COTTAGE GROVE – Dom Montiel saved his best for last.
The Marshfield senior quarterback put the exclamation point on a sensational senior season Saturday night by accounting for 560 total yards to lead his team past league rival Marist Catholic 49-34 in the OSAA/OnPoint Community Credit Union 4A football final at Cottage Grove High School.
Montiel not only completed 28 of 44 passes for a career-high 439 yards and five touchdowns, he ran for a career-best 121 yards and one score on 17 carries for the top-seeded Pirates (15-0), who won their first state championship since 1992.
“It's just great team chemistry,” Montiel said. “We've been playing together since third grade, and for this to come to fruition is awesome. … Since third grade, our goal was to win a state championship. So we got a blessing of a full season and we took advantage of it.”
Marshfield coach John Lemmons was a player on the 1992 title team. He led the Pirates to the final in his first season as coach in 2017, when they lost to Cottage Grove.
“Oh, it's an amazing feeling,” Lemmons said of the title. “Both of them were. They're just really awesome, very special. Took me a long time being a player in winning at '92 to realize how special it is. So it's not easy to get here. Then when you get here, it's not easy to win it. So it's a dream come true. I feel very blessed.”
Marshfield, which beat No. 7 Marist Catholic 48-41 in the regular-season finale for the Sky-Em League title, never trailed against the Spartans (10-3), who were bidding for their first championship since 2009.
The Pirates took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter on a one-yard run by Ezra Waterman and an 18-yard pass from Montiel to Mason Pederson. Montiel and Pederson connected on touchdown passes of 46 and eight yards in the second quarter, the latter opening a 42-20 lead.
Marist Catholic wouldn't go away, though. Ryan Cary, who returned a kickoff 82 yards for a score in the second quarter, caught a 42-yard touchdown pass from Carter Greene as time expired in the first half to make it 42-27.
The Spartans got to within 42-34 on a 52-yard run by Kaiden Ayoma early in the fourth quarter, and they got the ball back at the Marshfield 29 with 9:53 left when Tanner Relling intercepted Montiel.
But on fourth-and-three at the Marshfield 4, the Pirates stopped running back Lucas Tuski an inch short of the first down. Marshfield's offense responded by driving 99 yards on 15 plays to make it 49-34 on a 12-yard touchdown run by Montiel with 1:30 left.
“That was everything you dream about, a game ending like that,” Lemmons said of the clinching drive. “And it's just a testimony to the character and the grit of these young men. Man, just absolutely awesome that they finished that way.”
Did the Pirates ever feel as if the game was slipping from their grasp?
“Never. Never a doubt in my mind,” said Montiel, who threw seven touchdown passes in the first meeting with Marist Catholic. “I trust all these guys to make a play. … I have all the trust in the coaches, and I knew we were going to win that game.”
Marshfield finished with a 608-373 advantage in total yards. Pederson had nine catches for 203 yards and three touchdowns, DJ Daugherty had 10 catches for 151 yards and one score and Maddux Mateski had seven catches for 64 yards and one score.
Lemmons praised Marshfield's senior class.
“They're really tight,” Lemmons said. “They do what they need to do in the offseason. And they've really set the tone for the underclassmen. It's not very often you get classes like this, in my experience, so you've just got to miss the heck out of the guys. They're just all heart.”
Marist Catholic's Tuski ended his brilliant high school career by rushing for 160 yards and one touchdown on 25 carries. Greene completed 8 of 20 passes for 116 yards and one touchdown and had nine carries for 32 yards and one score.