The Shakopee football team didn't need to put the ball in the air too much to open the Class 6A playoffs.

Instead, the Sabers stayed on the ground rushing for 506 yards in a 50-21 home win over Park Oct. 29. Shakopee didn't even have a 100-yard rusher.

The Sabers had four ball carries with 60 or more yards and six different players score a rushing touchdown. Junior Jaden Hellerud led the way with 17 carries for 95 yards and two scores.

Shakopee (7-2) will take on Blaine (5-4) at home in the second round of the playoffs Nov. 5 at 7 p.m. The winner will face the winner of Lakeville South (9-0) and Anoka (6-3) in the state quarterfinals at Stillwater High School Nov. 12.

The Sabers are seeking their third straight berth. The team lost in the state quarterfinals in 2019, falling 9-7 to Lakeville North.

There was no state tournament last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the Sabers would have qualified after winning their first two Class 6A playoff games over Eagan and Champlin Park.

Before 2019, the last time Shakopee made the state field was in 1981.

In beating Park, the Sabers led 14-0 after the first quarter and took a 35-0 lead into the break. Shakopee led 44-0 midway through the third quarter after getting a safety and a 9-yard touchdown run from junior Caden Lang, which was his only carry of the game.

Hellerud had touchdowns runs of 1 and 2 yards in the first half for the Sabers, his 13th and 14th scores of the season. He also went over 1,000 yards in the win. He's got 1,159 yards rushing on the season.

Senior Yonis Mohamud had a 22-yard scoring run in the first quarter for Shakopee, his only carry of the game. Senior Elijah Sandridge had a 9-yard scoring run in the second quarter, while senior Nick Katona took a pitch 61 yards for a score with 1:11 left to play before the break.

Katona didn't catch any passes in the game, but he went into it leading the team with 12 catches for 276 yards and seven scores through the air.

Junior Ari Gaiters capped off the scoring for the Sabers with a 34-yard scoring run with 43 seconds left to play in the third quarter. He finished the game with four carries for 78 yards.

Senior Chandler Ross, Jr. didn't get into the end zone, but he had five carries for 79 yards, while junior Brandon Johnson had 43 yards on five rushes. Wearing No. 70, junior Ethan Vanh even had a carry that went for 34 yards.

Sophomore quarterback Leyton Kerns had 28 yards on the ground and completed 2 of 7 passes for 53 yards. Senior Sam West had one catch for 28 yards, while senior Jonathan Wamsley had one grab for 25 yards.

Junior Hunter Grommesch was all over the field on defense for Shakopee with a team-best 23 tackles. Junior Jacob Ruud and senior Aaron Lee each had six tackles.

Katona and senior Owen Diede both had five tackles. Diede also forced a fumble, while junior Termaine Fulton Jr. had an interception.

Senior Owen Forsythe went 6 for 6 on extra points for the Sabers.

Tom Schardin covers sports for Savage and Prior Lake. He is dependable, sarcastic and always joking around. Tom enjoys running and swimming and is often busy coaching his two kids' sports teams.

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