Mankato West caps off unparalleled season with Class 5A state title

Published: Nov. 27, 2021 at 10:58 PM CST
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MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (KEYC) - Ranked first in Class AAAAA all season long, the Mankato West football team kept the dominance alive by defeating Mahtomedi 24-10 in the Prep Bowl to capture a program-fifth state championship.

The (13-0) Scarlets opened up scoring early in the first when senior linebacker Ryan Haley returned a 34-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown. West senior tight end, outside linebacker Brady Haugum had a big game finishing with one touchdown, one sack and four total tackles.

The Scarlets showcased their depth throughout the game, senior Gibson Blackstad scored his first touchdown of the year. Blackstad also blocked a field-goal attempt in the 2nd quarter.

Mankato West becomes the first team in program history to win a state title with an undefeated record.

“Going 13-0 and earning every game and that’s what we pushed for. We pushed to earn every game and this game we had to earn it, that was a good football team. They pushed us, we had to make some big plays, some of the plays were good, some were ugly, some were average, but you know what we persevered and we pushed through it. It’s a testament to the four guys up here that made big plays, but there’s about 25 other kids out there that earned this win,” head coach of the Mankato West football team J.J. Helget said.

“All of us our buddies. Especially this senior group, we’ve all been close to each other the whole time. Most of the time, the kids that don’t always get an opportunity to play on Friday nights and Saturday evenings, they want to dip out and they want to quit, but a lot of the guys stuck with it, they gave us a lot of good looks on scout team and we were able to hang out with each other, bond with each other and I think that really helped us in the long run,” Scarlet senior quarterback Zander Dittbenner added.

“It means a lot, that’s al we’ve been working for, this off season, we knew that was a goal, we knew anything less than that was a failure, so to come out and do that and seal our legacy like that is something that you can’t take away from us,” top-10 Mr. Football finalist Haley said.

“All that, all the years of just practicing, lifting, all that just feels like a pay off. It’s just nice, the happy ending of everything. It’s just awesome,” West senior defensive end Gibson Blackstad said.

Mankato West is now a perfect 19-0 since Oct. 9 of 2020.

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