No question -- Sting repeat as champs
The Minnesota Sting showed why it's the No. 1-ranked team in the nation and put itself in position for a shot at a national championship game with a 50-0 thrashing of Brainerd in the Minnesota Premier Football League championship game on Saturday at East Ridge High School in Woodbury.
In winning a second straight league championship, the Sting turned in big play after big play - including a 68-yard touchdown run from running back Darren Edwards and a 62-yard touchdown reception from Jauhem Byrd - to clinch its second consecutive Midwest Premier Football League title.
The Sting defeated Brainerd 27-0 last year and this year's title game proved even more dominant.
"We forgot about last year and we were ready for this year," Sting head coach Ronnie Gamble said. "The scoreboard shows it."
Byrd put on a show, grabbing four balls for 88 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing for 30 yards on two carries with a touchdown. Edwards meanwhile finished with 133 yards on 14 carries for the high-powered Sting offense, which built a 30-0 lead by halftime. Sting quarterback Tim Bona displayed pinpoint accuracy with 15-for-17 passing for 249 yards and three touchdowns and Shawn Bibeau hit three field goals, including a 47-yard field goal.
"Our offense is just waiting to blow every time we get the ball," Gamble said. "It is that explosive. We've not only got speed in skill positions, we've got an athletic offensive line that just likes to get out there and take it to people."
Damien Lolar had three receptions for 29 yards and a touchdown while Maurice Jackson finished with five receptions for 52 yards and Josh Swift caught two passes for 56 yards. Even third string quarterback JT Jurason got in the act with a 27-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to make it 50-0 after the extra point.
The victory completed an 11-0 undefeated season and kept the Sting ranked No. 1 in the nation, according to the American Football News Today in AA. The Sting will wait to see if it will be invited to play in the national championship game in January in Homestead, Fla.
The Sting defense forced four turnovers and allowed just 80 points the entire season.
"Shawn Anderson is the best defensive coach around," Gamble said. "He's really good. He's calculated and his defense, they work for him."
Brainerd had difficulty sustaining any drive and only threatened to score near the end of the first half, but the Sting stopped the Lumberjacks at the 5-yard line as the first half expired.
The Sting plays in the Minnesota Premier Football League with other teams from across Minnesota - the Brainerd Lumberjacks, the Midwest Nightmare, the Twin Cities Titans, the Granite City Renegades, the West Central Broncos, the Minnesota Phoenix and the Carlton County Stampede. Vice President of Operations Brad Asplund and team President Aaron Anderson co-founded the Sting in 2009.
Last season, the Sting won its first Midwest Premier Football League championship defeating the Brainerd Lumberjacks 27-0 at Hamline University in St. Paul. The win gave the Sting an 11-1 overall record for the year and its first league championship in its three year existence.
The Sting has been an organization for four years. A majority of the team's players are recent high school graduates and the roster is full of players hoping to advance into Arena League Football, the Canadian Football League or gain college scholarships. Some, however, are just trying to play football as much as they can for as long as they can.
The Sting have a number of locals on the roster, including Park graduate Brandon Johnson, first-year defensive end Uzoma Obasi, a Hill-Murray School graduate who grew up in Woodbury, and Jordan LaDouceur, who currently lives in Woodbury.
"We had the horses this year," Gamble said.