MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Asked about calling 44 plays for tailback Joel Bauman on Friday, Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg coach James Cortez just shrugged.
"That's just another day at work for him," Cortez said. "He's expected to do that for us. He's our tailback and our tailbacks get a lot of carries."
Bauman set a Prep Bowl record for carries in a game, and his 289 yards rushing were just 10 away from another record, as Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg beat Royalton 33-22 in the Class 1A championship on Friday.
It was the first state championship for the Fighting Saints, who lost to eventual-champion Goodhue in the semifinals last season.
Bauman averaged 6.6 yards per carry, including a 67-yard run that helped the Fighting Saints pull away from Royalton, giving them a 13-point lead. Bauman evaded five defenders on the run, which Cortez called a "huge spark."
At a lanky 6-foor-2, 190 pounds, Bauman doesn't look like a workhorse, but he carried the ball 47 times in the section finals Nov. 8. A junior, Bauman is also one of the state's top wrestlers and has Division I interest in both sports.
"It's not over yet," he said. "I still have to win state and nationals in wrestling, and we have to get back here next year."
The teams were tied at halftime, but the Fighting Saints outgained Royalton 274-138 in the second half.
"I told myself I better come harder," Bauman said. "I had to come harder and lead my team."
The previous record for carries was 39, set by Wayzata's Joey Miller in 2005. After sealing the win with a turnover on downs late in the fourth quarter, KMS gave the ball to Bauman three times in an attempt to break the Prep Bowl rushing yards record.
Cortez, in his fifth year as head coach, grew up in Kerkhoven and played for the Fighting Saints. He said the offense has featured a heavy workload for the tailback "for the last 30 years."
"This is as good as it can be for our community," Cortez said. "For 30 years they've been playing like that and haven't been able to get to this point."
When the two teams met in the regular season, Royalton shut down Bauman in a 22-7 victory that helped the Royals capture the conference championship.
"They can have that any day," Cortez said.
Senior quarterback Zach Lanners finished 7-for-12 for 118 yards and Shawn Lanners had 10 carries for 95 yards for Royalton.
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