Win sends Rebels to Wayzata for sixth straight year

Michael Sales runs for 204 yards and 3 TD’s in victory over Centennial

Champlin Park defensive lineman Zach Witt swallows up Centennial running back Michael Diggins during the Rebels 35-27 playoff victory Oct. 26. The Rebels will head to Wayzata this week. (Photo by Nick Clark – Sun Newspapers)

Champlin Park defensive lineman Zach Witt swallows up Centennial running back Michael Diggins during the Rebels 35-27 playoff victory Oct. 26. The Rebels will head to Wayzata this week. (Photo by Nick Clark – Sun Newspapers)

It has been an annual Halloween house of horrors for the Champlin Park football team.

Wayzata, home to one of the biggest of big-school football powers, has turned into a cemetery for Rebel seasons in recent years.

In 2007, Champlin Park lost 23-21. In 2008, the final was 41-15. In 2009, the score was 21-7. Wayzata delivered the most lopsided defeat in a 42-0 shutout in 2010, and then last year, when the Trojans were rated No. 1 in the state, Champlin Park lost 21-14.

Each of those games was played within a week of Halloween, and in a salute to the holiday tactics, Champlin Park has watched its season die on each and every trip.

The Rebels will once again head to Wayzata this week, for a 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2 visit that will come with a trip to the Class 6A state tournament on the line.

And with their collective memory firmly intact, the purpose is of one goal.

“We definitely owe them,” said senior quarterback Trevor Garrison, who started last year’s 21-14 defeat in Wayzata. “Our plan is to go there and win.”

Confidence won’t be an issue, which was evident in the route Champlin Park used to advance into this week’s showdown.

The Rebels scored five touchdowns to beat Centennial 35-27 in the Section 5 quarterfinals Oct. 26.

Michael Sales, who hurt his ankle midway through the third quarter, still managed to rush for 204 yards and three touchdowns.

Garrison had 185 yards of total offense and two touchdowns – one on the ground and another through the air – and Bryce Marquardt finished with 108 yard receiving on five catches, including a victory clinching 67-yard dagger in the fourth quarter.

They were tested, to be sure. It was only a month ago when the Rebels needed a late touchdown pass from Garrison to beat Centennial on the road.

But even despite spotting the Cougars an early 7-0 lead, the tone was different than the first meeting.

The Rebels answered Centennial’s opening drive touchdown with two of their own in the first half – both on short runs from Sales – to go up 14-7 at the half.

Sales scored again early in the third to make it 21-7, and then after Centennial cut the margin to a single score, Garrison punched his way in from 2-yards out to make it a 28-14 lead.

Centennial once again shaved the tally to seven points, but on the very next play after that Cougar score, Garrison went up top to Marquardt from 67-yards out to end any late tension.

“I know Bryce can burn anyone, so when that play call came in, I kind of figured it might be a big one,” said Garrison. “I put a good ball on him, and he did the rest.”

Now comes the real test, as the team prepares to head to Wayzata one more time.

After the Centennial win, Garrison talked about how a good week of practice was a must, and of the excitement such a challenge should bring.

Head coach Mike Korton spoke of the importance of sustaining drives against the Trojan defense, and how turnovers will likely dictate the outcome.

The truth is, all of those sentiments will play a role. As will the stakes, as Champlin Park tries to turn the tables and get its shot in the Class 6A state tournament.

“We are going to be playing in November now, and you always want to be playing in November,” Korton said. “We want to keep this going as long as we can. It doesn’t matter who we are playing this week, because you have to play them all, so let’s go play that one and see if we can play again the next week.”

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