Suggs leads SMB to win over Willmar in Class 4A Prep Bowl Championship

November 23, 2018 08:22 PM

SMB, a football co-op that combines students from St. Paul Academy, Minnehaha Academy and The Blake School, completed an amazing four-year journey by capturing the Class AAAA championship with a 44-18 victory over Willmar in the title game on Friday, Nov. 23 at U.S. Bank Stadium. 

Jalen Suggs, a junior quarterback and defensive back, was a standout on each side of the ball in accounting for five touchdowns in powering the Wolfpack (13-0), a team created when each of the schools was struggling with participation numbers. 

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Suggs completed 9 of 11 passes for 216 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for 67 yards and another score. For good measure, he returned an interception 97 yards for a touchdown that gave the Wolfpack a 31-12 lead about midway through the third quarter. His interception return is believed to be a Prep Bowl record, however, that statistic isn’t documented. The return is believed to rank eighth all-time in MSHSL history. Levi Hintermesiter of Brandon-Evansville had a 104-yard interception return in 2008 against Bertha-Hewitt.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, SMB extended its lead to 37-18 on a 76-yard touchdown strike from Suggs to junior tight end Kaden Johnson. Suggs hit Johnson in stride on the 3rd-and-24 play and he couldn’t be caught by two Willmar defenders. 

SMB built a 24-12 halftime lead when Suggs connected with Johnson on a 6-yard scoring play with 15 seconds left before intermission. It was a frenzied finish to the first half that completed a 12-play, 95-yard drive that took 4 minutes, 29 seconds off the clock. Earlier, Suggs scored on a 23-yard run that gave the Wolfpack a 17-6 advantage with less than a minute elapsed in the second quarter. 

Senior running back Siegel Howard rushed for 74 yards in the first half for SMB and scored a touchdown. Suggs completed all six of his passes in the first half for 108 yards. Howard finished with 104 rushing yards. 

Senior quarterback Drey Dirksen paced the Cardinals (12-1) on the ground and through the air. He rushed for 79 yards on 21 carries and completed 10 of 19 passes for 149 yards and two touchdowns. Dirksen also threw four interceptions. 

Willmar junior kick returner Ethan Roux set a Prep Bowl record with 161 return yards. That broke the old mark of 157 that was equaled during the 2017 Prep Bowl by Elk River’s Adam Nelson. In 1997, Tony Stoering of Waterville-Elysian-Morristown set the original mark of 157. 

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