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Photo courtesy of Ken Forner  

Deacon Clayton Forner, of Chaska, stops for a photograph in Rome, where he’s studying to become a priest.

Bowl bound

The Metrodome opened in downtown Minneapolis in 1982, thus beginning a run of 32 seasons of the Prep Bowl.

On the same plot of land now stands U.S. Bank Stadium where Prep Bowl XXXVIII will be played Nov. 29-30. A five-class system during its first year in 1972, now there are seven championships spanning two days.

And, for the first time in the modern-era Prep Bowl, Chaska will play for the title in football.

The Hawks, ranked No. 3 in the final state rankings in Class 5A, beat Coon Rapids 34-14 in the semifinals Nov. 15. Chaska is now 11-1.

“It’s kind of crazy. It hasn’t sunk in yet. Yeah, a very memorable, crazy experience,” said Chaska senior Stevo Klotz, in a post-game press conference.

The Hawks, making their fourth state tournament appearance, the third in seven years, are in the state finals for the second time. Chaska lost 26-7 to Alexandria in the Class A finals in 1974. The game was played outdoors at Parade Stadium in Minneapolis.

This time the championship remains indoors at the home of the Minnesota Vikings. The final game of the football season at 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30.

Chaska will face a familiar opponent in seventh-ranked St. Thomas Academy (11-1). The Hawks handed the Cadets their only loss, 20-0, in week eight of the regular season.

That was then, this is now.

All eyes in the city of Chaska will be on the Hawks.

“We have been very fortunate. We have a great school, a great group of leaders, and a great community that gives us a lot of support,” said Chaska Head Coach Bryan Dahl.

“It’s special. We knew we had a good group of athletes and even better kids and this could be a special year. These kids have responded to everything we’ve challenged them with. They worked like crazy. It’s going to be an awesome experience. We’ve enjoyed playing here.”