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Prep Bowl: Vikings’ Thanksgiving game pushes Minnesota high school football title games back one week

The Prep Bowl was held the weekend before Thanksgiving at the ends of the 2014 and 2015 seasons, when the title games were held outdoors on the University of Minnesota campus.

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Fertile-Beltrami senior running back Everett Balstad fights his way into the end zone for a second-half touchdown in the Falcons' 30-22 win over Hills-Beaver Creek at U.S. Bank Stadium in the 9-man Minnesota state football semifinals on Friday, Nov. 19, 2021. Eric Morken / Alexandria Echo Press
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The Prep Bowl will be played Dec. 2-3 this season, as the high school football state championship games at U.S. Bank Stadium were pushed back a week from the traditional post-Thanksgiving weekend slot.

That’s because the Minnesota Vikings play host to the New England Patriots in Minneapolis on Thanksgiving night. The timing of the game, and NBC’s massive broadcast setup and takedown process, made it unfeasible for the Minnesota State High School League and its broadcast partner to set up in time for games the next day.

“We are excited for our partner, the Minnesota Vikings, and for the State of Minnesota, to have an opportunity to host a rare Thanksgiving evening game,” MSHSL associate director Bob Madison said in a statement. “Along with our partner, U.S. Bank Stadium, we look forward to hosting this year’s Prep Bowl and making it the best possible experience for our student-athletes and their school communities.”

The Prep Bowl was held the weekend before Thanksgiving at the ends of the 2014 and 2015 seasons, when the title games were held outdoors on the University of Minnesota campus.

While the final weekend of the Minnesota high school football season shifts back a week this year, everything else remains on the same schedule. Practices will begin Aug. 15, with the first games for most teams taking place on Labor Day weekend. The state tournament semifinals will be played at U.S. Bank Stadium from Nov. 17-19, leaving two weeks between the semifinals and the championship games.

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The non-Thanksgiving weekend Prep Bowl could allow for more fan attendance, as fewer people should have holiday obligations. It also opens up more holiday time for participating players and coaches.

Teams will have more preparation time for the most important game of the season, though practices at that time of year typically must take place indoors due to cold temperatures and lack of daylight. So domes and bubbles will need to be rented out for an additional week of prep.

The additional week to the football season also means athletes participating in the title games will be late one more week for their winter sport seasons.

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