that will ever be played at the Metrodome. They celebrated the only way they know how: Winning the Minnesota Class 1A state title 46-13 over Dawson-Boyd.

“I thought it was a fitting end, the way our kids played,” Mahnomen coach John Clark Jr. said. “It’s one thing to play good and great all year, but when you get to the biggest game probably of their careers they probably played their best game. I thought they played with a toughness and a tenaciousness they played with all year. We kind of did our thing.”

The win over Dawson-Boyd was Mahnomen’s 28th straight win – the longest active streak in Minnesota. Coming into the game, the Indians outscored opponents 592-44 in its previous 13 wins. It was getting pretty easy and a little boring for the Indians, but if a state title wasn’t reason enough, Saturday’s game was a chance at redemption. The Blackjacks were the last team to beat the Indians in the 2011 Prep Bowl.

“It’s perfect,” Hanson said. “14-0 (season), 52-2 career and beat the team that beat us. That’s all you can ask for.”

The win was a warning to any team with Mahnomen on its schedule. Do not give the Indians extra incentive to win. The Indians never gave Dawson-Boyd a chance in Saturday’s title game, scoring 12 points before the Blackjacks touched the ball.

The opening drive was typical Mahnomen football. The Indians went 71 yards on 11 rushing plays and took 5 minutes, 35 seconds off the clock. Kody Lefebvre scored on a 7-yard touchdown run to cap the drive, the Indians recovered an onside kick and two rushing plays from Tom Pavek made it 12-0 before the Blackjacks could blink. A year after his brother, Jake, led Mahnomen to a state championship at quarterback, Tom did the same, as he rushed for 179 yards and two touchdowns and caught a 44-yard touchdown pass.

“We wanted this all year and we’ve been working hard and it paid off,” Pavek said. “It means everything. We work hard and we fight through every game.”

Dawson-Boyd punted on the ensuing drive and two plays later, Bob Bjorge was sprinting 36 yards to the end zone to make it 18-0. Dawson-Boyd scored on the ensuing drive on a 9-yard pass from Joey Lee to Michael Lee on fourth-and-3, but the Blackjacks would get no closer. A 44-yard halfback pass from Lefebvre to Pavek made it 25-7 and, after the Indians forced a fumble, Austin Reitan scored on a 40-yard run to take a 31-7 lead into the half.

“We knew it was going to be a dogfight,” Lefebvre said. “It’s kind of sad (the Metrodome is closing), but we played in the very first (Prep Bowl) and the last one. There’s nothing words can say about it.”

The Mahnomen winning streak moves on, but the expectations remain the same.

“Hopefully it doesn’t stop,” Hanson said. “Another championship for Mahnomen would be amazing. And another one after that would be too.”

D 0 7 6 0–13

M 18 13 7 8–46

M-Lefebvre 7 run (kick missed)

M-Pavek 10 run (run failed)

M-Bjorge 36 run (run failed)

D-M. Lee 10 pass from J. Lee (Popma kick)

M-Pavek 44 pass from Lefebvre (Pavek kick)

M-Reitan 40 run (kick missed)

D-M. Lee 7 pass from J. Lee (pass failed) 3:42 left in the third. 79 yards 13 plays.

M-Pavek 61 run (Pavek kick)

M-Lefebvre 1 run (Reitan run)

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING: M, Bjorge 4-51, Pavek 24-179, Reitan 6-79, Lefebvre 10-67, Haugo 5-16, Foss 1-5, Londo 1-2, Schoenborn 1-0. D, Anyasike 7-14, J. Lee 6-7

PASSING: M, Pavek 2-4-0 39 yards, Lefebvre 1-1-0 44 yards. D, J. Lee 27-52-1 230 yards.

RECEIVING: M, Lefebvre 2-39, Pavek 1-44. D, M. Lee 12-107, Stelter 5-56, Olson 1-7, Anyasike 2-14, Collins 3-16, Bothun 2-13, Lindblad 2-17.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548