During one of the finest weeks of weather in the history of weather, I saw what those of you who live in northern Minnesota see every day in the fall. During our MSHSL road trip for Area Meetings in Fergus Falls, Thief River Falls and Chisholm – plus a couple of side trips I took to a Student Sports Information Directors workshop at Ada-Borup on Monday and a Bemidji-Hibbing volleyball match on Tuesday – I witnessed the absolute greatest scenery our state has to offer.
I’ve spent lots of time previously in northern Minnesota over the years, but never had spent three or four days driving through the peaking fall colors. Stunning, absolutely stunning, and it’s something that shouldn’t be taken for granted.
After driving more than 2,500 miles in September, I christened October on Friday by taking a much shorter trip to Rosemount High School, where the Irish football team played host to Lakeville South in one of the biggest games in the history of the South Suburban Conference. OK, OK, I know that the SSC has only been in existence for a few weeks, but that’s a pretty funny line, right? Neither coach – Larry Thompson of Lakeville South and Jeff Erdmann of Rosemount – argued with me when I made that statement during pregame warm-ups Friday.
And continuing the theme of great conditions and great settings, Friday’s game fit the bill perfectly. The temperature was just right for football, the crowd filled every seat as well of tons of standing room, and homecoming at Rosemount was as fine as they come. The marching band, the cheerleaders, the dance team, the Rosemount Super Fans, the sunshine, the lights, the anthem performed by the Rosemount choir – including several football players in uniform. Perfection.
(For photo galleries from the game, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.)
The game went Rosemount’s way almost from the start. Lakeville South moved downfield and opened the scoring with a field goal, but then it was all Irish. Rosemount’s first offensive play was a 53-yard TD run by quarterback Kevin Larson and the final was 35-3 in favor of the home team.
The victory marks the Irish as a serious contender in Class 5A. The Irish are 5-0 with regular-season games remaining against Apple Valley (0-5), Eastview (3-2) and Eagan (3-2). Rosemount is ranked No. 6 in 5A, and that may not be high enough. They are strong and diversified on offense, with a defense that is built on speed.
Lakeville South (3-2) may be a year away, especially when you look at quarterback Mitchell Leidner. He is a 6-foot-4, 220-pound junior who has a good arm and quick feet; he has thrown for more than 1,000 yards this season. The Cougars will finish the regular season against Lakeville North (3-2), Prior Lake (4-1) and Burnsville (2-3).
The Lakeville South-Rosemount game was a contrast in black and yellow. The South students dressed in all black, while the Rosemount kids went with a “Yellow-Out” theme. The Rosemount stadium has seating for 3,300 people, and with the overflow of standees the crowd was estimated around 4,000.
There are quirky, fun little traditions everywhere you go. At Rosemount, some fans have begun sharing Twizzlers (you know, the red stringy candy) whenever the Irish score. It’s known as Touchdown Twizzlers. After one of the many Irish scores Friday, someone said as the Twizzlers were distributed, “I hope they brought enough.”
If they didn’t, that was the only thing that wasn’t perfect on this football Friday.
BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 56
*Miles John has driven: 3,749
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