Blooming Prairie, Faribault B.A. meet again

Blooming Prairie strikes fear into most teams.

The Blossoms have one the strongest Class A football programs in the state. They're currently unbeaten (10-0) and ranked third overall.

Faribault Bethlehem Academy (7-3) is not most teams. Mention the unbeaten Blossoms, FBA's opponent in Friday night's Section 1A championship, and the Cardinals are overcome with eagerness, not anxiety.

These Gopher Conference teams know each other well. They've already met once this season, with Blooming Prairie winning 24-7. That was despite FBA rolling up 245 yards on the ground.

They also met in the Section 1A final last year. There was no deception there. The Cardinals rolled, 56-13.


FBA graduated 10 starters from that team, which made it to the state title game before falling to Mahnomen.

But here it is, once again looking like one of the better teams in the state.

And Blooming Prairie? Well, this is among the top teams that Chad Gimbel has ever coached. He's directed plenty of excellent ones, with Blooming Prairie having made it to state three of the last five years.

"We know (Blooming Prairie) well, and they know us well," FBA coach Scott Hanson said. "The big thing about it is, we were not as healthy the first time we played them as we are now. We have tremendous respect for Blooming Prairie and their program. But us being healthy now, that gives us confidence."

Better health is what Gimbel wishes his team had right now. His top offensive and defensive lineman, Brett Wacek, has missed the team's last seven games with an injury. He's not expected to play in Friday's 8 p.m. game at Rochester Regional Sports Stadium, either.

Still, his absence has not stopped Blooming Prairie from blasting nearly every opponent its faced this season. It's done it behind not only the prolific quarterback play of John Rumpza (a massive 2,589 yards passing), but also behind a stifling defense.

Blooming Prairie has allowed more than seven points just three times this season. It's coming off a 29-0 shutout of Fillmore Central.

FBA does its damage with a balanced running attack. Christian Von Ruden has rushed for 638 yards in just eight games, Drew Glenzinski for 654 yards overall and Isaiah Brogden for 576 yards.

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