Prep Bowl: Barnesville tops Chatfield for first 2A football state championship
In 2018, Barnesville was the Class AA runner-up to longstanding power, Caledonia. At that time, middle-school football players from Barnesville experienced the thrill of watching the Prep Bowl from the stands or sideline of U.S. Bank Stadium. Dreams of a return to a championship game fueled those players in hopes of ending their prep careers on a high note.
Fast forward five seasons and it was mission accomplished.
The Trojans completed a season of dominance with a 35-20 victory over Chatfield in the Class AA championship on Friday, Dec. 2 at U.S. Bank Stadium. Senior tight end Tate Inniger, an imposing figure at 6-foot-3 and 265 pounds, scored four touchdowns to propel Barnesville (13-0) to its first-ever state championship in three title-game appearances. Barnesville rushed for 235 yards and perfectly-timed passing accounted for three touchdowns as the Trojans derailed Chatfield (12-1) from repeating as the Class AA champion. In 2021, Chatfield defeated Barnesville 22-18 in the semifinal en route to its championship.
Inniger had three receptions, all for touchdowns. For good measure, he also capped the Trojans’ victory on a 1-yard run with 4 minutes, 14 seconds left in regulation. He even got involved in the passing game with a completion of 12 yards. Afterward, he was recognized with the Wells Fargo Most Valuable Teammate Award, an honor that goes to a player displays excellence in sportsmanship and leadership.
Barnesville junior quarterback Zach Bredman directed the offensive attack, rushing for 53 yards and completing 4 of 5 passes for 57 yards. Three of those four pass completions were to Inniger. Barnesville stretched its lead to 29-14 on Bredman’s third touchdown pass to Inniger. This one came on a 9-yard strike with 1:07 left in the third quarter.
Chatfield answered on a 1-yard run by senior running back Sam Backer that drew the Gophers to within 29-20 with 9:92 left. That just set the stage for Inniger’s final TD.
Barnesville built a 23-14 halftime advantage, in part behind two touchdown passes from junior Zachary Bredman to senior tight end Tate Inniger. The second was a 28-yard connection with 1:13 left in the second quarter that gave the Trojans a 23-8 lead.
But Chatfield pulled to within nine just more than a minute later on a 17-yard run by senior quarterback Sam Backer, but the Gophers could inch no closer as the two-point conversion attempt fell inches short.
Backer led the way for Chatfield in the first half, rushing for 95 yards on 15 carries. He also completed 5 of 10 passes for 84 yards and a touchdown, but was intercepted twice. He finished with 182 yards rushing on 28 carries. While he threw for a touchdown, he was also intercepted four times.
Senior fullback John Roller paced the Trojans running game in the first half with 56 yards and finished with 103.
The 20 points were the most that Barnesville had surrendered to any opponent during the 2022 season. Entering the Prep Bowl, the Trojans’ defense ranked among the stingiest in Minnesota in surrendering an average of about four points per game.