AJ LaPanta and Charlie Miller are almost inseparable off the field. On the field, the best friends have teamed to have a terrific playoff run.
LaPanta threw for 219 yards and three touchdowns — two to Miller — as Totino-Grace beat Owatonna 49-21 Saturday for the Class 5A Championship at the Prep Bowl.
It's the seventh title in 10 years for the private school in suburban Fridley.
"It never gets old," coach Jeff Ferguson said.
"We got tradition here and you've got to uphold the tradition," LaPanta added. "It's fun to expect to win."
Kez Flomo had 97 rushing yards and a touchdown for the top-ranked Eagles (13-0). Kai Barber had two rushing scores.
"We're not a team of one person. We're all brothers that come together for a victory, and we're state champions," Miller said.
Colton Schock threw for 144 yards and one touchdown for the third-ranked Huskies (12-1).
The game was tied at 14 in the final minute of the first half when LaPanta hooked up with Miller on a 49-yard pattern to the sideline. Miller caught the ball at about the 30, and after the defender fell down, sprinted untouched the rest of the way.
Midway through the third quarter, LaPanta threw a perfect spiral that Miller caught over his shoulder in stride near the Owatonna 35. Miller outraced a defender to the end zone and a 28-14 lead.
"I trust he's going to be where he's supposed to be, he trusts me and that shows on the football field," LaPanta said.
The duo also combined for two scores in a 23-0 semifinal win over Bemidji.
"Growing up in sixth, seventh, eighth grades we were all playing on teams together. To do this is awesome. There's no better feeling," said Miller, who finished with three receptions for 145 yards. However, he also said it is bittersweet because it's the last high school game they'll play together.
After a three-and-out by the Huskies in the third quarter, Flomo scored on a 43-yard run to make it 35-14. Barber later scored from 11 yards out after an Owatonna fumble.
The Eagles had 155 yards in the quarter; Owatonna 27. For the game, Totino-Grace had a 367-218 advantage.
"They're a very good team with a tough defense; they're very fast and they're really big," Schock said. "They played a phenomenal game. We gave it our all the whole time; it just happened that we fell short."
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Lance Benick caught a 32-yard pass from LaPanta for a 7-0 lead, but the Huskies answered right back with a 22-yard touchdown reception by Mason Bloomquist.
Mason Kaliszewski scored from 4 yards out early in the second quarter, but, after LaPanta was sacked and fumbled deep in his own end, Schock snuck in from a yard away.