One of Centennial’s best football seasons came to an end when the Cougars ran into unbeaten, No. 1 ranked Wayzata in the state quarterfinals Friday evening.
The Trojans (10-0) and their outstanding ballcarrier Christian Vassar fended off Centennial 38-21 at Chanhassen. The No. 7 ranked Cougars finished 8-3 with two playoff wins.
Centennial, stout on defense all season despite a host of injuries, could not contain Vassar, who slashed for 237 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries. The Trojans also scored twice on passes.
Noah Larson was Centennial’s beat weapon against the Trojan defense, one of the most rugged in the state. Larson scored on runs of 44 and 20 yards and totaled 86 yards in 15 carries.
Two first-half fumbles were costly for Centennial in its upset bid, both by Connor Zulk in the last game of an exceptional two-year career at quarterback.
After Larson’s 44-yard TD on an option pitch tied the score 7-7, the Cougars recovered an onside kick, but Zulk lost the ball two plays later.
While trailing 17-14 late in the half, the Cougars reached the Trojan 39. Wayzata’s Loshaika Roques tackled Zulk from behind, shaking the ball loose. Drew Berkland scooped up the ball and dashed 56 yards for a touchdown, giving Wayzata a 24-14 halftime lead.
Zulk completed seven of 10 passes for 64 yards. He hit Tim O’Neill for a four-yard touchdown, capping a drive that gave them a 14-10 lead.
With big-play receiver Carter Anderson on crutches from a foot injury the previous game, O’Neill caught three for 14 yards, Mason Lindsay one for 22 yards and Larson two for 26.
Zulk, normally as dangerous running the ball as passing, could not find much space against Wayzata. The Trojans limited Zulk to 14 net yards in 17 attempts, and held Austin Wlaschin to 34 yards in 15 totes.
Vassar scored on runs of 47 and two yards for Wayzata, pushing his season totals to 1,528 yards and 18 touchdowns. Trojan quarterback Thomas Schmidt hit seven of 12 passes for 116 yards with TD’s to Luke Bodine (six yards) and Daeshawn Bush (10 yards).