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Dassel-Cokato's trip to Prep Bowl inspired by late teammate

Jacob MacDonald, who died in 2017 from a peanut allergy reaction, would have been a senior on the team that beat Annandale to earn first-ever trip to Prep Bowl.

COKATO, Minnesota — An amazing run for the Dassel-Cokato Chargers would only be better if Jacob were here.

"Jacob, he just played with so much emotion," said teammate Eli Tormanen.

"Oh yeah, he was a stud as a sophomore," said teammate Jackson Martin.

Two years ago, sophomore Jacob MacDonald died from a reaction to a peanut allergy, stunning his classmates and the entire community.

"It didn't seem real at first," said teammate Sanders Asplin.

Jacob loved football and was a star. So at the beginning of their senior season, his classmates decided to honor him. They brought Jacob's jersey, number 34, to the field at every game. And they made their team motto "MacDon Strong."

And the Chargers just kept winning games and lifting up Jacob's family.

"I feel like this run is kind of keeping his legacy alive," Martin said.

"And a lot of them will say, 'We're doing it for him. Win one more for him,'" said Jacob's mother Bonni Halverson. "It means a lot."

The family goes to every game. The players look out for Jacob's little brother and sister.

"To be able to go beyond their own pain to make our family feel good, and do it for Jacob, it just – such a beautiful class. And this team is so amazing," Halverson said.

On Saturday, the Chargers' amazing run continued, beating rival Annandale.. to earn the school's first trip to the Prep Bowl.

The Dassel-Cokoto Chargers have gone through adversity on a level way more important than sports.  And they will tell you, in so many ways, Jacob is still here. 

"He's definitely still here with us. We always talk about him as our 12th man on the field," Martin said.

The Prep Bowl is the Saturday after Thanksgiving, and Dassel-Cokato takes on Pierz.