The opening of the Metrodome in 1982 began a new-era of the Minnesota State High School Football Championship, the name Prep Bowl taking shape.
In total, 33 Prep Bowls were held at the Metrodome, including the 2014 championships a month before its collapse and subsequent demolition. TCF Bank Stadium on the campus of the University of Minnesota hosted the Prep Bowl outdoors in 2015 and 2016.
The Prep Bowl returned indoors in 2017 at U.S. Bank Stadium, now in its third year.
Chaska, a Class 5A finalist, is playing in the program's second state championship and fourth state tournament appearance. The Hawks lost in the semifinals in 2013 and quarterfinals in 2018.
The 1974 team, one of four to gain entry into the Class A Tournament, the second-largest grouping, fell to Alexandria 26-7.
Vern Steinmetz recalled in 2013 that wonderful 1974 Chaska football season. "Those guys were a true team. They were friends and they would hang out with each other. We put the right people in the right places. We had some skilled players that really were special,” Steinmetz, the winningest coach in Hawks history with a combined record of 140-90-2 in 26 years as head coach.
Unlike now where all teams qualify for the playoffs, back then, only four teams from each class were selected via computer rankings to compete in the post-season in the state tournament.
In 1974 it was Chaska, Fridley Grace, Moorhead, and Alexandria. The Hawks played one of its best games of the season in the state semifinals, scoring the first 20 points in a 20-12 win over Fridley Grace, now Totino-Grace.
Chaska, though, fell in the season finale in the championship game to Alexandria, a team that shutout seven opponents along the way. The Hawks trailed 26-0 before a touchdown from Mike Tschimperle to Bob Poppitz from 10 yards out with 12 seconds remaining to negate the shutout.
"The field was horrible. It was frozen solid," said Steinmetz of Parade Stadium. "It was a horrible way to play a championship. There wasn’t grass between the hash marks with so many games having been played there. Guys were slipping and sliding around."
Chaska finished the 1974 campaign with a 10-2 record.
DID YOU KNOW?
- Eden Prairie played in the state championship in seven of 10 years in the current decade, winning the title in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2017.
- Caledonia is the four-time Class 2A state champions, 10 times total. The Warriors have won 67 straight games led by quarterbacks Owen King and now his younger brother Noah King.
In addition to Caledonia, other teams looking to defend state titles from 2018 are BOLD (Bird Island-Olivia-Lake Lillian) in Class 1A and SMB (St. Paul Academy-Minnehaha Academy-Blake School) in Class 4A. Nine-man finalist Mountain Lake and 5A finalist St. Thomas Academy were runner-up last season.
- From 1972 to 1996, the Minnesota State High School League sponsored five classes (9-man, C, B, A, AA). The addition of a sixth class was added in 1997 with a seven-class system starting in 2012.
A look back at the last decade of the Prep Bowl:
6A Lakeville North over Eden Prairie 28-21; 5A Owatonna over St. Thomas Academy 14-3; 4A SMB over Willmar 44-18; 3A Rochester Lourdes over Fairmont 24-7; 2A Caledonia over Barnesville, 21-0; 1A BOLD over Mahnomen/Waubun 22-21; 9-Man Spring Grove over Mountain Lake Area 40-18
6A Eden Prairie over Minnetonka 38-17; 5A Owatonna over Elk River 63-26; 4A Academy of Holy Angels over Cloquet 14-0; 3A Pierz over St. Croix Lutheran 34-21; 2A Caledonia over Pipestone Area 57-6; 1A Minneota over Wabasso 28-13; 9-Man Spring Grove over Nevis 32-0
6A Totino Grace over Eden Prairie 28-20; 5A Elk River over Spring Lake Park 42-14; 4A Benilde-St. Margaret over Winona 31-28; 3A Rochester Lourdes over St. Croix Lutheran 42-35; 2A Caledonia over Pipestone Area 40-0; 1A Minneota over Minneapolis North 35-18; 9-Man Grand Meadow over Cleveland/Immanuel 41-21
6A Osseo over East Ridge 14-13; 5A St. Michael-Albertville over St. Thomas Academy 17-14; 4A Becker over South St. Paul 35-14; 3A Pierz over Jackson Co. Central 36-8; 2A Caledonia over Eden Valley-Watkins 40-0; 1A Minneapolis North over Rushford-Peterson 35-18; 9-Man Grand Meadow over Underwood 34-20
6A Eden Prairie over Totino Grace 28-27; 5A Mankato West over Simley 42-19; 4A Becker over DeLaSalle 24-6; 3A Rochester Lourdes over New London Spicer 35-14; 2A Holdingford over BOLD 20-18 (2OT); 1A Minneota over Dawson-Boyd 28 -14; 9-Man Grand Meadow over Edgerton-Ellsworth 48-0
6A Eden Prairie over Rosemount 28-7; 5A Owatonna over Brainerd 24-0; 4A Hutchinson over Academy of Holy Angels 49-7; 3A St. Croix Lutheran over New London-Spicer 48-44; 2A Chatfield over Minneota/Lincoln High 17-7; 1A Mahnomen over Dawson-Boyd 46-13; 9-Man Grand Meadow over Underwood 28-6
6A Eden Prairie over Lakevile North 28-7; 5A Totino-Grace over Owatonna 49-21; 4A Hutchinson over Holy Family Catholic 67-7; 3A Blue Earth over Rochester Lourdes 30-7; 2A Caledonia over Moose Lake/Willow River 25-22; 1A Mahnomen over Bethlehem Academy 20-14; 9-Man Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley over Grand Meadow 40-22
5A Eden Prairie over Wayzata 13-3; 4A Rocori over Bemidji 17-10; 3A St. Croix Lutheran over Fairmont 34-32; 2A Caledonia over Moose Lake/Willow River 27-0; 1A Dawson-Boyd over Mahnomen 35-20; 9-Man Edgerton/Ellsworth over Wheaton/Herman-Norcross 36-28
5A Wayzata over Rosemount 31-14; 4A Totino-Grace over Rogers 34-14; 3A Rochester Lourdes over Holy Family Catholic 41-13; 2A Caledonia over Triton 28-7; 1A New Ulm Cathedral over Barnesville 19-13; 9-Man Cromwell over Lanesboro 49-42