Might Kasson-Mantorville's heaviest lifting be done?

Well, according to rankings that's true, the KoMets having disposed of No. 1 Becker in stunning style in the Class AAAA state football tournament semifinals this past Thursday..

But in taking on Hutchinson at 4 p.m. Friday at U.S Bank Stadium in the Prep Bowl final, No. 7-ranked K-M won't be dealing with some lightweight. The Tigers are ranked second in the state and take anything but a dainty approach.

K-M coach Joel Swanson has seen them. They come right at their opponents.

All season, 11-1 Hutchinson has done it with battering success, including 6-foot, 190-pound Levi Teetzel having rushed for 1,519 yards.

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"They are a power team," Swanson said. "They like to take the ball right at you. There aren't many punts from them in the films I've watched."

Bet on one thing: Kasson-Mantorville doesn't care what kind of approach Hutchinson takes.

RELATED: Wow! Kasson-Mantorville rallies to stun No. 1 Becker in state semifinals

The KoMets have pretty much seen and been through it all this season, including bouncing back from a 17-3 deficit against a diverse and talented Becker team in the state semifinals.

That ended nicely in K-M's favor, the KoMets sprinting away a 24-20 winner.

It landed them in the state championship game for the first time in school history.

"We've created together some of the best memories we'll ever have," K-M senior center/linebacker Kellen Wilke said. "I can't imagine doing this with anyone but these guys. We've all bought in. Everyone has played unselfishly all season."

Season best

They've also played incredibly well, and likely never better than right now.

The KoMets endured and learned from a season of serious tests. They enter the state championship game 9-3, the losses to rugged teams Mankato East, Stewartville and Owatonna, none of those setbacks by more than seven points. There was also a narrow win in that span, 42-41 over Faribault.

All of that seemed to have prepared them for what happened in the state semifinals against top-ranked Becker. The KoMets trailed 17-3 entering the fourth quarter, yet refused to give up, as is their custom. Five times this season, they've trailed by more than two touchdowns, only to seriously rally and be in the thick of it at the end.

Two of those turned into wins, including that 24-20 stunner over Becker in which Gavin Giesler turned in a game-changing interception to end the third quarter, and then quarterback/punt returner Matthew Donovan went a long ways toward carrying the KoMets the rest of the way.

Kasson-Mantorville’s Matthew Donovan (4) is taken down during a Class AAAA State Football Semifinal game against Becker Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin
Kasson-Mantorville’s Matthew Donovan (4) is taken down during a Class AAAA State Football Semifinal game against Becker Thursday, Nov. 18, 2021, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

Never this season had K-M put itself in a better position to do something head-turning than in that game. The last month, the focus for this team has gone to a new level.

"Our practices have just been different lately," said Swanson, whose team returned just three defensive starters from last year's Section 1AAAA championship team. "We had so many injuries early in the season and we had guys playing junior varsity games. It's tough trying to run a practice with 15-16 guys. But once all of that was over, our (reserves) have really stepped up and given us a great look. Their impact is truly felt. The last four weeks of practices have been the best we've had all year. It’s just maintained itself right through the playoffs."

Just like against Becker, Swanson knows that his team is going to need to be flexible and ultra-alert as it takes on Hutchinson.

Yes, the Tigers are a "smash-mouth" team, but they smash with a variety of looks. And then they'll suddenly tear an opponent's heart out with a long pass.

"They lull you to sleep with 4 yards, 8 yards, 3 yards, 5 yards; and then they hit you with a 40-yard touchdown pass to one of their tight ends," Swanson said. "We have to be ready to make adjustments. With (Hutchinson), if someone takes this away from them, then they know what to do next."

It's Swanson's feeling that his team is the same way. The KoMets have made a season out of adjusting.

They can't wait to be tested one more time, this time for a state championship.