Owatonna Vs St. Thomas Academy: Elite Runners Vs Strong Defenses
A strong running back. The ability to throw the football if needed. A solid, stingy defense. Those short points describe both Owatonna and St. Thomas Academy who will meet in the Class 5A Prep Bowl championship game at 4 pm Saturday at US Bank Stadium. Pregame coverage begins by 3:30 pm on Kat Kountry 105FM and the Kat Kountry app.
Owatonna's Jason Williamson is smashing records and has 2,824 yards on the season. He could eclipse 7,000 yards for his career during this game. First-year Cadets' head coach Dan O'Brien says, "We know if we're going to have any success at all on Saturday night, that we have to find a way to at least semi-contain Williamson. I don't think anybody stops him."
Brendan McFadden is chewing up yardage as well. He has 1,662 yards and 36 touchdowns for the unbeaten Cadets. O'Brien says, "He follows his blockers really well. He has good vision. Ge gets up into the hole and can jump cut...He's real powerful through his hips...it usually takes more than one person to bring him down."
Owatonna coach Jeff Williams says STA is not as big as some of the teams the Huskies have played, "It's not smash-mouth football. There's a lot of subtlety to their blocking schemes and what they try to do to you up front. They're very well coached...The kids are extremely disciplined and it's going to be a huge challenge for us."
OHS defensive coordinator Marc Achterkirch said the Cadets are "very big and physical" and feature a power running game with McFadden, "All-Metro running back, really talented extremely difficult to tackle...A well-rounded team, but more of a power running game."
Each team's defense has been stout all year, especially against the run. OHS allows about 85 yards per game on the ground. The Cadets have held teams to an average of about 55 yards per game rushing.
Williams also respects St. Thomas Academy's ability to throw the ball, saying they can use play-action or pass out of a drop-back formation.
McFadden ran for 211 yards and three touchdowns in the semifinals and has accounted for about 40 percent of his team's offense. Williamson was limited to 199 yards in the semifinals, but still scored five touchdowns and has been responsible for about 55-percent of the Huskies' offense.
OHS is the defending champion and also won the title in 2013 in addition to three runner-up finishes. STA won the state crown in 1975 and has three second place finishes since.
While O'Brien is in his first year with the Cadets, he has a long history as a coach including at Bemidji, the team St. Thomas Academy beat last week. He also has coached at the University of Minnesota, Concordia (St. Paul) and Hamline University.
Owatonna fans are invited to a welcome home Saturday night at approximately 9 pm at the OHS auditorium.