PREP FOOTBALL: Dragon déjà vu: Second in state

MINNEAPOLIS -- The outcome of Friday night's Class A state football championship looked all too familiar to Adrian's seniors. Minneota's offense scored the first six times it stepped on the field, Sam Derynck tossed four touchdown passes and the ...

Adrian: 2009 Class A Runners Up
Aaron Hagen/Daily Globe Adrian's football team poses after losing 42-21 in the Class A state championship to Minneota Friday at the Metrodome in Minneapolis.

MINNEAPOLIS -- The outcome of Friday night's Class A state football championship looked all too familiar to Adrian's seniors.

Minneota's offense scored the first six times it stepped on the field, Sam Derynck tossed four touchdown passes and the Vikings beat the Dragons for the second time this season, 42-21 -- and this time, it was for the Class A state championship.

The 21-point margin was the same as in the state final two years ago when Adrian lost to Goodhue, 28-7.

Dragons' quarterback Brett Nowotny was a sophomore then.

"I hope people don't look at the ending score and say, 'Holy cow, Adrian got blown out again,'" he said. 'This was a battle the entire game. It shows how much we improved over the year.'"


Nearly three months ago, Minneota beat the Dragons in the season opener for both teams, 43-13.

That game was over rather quickly.

Friday was a much better contest, although the Dragons still had no answer for Minneota's offense.

The Vikings won the yardage battle convincingly, outgaining Adrian 403-166.

"We didn't finish our tackles, we had them in positions of third and long and second and long and we still let them off the hook," Dragons head coach Randy Strand said. "It's tough to win football games if you don't make them punt, and we didn't make them punt."

In fact, the only way Adrian could stop their offense was to keep it from coming in.

Holding a 21-7 lead in the second quarter, Minneota forced the Dragons to punt. But Adam Diekmann's kick turned into a hot potato that return man Tony Noyes couldn't avoid. It bounced into his leg and Adrian's Dustin Polzine pounced on the live ball to gain possession right back and keep the Viking offense off the field.

Nowotny jammed his way into the end zone moments later on a three-yard quarterback keeper, and Adrian pulled to within seven.


But every time the Dragons cut the lead to one touchdown, Minneota had an answer.

After Nowotny scored, the Vikings marched right back down the field.

They capped a 9-play, 61-yard scoring drive when Derynck hooked up with Noyes for a 20-yard touchdown with 54 seconds left in the first half.

"Had we not given up that touchdown just before half, who knows? Give credit to Minneota, obviously they're 14-0 for a reason," Strand said.

Derynck completed all seven of his tosses in the first two quarters, and didn't throw an incomplete pass until four minutes remained in the third.

The touchdown pass to Noyes was his third of the game, and it put Minneota up by two scores as the teams headed to the locker room.

The Dragons came out roaring, though.

"When we came out that second half, I think that spoke a lot of our team's character when we put that drive together," Strand said.


Diekmann gathered in an over-the-shoulder, 21-yard toss from Nowotny to complete a 10-play, 59-yard march that opened the third quarter for Adrian.

"He was wide open, and I actually thought I overthrew him," Nowotny said of the play. "I thought it was going to go out of the back of the end zone. He made a heck of a grab, I know that."

But once again, Minneota answered.

The Vikings squeezed five minutes and 26 seconds out of the clock before tailback Brandon Anderson plowed in from one yard out.

After three quarters, Minneota was again up by two possessions, 35-21.

Minneota eventually forced a Dragon punt in the fourth, and Noyes' second 20-yard touchdown catch midway through the final period all but sealed the deal.

Derynck finished with 159 yards through the air, completing nine of his 11 passes.

"Their quarterback has got a good arm," Dragons defensive lineman Brendon Kopplow said. "We had them a couple times third-and-long, and they still made it. They're a really strong offensive team."


"They've just got so many weapons," linebacker Brandon Aggen added. "We thought we had them stopped, but they proved they could pass on us."

The Vikings went 7-for-10 on third-down conversions and 2-for-3 on fourth downs -- including a 25-yard touchdown pass from Derynck to Will Kurka on a fourth-and-10 that gave Minneota a 14-0 advantage in the first quarter.

"You've got to make the plays," Strand said. "Bottom line is, they did and we didn't."

Kopplow scored the Dragons' first touchdown when he bowled in on a four-yard run.

The senior led Adrian on the ground, carrying the ball 13 times for 56 yards.

Nowotny, meanwhile, completed two of his five passes for 55 yards and the score to Diekmann.

Adrian (11-3) finishes its 2009 campaign as the Class A runners-up, the second time in three years the Dragons have done so.

"What is there, 68 teams in Class A?" Strand asked. "We got to play 14 games, and only two teams can say that...we're one of them. Our kids deserve a lot of credit. We've got nothing to hang our heads about."


The Dragons also won't have to wait too long to get a shot at revenge. They'll open next season against Minneota, too.

"We get to see them right out of the block next year," Strand said. "These kids, that'll be the first thing they say next year when we step on to the practice field for two-a-days, that 'Hey, this is a game we want.' We'll play hard."

Adrian 7 7 7 0 # -- 21

Minneota 14 14 7 7 -- 42

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