Nov. 18—MINNEAPOLIS — The first play from scrimmage dictated the entire afternoon for Minneota and Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa. Vikings running back Ryan Meagher ran through the right side of the line and broke off a 65-yard touchdown run.
And for the next four quarters, the Vikings imposed their will on the Jaguars.
Minneota put up 593 total offensive yards, including 370 on the ground. The defense limited BBE to 81 yards. That added up to a 63-6 victory in the Class A state football semifinals Saturday at U.S. Bank Stadium.
"We wanted to establish the run and when you think about us trying to establish the run, (Meagher's) the guy you think of off the bat," said Minneota head coach Chad Johnston.
The Vikings (13-0) are back in the Class A state championship game against Springfield in a rematch of last season's title game. Earlier on Saturday, Springfield advanced with a 36-12 win over Mahnomen/Waubun.
The first play against BBE was but a small sample of Meagher's impact. The junior running back ran for 186 yards and four touchdowns on 16 carries. He didn't have a single carry in the second half.
"I wasn't expecting that to happen exactly," Meagher said of his standout performance. "I was hoping we'd be able to open the holes that we had and get big chunks (of yards) right away. We were able to do that."
"When you look at their offensive line, they got 5-(foot)-10, 185 (pounds) at both guards and we were hoping our bigs could exploit them a little bit," said Jaguars head coach Chris Moscho. "But they're tough and they're quick. Right from the beginning, we saw how quick they were and we knew we had a game."
Mix in a pair of touchdowns from Max Rost in the second quarter and Minneota built a 49-6 halftime lead. Rost finished with 125 total yards (85 receiving, 40 rushing). And quarterback Ryan Dalager completed 11 of 18 passes for 182 yards.
"They're very explosive off the line," said BBE senior linebacker Maximus Hanson. "Then having that motion guy added an extra blocker. They really beat us up with that run game."
As dominant as the Vikings' offense was, the defense was nearly impenetrable.
The question of who'd play quarterback for BBE — Luke Dingmann or Luke Illies — lingered all week. Dingmann took the first offensive series, but Illies took the bulk of the snaps behind center. Dingmann, who confirmed after the game that he suffered a separated shoulder in the quarterfinal win against Mayer Lutheran, played as a wide receiver.
"We knew their backup (Illies) was an athlete and they have plenty of athletes, so we had to be ready no matter what," Rost said. "We had to be ready for them."
It didn't matter for Minneota. They had eight tackles for loss, tallied three sacks (two from Sawyer DeSmet) and finished with three takeaways. BBE couldn't get a first down until the 6:35 mark of the second quarter. It was 35-0 by that point.
"They're quick, they're explosive and they're coached very well," Jaguars senior Toby Cebulla said of the Vikings' defense.
The Jaguars' lone score came with 1:23 left in the first half when Illies connected with Hayden Sobiech for a 57-yard touchdown pass.
BBE made state for the second time in three seasons and reached U.S. Bank Stadium for the first time in the program's history. A blowout loss wasn't going to dampen that excitement.
"It was an awesome experience," Cebulla said. "Something new to all of us."
Since 2021, eight BBE boys teams have made the state tournament. Those experiences are something the players haven't taken for granted.
"My dad says we'll never really understand it until we're done," Hanson said. "The amazing memories we're getting to make right now, we seem to make it to state in every sport. That's pretty fun to do that with a bunch of guys."
Looking to Hanson, Cebulla and Dingmann to his right in the post-game press conference, Moscho acknowledged the standard this crop of athletes has set for the Jaguars.
"As coaches, you can do so much, but these guys made the dedication and the commitment to be in the weight room," Moscho said. "They're a big part of what's to come."