BLOOMING PRAIRIE — Friday night's 49-6 win over Randolph in the Section 1A football championship was bittersweet for Blooming Prairie.
It was sweet because the Blossoms won the section title for the third straight year and improved their winning streak to 18 straight games. But it was bitter because due to COVID-19, the season is now shut down and the Blossoms will not have a chance to defend their Class A state title.
“It’s a weird feeling knowing that you can’t go on, but at least we ended on a win,” Blooming Prairie junior quarterback Drew Kittelson said.
Even in victory, some of the Blossoms players took the season finale hard.
“It really sucks. Right now, all the feelings are running through your head,” Blossoms senior wide receiver/linebacker Mitchell Fiebiger said. “You just kind of hope Monday that you go back to (watching) film, but …”
Blossoms coach Chad Gimbel praised his team for overcoming adversity, but he admitted it was tough on the team not being able to advance, especially the seniors.
“How often do you see the kids win a section championship and they're in tears? What do you say to them?” Gimbel said. ”I’ve had more uncertainty this year on how to handle things than I’ve ever had."
On the field, the Blossoms were in control the whole way on Friday. Kittelson threw four touchdown passes and the top-seeded Blossoms (5-0) scored on their first four possessions against No. 3 Randolph (4-4).
“It’s a great feeling,” Kittelson said. “We can say that we’re reigning state champions and we had three (straight) section champions. And it’s great to get the (final) win on our home field. Most seniors can’t say that.”
Kittleson threw two touchdown passes before Randolph ran a single offensive play. The Blossoms scored on the game's opening drive and then recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff. That resulted in two touchdowns in less than a minute.
“We did what we set out to do," Gimbel said. "That is grow as a team, get better each game, each practice, and remain undefeated,”
Kittleson finished 11-for-21 for 138 yards. He threw two touchdown passes each to Fiebiger and Bradley Simon.
Blooming Prairie junior running back Tyler Archer rushed for 116 yards and a pair of touchdowns, both in the first half. They came on runs of 13 and 63 yards. The Blossoms finished with 328 yards of offense.
“I think we just put it all in for this last game as much as we could,” Fiebiger said.
Blooming Prairie's defense forced four turnovers and held Randolph to 166 yards, with 77 of those coming on a Randolph touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. Kittelson and Colin Jordison both had interceptions for the Blossoms.
“We always have a strong defense and just being part of the DB (defensive backs) program, we always think that defense comes first," Kittelson said. "You win on defense and you’re going to execute on offense.”
Blooming Prairie has now won 30 of its past 31 games, but the Blossoms will have to wait until next season in an attempt to stretch their 18-game winning streak.
“It’s definitely a blessing to have a last game during the COVID season, but it's tough coming to an end,” Fiebiger said.
“There are no words for it, but there’s going to be bigger obstacles these kids are going to face in life, too,” Gimbel said. “And this is preparing them for that, to help them grow for that and to understand that.”
Blooming Prairie 49, Randolph 6
Randolph 0 0 0 6 — 6
Blooming Prairie 21 7 7 14 — 49
BP — Bradley Simon 21 pass from Drew Kittelson (Carson Brennecke kick), 8:07.
BP — Mitchell Fiebiger 15 pass from Kittelson (Brennecke kick), 7:13.
BP — Tyler Archer 13 (Brennecke kick), 1:58.
BP — Tyler Archer 63 (Brennecke kick), 8:57.
BP — Simon 2 pass from Kittelson (Brennecke kick), 6:45.
BP — Mitchell Fiebiger 36 pass from Kittelson (Brennecke kick), 10:56.
Rand — Kaven Blonigen 77 pass from Jacob Weckop (run failed), 7:43.
BP — Brennecke 7 run (Brennecke kick), 1:51.
First downs 8 16
Total net yards 166 328
Rushes-yards 28-70 26-190
Passing yards 96 138
Pass att.-comp.-int. 4-13-2 11-21-1
Fumbles-lost 3-2 0-0
Punts-Ave. 4-35.3 1-31.0
Penalties-yards 4-28 4-50
Randolph — Kaven Blonigen 14-38, Mack Swanson 5-29, Brandon Gerster 4-21, Jackob Weckop 5-(-18). Blooming Prairie — Tyler Archer 11-116, Carson Brennecke 5-36, Cade Christianson 1-15, Drew Kittelson 7-14, Bradley Simon 1-2.
Randolph — Jackob Weckop 4-13, 96 yards, 1 TD, 2 int. Blooming Prairie — Drew Kittleson 11-21, 138 yards, 4 TD, 1 int.
Randolph — Kaven Blonigen 2-77, Tyson Cooreman 2-19. Blooming Prairie — Mitchell Fiebiger 6-87, Bradley Simon 3-34, Tyler Archer 1-9, Alex Piller 1-8.