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Barnum senior Cody Shelgren runs past Braham's Jake Smith during the Section 7A championship game on Thursday at Public Schools Stadium in Duluth. Dave Harwig/Pine Journal

Braham's bomb beats Barnum

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DULUTH -- When his football career came to a close at the sound of last Thursday's buzzer, Barnum's Zac Carlson didn't wait long to find teammate Zach Peterson for a hug.

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"He was the first guy I went to," said Carlson of the sidelined Peterson who, after a recent concussion, could only watch Braham beat Barnum 28-20 for the Section 7A prep football championship on Halloween night at Public Schools Stadium in Duluth. "He wanted to be out there with us."

Peterson, a 5-foot-11, 180-pound senior fullback, was inactive after suffering the concussion in the Bombers' first-round win over Walker-Hackensack-Ackley Oct. 22. Last Monday, the backfield stalwart was told he couldn't play.

"It's rough," said a teary-eyed Peterson, who wore his No. 36 jersey over a sweatshirt last week. "Things happen."

Despite a 28-6 defeat in the first marquee Bombers-versus-Bombers battle Oct. 4, eighth-ranked Barnum happened to hold leads of 14-6 by halftime and 20-12 entering the fourth quarter -- on two scores coming from the shifty running back Carlson and another via quarterback Brandon Newman -- last week against pass-happy, unblemished Braham.

"All of sudden they got two touchdowns on three plays," Barnum Coach Brian Robertson said of fourth-rated Braham (10-0), which sports an operative shotgun spread offense unlike many teams in Class A. "They can score in a hurry."

That's what happened when standout quarterback John Larson linked with Zach Dahlman on a 48-yard strike to tie it at 20 in the fourth, only to later loft a 63-yard TD to wide-open Elijah Overton on a bomb down the right sideline.

"We have to trust John, he's done that for us all season long," said Braham Coach Shawn Kuhnke of his sophomore signal-caller, who threw for 143 of his 247 yards and three of his four scores in their 22-point second half. "He's a competitor with true grit. He does anything it takes to win."

"It feels good," said Larson, holding the championship plaque in his arms. "I've had some unbelievable games this year, but this is the best feeling I've ever had."

That feeling isn't the same for Barnum, which finished 9-2, losing only to Braham and one step short of a State repeat.

"We left it all on the field," a proud Robertson said outside the locker room afterward. "We just ran out of gas."

Newman noted Peterson gave the pre-game speech.

"It's the only sport I play," Peterson said. "They're pretty much my brothers out there. I treat them like family."

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