St. Thomas Academy came into week eight of the regular season averaging nearly 38 points per game. Four defensive shutouts, including wins over state tournament teams Mahtomedi and Coon Rapids.
Junior running back Danny McFadden entered the contest for the Cadets rushing for nearly 900 yards.
All Chaska did on MEA Wednesday was blank St. Thomas Academy 20-0. The game was over by 9 p.m., the Hawks defense holding the Cadets to just 32 total plays and 76 total yards.
McFadden amounted just 38 yards on the ground on 10 rushes. Quarterback Baker Reding was just 2-for-11 passing for 10 yards.
Total domination for the Chaska defense; the Hawks offense coming alive with a pair of second-half scores.
Walking out of the stadium that evening, second-year head coach Dan O'Brien said maybe it was a good thing to lose. The former Hamline University Athletic Director and Director of Football Operations at the University of Minnesota, said it again following a 53-16 Class 5A State semifinal win on Nov. 16.
St. Thomas Academy having outscored 151-23 in four games since the loss to Chaska. McFadden has reached the end zone nine times, totaling 500 yards.
"You hate to ever say a loss was a good thing, but in that particular case, it helped us a little bit," O’Brien said. "We were able to refocus and go back to drawing board."
How different will the second match-up at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 30 in the Prep Bowl at U.S. Bank Stadium be stands to be seen.
Twelve games in, one remaining, Chaska's defensive unit goes down as one of the best, if not the best, in program history.
The numbers are impressive.
Chaska has allowed first-half points just twice (Bloomington Jefferson, Robbinsdale Armstrong).
Chaska has allowed 100-plus rushing yards just three times (Robbinsdale Armstrong, Waconia, Coon Rapids).
Chaska has shutout five opponents (St. Louis Park, Apple Valley, Waconia, St. Thomas Academy, Mankato West).
Chaska has not allowed a point in the first three quarters eight times (add Orono, Waconia and Mahtomedi).
On the other side of the ball, St. Thomas Academy has been just as good defensively, shutting out No. 1 Owatonna in the state quarterfinals.
The Cadets allowed just 367 rushing yards and three touchdowns in eight regular season games. Two of those scores and 239 yards of that total came against Chaska.
Owatonna mustered just 15 rushing yards on 23 carries, while Elk River ran the ball on 52 of 54 plays for 192 yards. Sixty-three of that total came in the fourth quarter in a running clock drive.
Certainly, defense will play a big part in who comes away with a state championship.
"It's really undescribable. You walk out of the tunnel and you look up and your jaw just kind of drops. You can't explain it. You just have to soak it all up and enjoy the moment," Chaska senior end/running back Stevo Klotz said of playing at U.S. Bank Stadium.