High school football: Edina’s offense rolls in Class 6A quarterfinal win over Stillwater

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Not much was going the way of Edina senior John Warpinski and his teammates in the early going of their Class 6A state quarterfinal against Stillwater Thursday night.

But after that, almost everything did.

Warpinski rushed for 254 yards and two touchdowns, sophomore quarterback Mason West threw for four scores and the Hornets got a first-half safety and a touchdown on a blocked punt as they rolled past the Ponies 49-21 at Park Center High School.

“Our offense was just rolling,” said Warpinski, whose team has now won seven games in a row after losing three straight early on this season. “We knew what we had to do to set up the run. Our wide receivers were not going to get beat one-on-one. They’re incredible players and the run-pass combo was really working for us tonight.”

Edina (8-3) advances to face the winner of Friday’s quarterfinal matchup between Lakeville North and Eden Prairie in the semifinals at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 17 at U.S. Bank Stadium. Stillwater finished its season 8-3 overall.

“When I took over four years ago, it was during COVID with all the guidelines and rules,” Hornets coach Jason Potts said. “We didn’t score a touchdown in our first few games. So to go from that season to this one really means a lot. It’s a credit to our seniors. It’s a credit to our coaching staff and the endless amount of work that goes on in the winter and the spring.”

The Ponies struck first, getting the opening kickoff and marching 60 yards to score on a 1-yard quarterback sneak from sophomore Nick Kinsey. It looked as if their momentum would continue when it initially appeared they had recovered the ensuing onside kick.

But the officials ruled an illegal touch, and the Hornets took possession at the Stillwater 45. And from there it was off to the races while the Ponies seemed stuck in reverse.

“We thought we made a good play on the onside kick,” Stillwater coach Beau LaBore said. “But what seemed like a really great situation for us turned unfortunate.”

Edina cut the gap to 7-6 on a 27-yard touchdown pass from West to senior Sonny Villegas. Then, on Stillwater’s first play after the kickoff, a bad snap sailed past Kinsey who fell on it in the end zone for an Edina safety, putting the Hornets on top 8-7.

Edina got the kickoff and expanded its lead to 14-7 on a 30-yard touchdown run up the middle by Warpinski. And the Ponies’ woes continued on their next possession when Hornets senior defensive lineman Kade Chrysler blocked a punt, recovered the ball and took it into the end zone to make the score 21-7.

“There were half-a-dozen things that happened in the first quarter that were ordinary plays we typically make and a few others that were just unfortunate and that hurt,” LaBore said. “But if you really look at it in the big picture, they played well on the line of scrimmage. That’s where they earned the game.”

The Hornets kept on the offensive in the second quarter, scoring on an 18-yard touchdown catch by Villegas. Then, after Stillwater cut the gap to 28-14 on a 47-yard touchdown catch by senior Brett Hilde, Warpinski scored on a 10-yard touchdown run with 20 seconds to play before halftime to expand the Edina lead to 35-14.

“We work hard every single day in practice trying to get better,” West said. “We win games on the weekdays. This is just where it pays off.”

Junior Meyer Swinney had a 17-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter, then West connected with senior tight end Charles Greene on a 4-yard touchdown strike in the fourth to close out the scoring for the Hornets.

Stillwater cut the gap to 49-21 on a 12-yard touchdown catch by senior Tanner Schmidt with 7:09 to play. But by then, the game was well out of reach.

“We’ve never played in the Bank before,” Warpinski said. “This is the stuff you dream about as a kid growing up watching the varsity players. This is the spot you hope to be in and now we’re here.”

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