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A Perfect Day For Football in Southern Minnesota
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/30/2010 9:03:16 PM

Saturday was one of those days that you truly appreciate, especially if you’ve spent most of the previous four evenings wearing multiple layers of cold-weather clothing, subconsciously turning your body so the wind isn’t in full-frontal mode and feeling your ears crack.

My Saturday was spent in Jackson, which is only eight miles from the Iowa border. Our neighbors to the south are also in high school football playoff mode, only they will have games on Monday night. Is that weird or is it just me? ... me being a person who has witnessed football games this fall on Fridays, Thursdays, Wednesday and Saturdays.

The sun was bright Saturday, but the chill hadn’t entirely left us. It was what I would call a “mittens and sunglasses” kind of day. The Jackson County Central Huskies met the Windom Eagles in a Class 2A Section 3 semifinal game, and the outcome was not much of a surprise. Jackson led 21-0 after one quarter and rolled to a 42-0 victory.

Top-seeded Jackson County Central (9-1), ranked eighth in 2A, will now face Luverne (8-2) in the section championship game Friday night at Southwest Minnesota State in Marshall.

Fourth-seeded Windom Area (5-4) had opened the season with four victories before losing four in a row, including a 29-0 loss to JCC in the regular-season finale. Thus the “not much of a surprise” factor Saturday.

Jackson had defeated beat St. James 48-0 in Tuesday’s playoff opener and Windom got past Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial 21-0.

I HAD DRIVEN through Jackson many times but Saturday was my first stop in town. The high school is surrounded by acres of spacious athletic facilities, some of the finest I have seen in the state. Wacker Field is a wonderful spot for baseball and Swearingen Field, home of the Huskies football team, is top-notch.

There is no track around the football field, so the fans are right on top of things. An old press box sits on one side of the field and a newer version is across the way. There are eight wooden light poles that carry 32 bulbs; I imagine it’s not the most well-lit field for night-time football, but Saturday’s viewing conditions were spectacular.

JCC owned this game from the get-go, thanks to several factors, including a pretty good wind, a Brazilian kicker and some fine play by the Huskies special teams.

After foreign-exchange student Marcelo Rinaldi booted the opening kickoff through the end zone (backed by the wind), a Windom punt was returned a long ways by Carson Nyborg. Two plays later, Tanner Menke threw to Nyborg for a 10-yard TD.

After Rinaldi’s second kickoff went through the uprights, a bad punt snap and upended punter set up JCC at the Windom 17, and Colton Ward scored on a 9-yard run. Windom’s third possession ended in a sack/caused fumble/recovered fumble by Tyler Schoer. Windom’s Drake Borsgard picked off a pass in the end zone to end the threat, but a 14-yard TD run by Nyborg made it 21-0 before the first quarter ended.

Menke, the Huskies’ sophomore QB, was injured in the second quarter and did not return. But another Tanner – senior Tanner Asa – took over the reins. It was an impressive performance by JCC, which showed a very strong running game out of the wishbone.

OTHER SIGHTS AND sounds from a splendid Saturday …

--The fullback in the Huskies’ wishbone is a load to tackle. Jordan Phibbs is a 5-foot-11, 230-pound senior who – no surprise here – placed third in the Class A state wrestling tournament last year as a heavyweight. Big, strong and scary.

--Best name of the season so far: Boog. No kidding. Boog Steiner is a senior kicker for the Huskies. C’mon Boog, is that your real name?

--We had a great presentation of the colors and national anthem. The guys from the Jackson VFW post marched out to a drum roll and the JCC band played a splendid anthem. And as should always be the case, everyone remained standing and hat-less until the colors had been retired. Wonderful pregame scene.

--Something Else I Learned Today: The JCC school song is the Minnesota Rouser. (That was my high school’s song, too.)

--It’s common at the big schools in the metro to see video cameras sitting atop telescoping poles that lift the cameras high into the sky while a fellow on the ground watches a video screen. In Jackson they used a boom truck – the kind that comes out for electrical work or tree-trimming – to hoist a guy with a camera in his hand. Makes a lot of sense.

--Pregame concession choice: Pork sandwich with pickles and barbecue sauce. Fine football fare.

--The local Pizza Ranch sponsored a cool little deal called the “Sack Attack.” Whenever the Huskies recorded a sack, a name was drawn and the winner received a free buffet lunch at the Pizza Ranch. Where do I sign up?

--As Rinaldi kept booting kickoffs through the end zone, a gaggle of little kids gathered in that area to scramble for the football as it came bounding out of the field of play.

--The halftime show featured the JCC cheerleaders and the school mascot, Hammer the Husky, dancing to MC Hammer’s 1990 classic, “Can’t Touch This.” Very solid entertainment.

To see lots of photos from the game, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 116
*Miles John has driven: 4,540

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Follow Up: Girls’ State Tennis Results (And Football Plans)
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/29/2010 3:55:06 PM

On Thursday I wrote about Jessica Aney, a seventh-grade tennis player from Rochester Century. The 4-foot-11 12-year-old advanced to Friday’s championship singles match at the Class 2A state tournament before losing.

Her opponent in the title round was teammate Kelsey Frechette, a Century junior. Kelsey defeated Jessica 6-2, 4-6, 6-3. Edina's Katie Medlar and Mollie Meldahl defeated Mounds View's Laurel Krebsbach and Tacy Haws-Lay 6-1, 7-5 to win the 2A doubles title. In 1A, the doubles crown went to Rochester Lourdes' Brittany Alexander and Margaret Pearson with a 6-4, 7-5 win over Emily Alper and Sunny Tang of Breck. Amber Washington of Mounds Park Academy won the 1A singles title with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Elena Sullivan of Providence Academy. (Lots of photos have been posted on the MSHSL Facebook page.)

--I wrote earlier in the week that I planned to be in Springfield for a Class 1A Section 2 football semifinal game Saturday. The plans have changed – I’ll have to explain the decision later – and I will instead be in Jackson on Saturday. Jackson County Central will play host to Windom Area in a Class 2A Section 3 semifinal.

Have a great weekend!

A Great Story Of Sportsmanship
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/29/2010 10:23:06 AM

Our world of school sports and activities is filled with great competitions and memorable finishes. But nothing is more important than sportsmanship and respect for our fellow competitors, and there was a wonderful display of this at a section cross-country meet on Thursday in Willmar.

The name to remember is Trevor Jahn from Orono High School. As the emails below attest, what Trevor did will be remembered much longer than the race results. I will let two emails tell the story …

I am honored to be forwarding an email that I received today regarding one of our cross-country runners from Orono. What a moment for this person and our school.

I arrived to school today tired, feeling terrible our soccer team lost in the State Quarterfinals and we had no runners qualify for state. Paula sent me an email that has changed my day.

Our runner, Trevor Jahn, has defined the true meaning of athletics. At the Section 2AA meet Thursday, Trevor was so determined to qualify for state and has been working for that goal for five years. Knowing toward the finish line that he may not finish in the top 10, a runner from Hutchinson fell and kind of went off the course. Trevor stopped and helped this runner. They finished the race together. Looking at Trevor's finish position he probably finished 20-plus spots worse than where he should have finished.

I have known TJ since sixth grade and have seen this young man lead his life as a person of character. Trevor has never once put his own goals above the team's goals. As a leader in our school, Trevor has always helped the underdog and has supported what is right. Trevor truly believes that anyone else would have done the same thing. My response is then why didn't the others that passed you stop?

These are the stories and moments we need to focus on. Twenty years from now nobody will remember who qualified for state. They will remember the great act of character and sportsmanship that Trevor demonstrated.

John, this would be a great story for your journal and hope there is a way the MSHSL can use the story to promote the true essence of athletics.

Proud to be a Spartan!
Bucky Mieras
Activities Director
Orono High School

I am sending you a photo of a wonderful moment that I witnessed today at the Section CC meet in Willmar. A CC runner from Hutchinson High School fell as he was approaching the finish line. A runner from Orono HS who was also approaching the finish line stopped and helped the runner from Hutchinson up and then proceeded to assist him in starting to run again, to finish the race.

You should be very proud of this student-athlete from Orono HS.....such character and sportsmanship he showed today! It made me think of an "Athlete's Prayer" I once heard at a HS Sports Banquet:

"God, let me play well but fairly.
Help me to learn something that matters
once the game is over.
Let competition make me strong but never hostile.
Always let me help my opponent up.
Never catch me rejoicing in the adversity of others.
If I know victory, allow me to be happy; if I am denied, keep me from envy.
Remind me that sports are just games.
If through athletics I set an example,
let it be a good one."

I don't know who this young man from Orono HS is...but he certainly set a very good example today!! In a world where sports tends to be very "me" oriented, it was refreshing to see such a wonderful act of sportsmanship!

I wish I would have taken a photo of him helping the Hutchinson runner up, but I was so in awe of the whole situation that I almost forgot that I had my camera in my hand!
Please be sure to let this young man know that his act of sportsmanship did not go unnoticed!!

Paula Traphagen-Bossert

There is a postscript to the story. Hutchinson Leader sports editor Eric Kraushar shot video of the race, which can be viewed by going to myprepsplus.mn (under Videos, look for "Hutch CC - Section 2AA Meet")

At about the 5:30 mark of the video you will see Hutchinson runner Isaiah Barlow lose his balance coming down a hill and fall. That’s when Trevor stops and helps Isaiah.

Eric wrote that he spoke to Trevor as well as Trevor’s mother after the race. Trevor’s mom said, “It's the proudest I've ever been of my son.”

Well done, Trevor. You are an inspiration to us all.

12 Years Old, Two Wins From A State Tennis Title
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/28/2010 3:53:10 PM

In 1995, I watched an explosive young female athlete burst onto the Minnesota sports scene. I may have seen the same thing happen on Thursday.

Fifteen years ago, the athlete was Natalie Darwitz. She was then the seventh-grade star of the Eagan High School girls’ hockey team. Natalie, of course, went on to play hockey and win two NCAA championships at the University of Minnesota and become a star for the U.S. in world competition and the Olympics. She’s now an assistant coach for the Gophers women’s hockey team, which practices and plays at Ridder Arena on the U of M campus.

A concrete wall separates Ridder Arena and the U of M’s Baseline Tennis Center, site of this week’s Class 2A girls’ state tennis tournament. I don’t want to take too big of a leap here – or put Darwitz-caliber pressure on another young athlete – but the only thing separating Natalie Darwitz and Jessica Aney might be years.

Aney is 12 years old; she won’t be 13 until April. She is a seventh-grader at Friedell Middle School in Rochester and the No. 2 singles player on the tennis team at Rochester Century High School. She is gaining national fame … but more on that in a bit.

Jessica is 4-foot-11 and she stands two victories away from being a state champion. On Thursday she defeated Edina junior Meghana Vasireddy and Minnetonka junior Jessa Richards, both by 6-3, 6-3 scores. Aney will meet Mounds View junior Melanie Yates in Friday morning’s semifinal round at Baseline.

Another Century player, junior Kelsey Frechette, advanced to the semifinals on the other side of the bracket. She will meet Blaine sophomore Mary Liz Swanson.

Despite Aney’s age, she is not intimidated by a steady stream of older competition.

“It’s really fun, but I’ve been playing against really good players my whole life,” she said Thursday.

Century coach Kyle Anderson has watched Aney for years, but even he was impressed by what he saw Thursday.

“Nothing fazes her,” he said. “She’s playing like a state tournament veteran. She’s a great athlete and from day one she has shown the determination to play every ball and use her time efficiently.”

Jessica has been playing tennis since she was 5. Her dad, Tom, played tennis at Minnesota-Duluth and her mom, Karen, was a tennis player at Luther College in Iowa. Jessica’s big sister Katie is a freshman on the tennis and hockey teams at Century and kid brother Nick is a fifth-grader who also plays both sports.

Watching Jessica on the court is like watching Darwitz on the ice 15 years ago. Natalie was tiny but equipped with speed, explosiveness and determination. Jessica is all business on the court, using tremendously quick feet to cover lots of ground.

“I think I’m really fast defensively,” she said to no one’s surprise.

Now, about that national acclaim. A photographer from Sports Illustrated For Kids was at Baseline on Thursday, and Jessica was the assignment. She is one of three finalists for the 2010 SI For Kids Sports Kid of the Year Award. More than 2,000 kids were nominated for the award; the other finalists are a 9-year-old runner from Texas and a 13-year-old football player from New York.

Jessica is ranked No. 1 in the U.S. Tennis Association Northern section (Minnesota, the Dakotas and northwestern Wisconsin) in the girls 12 and 14 age groups. She is ranked 15th nationally in the girls 12 group. She has won more than 20 USTA-sanctioned tournaments.

Academically, she gets all A’s and had the highest individual score as a member of the 2009 Math Masters state championship team. She plays the piano and is a percussionist in the school band. She sings in the church choir and does volunteer work.

Getting back to the Darwitz comparison: Jessica is one heck of a hockey player, too. She has played for high-level age-group teams and she was the MVP as her team won the 2010 International Cup 12-under Tier 1 AAA championship. It’s safe to say she will see lots of ice for the Century High School team this winter.

The high school tennis season ends Friday. Girls’ hockey practice begins on Monday.

Hey Jessica, take a couple of days off. We know we’ll be hearing from you again.

(To see video and photos of Jessica Aney, as well as photos of other players from Thursday's tennis tournament, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.)

*Schools/teams John has visited: 110
*Miles John has driven: 4,182

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf Coach Gets 300th Victory
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/28/2010 10:11:09 AM

Happy Thursday. Here's a feel-good story, thanks to Tyler Mason of the Faribault Daily News ...

Michele Heise is a member of the 300-win club.

The Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf volleyball coach earned the milestone victory Wednesday as the Trojans defeated the International School of Minnesota by a 3-0 final in the first round of the Eastern Minnesota Athletic Conference tournament.

“What a nice honor for 300 wins,” Heise said. “I’ve really enjoyed coaching volleyball for 17 years. Every year is always special.”

Heise began coaching the Trojans in 1994 and compiled a 16-4 record in her first season. Since then, she has had just two losing seasons, and helped MSAD to a 26-5 record so far this season. Heise’s squads have won at least 25 games in each of the last three seasons.

“MSAD is my soul,” Heise said. “I have been in the MSAD gym for almost all of my life since I grew up and worked there.”

The Trojans cruised to the 3-0 victory over the Warriors, opening with a 25-14 win in the first set. That would be the closest final score the International School would have, as MSAD went on to earn victories of 25-6 and 25-10.

Cindy Siebert had a team-high 13 service aces, while Molly Perkins added 11. As a team, MSAD had 38 aces.

Siebert also added 15 set assists, and Rachel Novella had four kills and three digs in the win.

“It was nice to see everyone getting the chance to play in the EMAC tourney,” assistant coach Steve Hubmer said.

With the win Wednesday, the Trojans advance to the tournament’s semifinal game at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday against the winner of Shattuck-St. Mary’s and the Hmong Academy.

A win in that game would put MSAD in the championship, which takes place later in the day at 6:30 p.m.

— Sports reporter Tyler Mason may be reached at 333-3119.

A Day Of Indoor Championships and Outdoor Challenges
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/27/2010 10:50:11 PM

Wednesday was much like Tuesday in our little corner of the world. The wind howled like a banshee as it roared across the prairie, playing havoc with motor vehicles, tree limbs and people walking down the street.

The best part of the day for me was the morning and afternoon, which I spent inside the friendly confines of indoor tennis centers. The team portion of the girls’ state tennis tournaments concluded with Edina winning the Class 2A championship and Rochester Lourdes capturing the 1A title.

Then came the outdoor portion of my day. I walked onto the soccer field at Hopkins High School well after nightfall, wearing about nine layers of clothing, and began shooting some photos. I noticed another photographer all bundled up, but there was no way to identify anyone in that state of dress.

But then I noticed what seemed to be a few familiar facial features. I looked again and said, “Kyndell? Is that you in there?” It indeed was Star Tribune photographer Kyndell Harkness, a former colleague. “Hey, John,” she said. We chatted while the wind blew and the mist fell. Then I waved the white flag – just as I did at halftime of the previous night’s football game – and retreated to the press box.

The state soccer tournament kicked off Wednesday with two girls’ games at Hopkins and two girls’ games at St. Cloud State. There will be more of the same through Friday at several sites before soccer moves into the Metrodome for the semifinal and final rounds.

Thank goodness for the Metrodome, too, because my last act before leaving Hopkins was a little scary. I was inside a porty-potty (who do so many of my experiences involve portable biffs?) when the wind rattled and almost tipped the darn thing over. Someone in an adjoining biff let out a shriek as our capsules began to jostle ever so slightly. No fun, no fun at all.

Oh, and when I pulled into my garage I noticed that one of my car’s headlights was burned out.

But as always, tomorrow’s another day.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 106
*Miles John has driven: 4,162

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

A Mighty Wind, A Football Blowout And A Special Gift
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/26/2010 11:54:17 PM

Maybe it was because I couldn’t feel my fingers. Maybe it was because the wind kept trying to tip me over. Whatever the reason, I bailed out on the sidelines at halftime of the Edina-Minnetonka football playoff game Tuesday night.

I headed up to the press box, which was the smartest thing I did all day. The wind was … well, if you were at a game you know what the wind was like. The temps were in the 40s in the Twin Cities, but I unofficially clocked the wind at a little more than a bazillion miles per hour.

Minnetonka beat Edina 39-0 in a game that employed the so-called mercy rule, in which the clock does not stop in the fourth quarter when the margin is at least 35 points. And mercy me, nobody was upset about having the game end a little quicker than usual. My hasty halftime retreat to the press box was delayed just a bit, however.

Before the game, as is my custom, I shot photos of cheerleaders, fans, etc. (those are the bundled-up Minnetonka student managers in the photo.) A couple of members of the Minnetonka dance team smiled and posed when I pointed my camera their way, and then we chatted for a few seconds. I told them that I would photograph their halftime performance and post the photos on the MSHSL Facebook page (which I did, as you can see by going to that page).

As the first half wound down, however, a little blinking light on my camera was telling me, “Hey dummy, our battery is almost dead.” My backup battery was in my backpack, which was staying warm up in the press box. So I stopped shooting the football game, shut off the camera and saved some juice for the halftime show.

Mission accomplished … up to the press box … new battery installed and away we go.

The game was exactly what the final score would indicate. Minnetonka reversed a regular-season decision in beating Edina and moving on to face Eden Prairie in Saturday’s Class 5A Section 6 semifinals. The opening kickoff danced and juked in the wind, Edina’s returners couldn’t find a handle on the darn thing and Minnetonka’s Charles Webb jumped on the ball in the end zone.

James Farrow, who has committed to play at Virginia Tech, ran for short (8 yard) and long (61) touchdowns and intercepted two passes for Minnetonka. He also did the head official a favor and grabbed his hat when it blew off his noggin during the first half. (As seen in this photo.)

THAT OPENING touchdown was a gift for the Skippers, and a member of their coaching staff gave me a little gift as we sat together in the press box during the second half. John Mattox is an old coach whom I have known for a long time, and I always look forward to seeing the guy who is called “Mad Dog” by his players.

We were sitting there when John asked me, “Do you ever wear bolo ties?” Yes, I answered, saying that I had lived in Phoenix for a few years so I am very familiar with the classic western necktie. John reached into the pocket of his jacket and handed me an object in a plastic bag. It was a bolo tie; the metal clasp said “Tonka Pride” and carried an “M” for Minnetonka. “I made it myself,” he said.

It’s a work of art, as you can see in the photo. I’m no craftsman, so I don’t pretend to understand the process for creating such a nice piece. But I will treasure it, because it came from a good friend.

NOW IT’S ON TO Wednesday, which means day two of the girls’ state tennis tournaments and day one of state soccer quarterfinals. My plan is much like Tuesday’s: watch indoor tennis in the first part of the day and then bundle up for another evening of outdoor sports.

I’m afraid to look at the weather forecast.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 102
*Miles John has driven: 4,162

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Dry, Warm Tennis … And Cold, Wet Football To Come
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/26/2010 5:01:02 PM

The opening day of the girls’ state tennis tournament was perfect. Well-played matches … cheering fans … and wonderful conditions, too, thanks to indoor courts.

I’m writing this from Baseline Tennis Center at the University of Minnesota, where the quarterfinal round of the Class 2A tourney has been completed. We are high and dry here at Baseline, but that theme will not continue for the entire day.

That’s because I’ll soon be headed to a football playoff game. I’m going to watch the Edina-Minnetonka game at Minnetonka, and the back seat of my car is piled high with layers of clothing and rain gear.

I’ll write more about football late this evening. For now, let’s stick to today’s indoor sporting activities.

If you believe in rankings, the opening round of the 2A girls’ tennis tournament was for you. In all four team quarterfinal matches, the higher-ranked team came out on top: No. 4 Minnetonka defeated No. 10 Elk River 6-1, No. 1 Edina beat unranked Eagan 7-0, No. 3 Rochester Mayo beat unranked Brainerd 7-0 and No. 2 Mounds View defeated No. 8 Cretin-Derham Hall 6-1.

That sets up Wednesday’s semifinals with Minnetonka facing Edina and Mayo meeting Mounds View, all at Baseline Tennis Center.

In Class 1A, the results did not necessarily follow the rankings. No. 5 Waseca edged No. 4 Virginia 4-3, unranked Staples-Motley/Verndale beat No. 7 St. James 4-3, No.8 Rochester Lourdes beat No. 10 Roseau 7-0 and No. 3 Breck beat unranked Annandale 5-2.

The matchups in the 1A semifinals will be Waseca vs. Staples-Motley/Verndale and Lourdes vs. Breck at the Reed-Sweatt Family Tennis Center in Minneapolis. (To see more photos, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.)

And now, let’s get layered up, buttoned up, zipped up and hopefully warmed up. Football beckons …

Gearing Up For A Busy, Fun Tournament Week
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/25/2010 10:17:24 AM

Tennis, anyone? How about soccer and cross-country and football, too? That’s the kind of week it will be in Minnesota, with tournaments busting out all over.

I’ve got my calendar, road map, stopwatch and compass out, trying to make a plan to see as many events as possible between Tuesday morning and Saturday night. (Also in the mix are visits to journalism classrooms at Hopkins High School on Monday and Minneapolis Washburn on Friday to discuss journalism as well as our new Student Sports Information Directors program.)

Fall state tournaments kick off with girls’ tennis running Tuesday through Friday; the Class 1A tournament will be held at Reed-Sweatt Family Tennis Center in Minneapolis and 2A is at the University of Minnesota’s Baseline Tennis Center. Team competition will take place Tuesday and Wednesday with singles and doubles filling the schedules Thursday and Friday. I’ll be bouncing back and forth between the two sites throughout the tournament.

State soccer quarterfinals for boys and girls in Class 2A and 1A will be held at several locations between Wednesday and Friday. Doubleheaders will be held at each site, and the locations are St. Cloud State, Hopkins, Park and Roseville. I’m tentatively planning to be at Hopkins for a 2A girls’ doubleheader on Wednesday evening and at Roseville for a pair of 2A boys’ games on Thursday.

Two intriguing soccer storylines involve the top-seeded boys’ teams in each class. In 2A, Apple Valley enters the state tourney with a state-record 44-game winning streak. And in 1A, the top seed is Prairie Seeds Academy, a Brooklyn Park charter school.

In cross-country, section meets will be held this week around the state. I plan to watch Wednesday's 2A Section 6 competition, where the field includes Edina, Wayzata and Eden Prairie, the top three boys’ teams in the rankings.

Section football playoffs began Saturday with a pair of Nine-Man games in Section 8 (congrats to Clearbrook-Gonvick and Climax/Fisher for advancing) and the rest of the state will play section quarterfinal games Tuesday night. I’m going to stick to the metro for Tuesday’s first round, watching a game between Edina and Minnetonka in Class 5A Section 6.

Barring a major quarterfinal upset, I will hit the road on Saturday for a Class 1A game in Section 2. Unbeaten Springfield, top-seeded in Section 2 and ranked second in 1A, will host No. 8 seed Mankato Loyola on Tuesday; a victory would mean another home game on Saturday night against Cedar Mountain/Comfrey or Sleepy Eye.

You may ask, what’s the attraction in Springfield? The No. 1 attraction is a good football team. But the Springfield Tigers’ lineup also includes one of the state’s top recruits. Tyler Marz is a 6-foot-8, 275-pound offensive tackle who has made a verbal commitment to the Wisconsin Badgers. All that makes a trip to Springfield -- even in the midst of a busy tournament week-- definitely worthwhile.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 94
*Miles John has driven: 4,098

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Monticello Girls Capture 1A True Team Swim & Dive Title
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/23/2010 12:57:22 AM

Monticello set a new team scoring record in winning the Class 1A True Team girls’ state swimming and diving championship Friday night at the U of M Aquatic Center.

The Magic (pictured) had 2,149 points, eclipsing the record of 2,071 set by (who else?) Monticello in 2008, the only previous title for the Magic. Hutchinson was second Friday with 2,061 points, followed by Visitation at 1,952.5, Northfield at 1,609 and Blake at 1,451.

Monticello won the 200 medley relay and 400 freestyle relay, and other winners for the Magic were Caley Oquist in the 200 IM and 100 backstroke and Amanda Paulson in the 50 and 100 freestyle.

To see a photo gallery from the meet, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

As Tournaments Crank Up, Let’s Remember What’s Truly Important
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/22/2010 11:42:33 AM

I received a very special email this week, and it is a terrific reminder of the strong ties between school activities and our communities, and what we can all do for each other. Through the swirl of fall state tournaments that will soon be upon us, this is a good time to reflect on the importance of being there for each other.

Merle Sveen, the head football coach at Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton, wrote an article for the school district newsletter about how his players pitched in to help after Teresa Roberts, a longtime school staff member, passed away in August at the age of 47. J-W-P principal/activities director Michael Meihak passed it along to me.

The article speaks for itself. Here it is …

There was a very famous football coach who once said, “Winning is not everything; it’s the only thing!” That coach was Vince Lombardi, and as hard as it is for me to admit, he was wrong.

This fall we were all faced with a huge loss when Teresa Roberts passed away. We not only lost a co-worker, but a great member of our community as well. I have had the privilege of coaching Teresa’s two sons in football and track, so when I heard the news of her death, I felt our JWP football team needed to do something for her family.

After talking with my captains, we came up with the idea of having a servant auction. When we took this idea back to the team, they agreed it was a good idea. We put four different servant packages on her benefit auction and raised almost $400 for her family. That was a fantastic feeling for our football team.

Fulfilling those contracts was the tough part. After having our first scheduled work weekend canceled due to the 10 inches of rain we received, we were finally able to spend a day at Dr. Pope’s residence loading up firewood for a previous JWP football coach. We had a fun day and were even treated to a great meal for lunch.

Last weekend I took 10 more workers all the way to Morristown to work at Teresa’s sister’s cabin. There we moved 60 pounds of blocks and loaded them onto pallets.

We also dug a trench along the house to help fix a leak. Finally, we dug a fire pit, raked their lawn, and bagged up all the leaves.

Once again, we were treated to lunch. As I sat around and listened to everyone talk, I heard lots of comments that made me feel proud. I heard heartfelt appreciation expressed from those we helped. From my football players the comments ranged from “That was fun” to “I am sure glad we could help them” and “We should do this more often!”

In a football season where wins haven’t come easily, I have to say we are learning important things every day. We have an exceptional group of young men with whom I am proud to be associated. As far as winning being everything, I believe lessons like this will be the more valuable ones in life.

Coach Merle Sveen

A Sea Change In 2A Girls’ True Team Swimming and Diving
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/22/2010 12:40:03 AM

Before this year, six Class 2A state True Team girls’ swimming and diving meets had been held. Stillwater had won them all and the Ponies almost ran their streak to seven on Thursday night at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center.

But Wayzata, which had finished second twice and third twice, surged in the late events to claim the state title. Wayzata had 2,339 points, followed in the top five among 12 teams by Stillwater at 2,310, Edina at 1,915.5, Maple Grove at 1,661 and Mounds View at 1,428.

Hannah Bowen had the only first-place finishes for Stillwater, capturing the 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle. Wayzata won four events, including the 200 freestyle relay and 400 freestyle relay. Edina also won four events.

Wayzata and Stillwater both broke the meet record for most points. The Ponies had held the previous record of 2,270, set last year.

The Class 1A True Team meet will be held Friday at the U of M, beginning at 7 p.m.

To see a photo gallery from the 2A competition, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 82
*Miles John has driven: 4,073

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

The Big Game Measures Up To All Expectations
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/21/2010 12:42:46 AM

One of the oddest regular seasons in Minnesota high school football history – especially for the five teams in the Lake Conference -- came to a close Wednesday night. The marquee game in the state was No. 1 Eden Prairie at No. 2 Wayzata in a matchup of unbeaten Class 5A powerhouses, but the back story was how they got here … through Canada and a season overflowing with bye weeks.

Eden Prairie opened the season by taking a long bus ride, splitting into two squads and beating two teams from Winnipeg on the same day. The Eagles didn’t play a conference opponent until their fifth game. But at least they played eight games.

Wayzata was supposed to play seven games in the regular season but that total fell to six when a school from Florida – yes, Wayzata was supposed to play a home game against a team from Florida -- disbanded its football team during the season. Before Wednesday the Trojans had played just once since Sept. 24. That’s one game – a 15-14 victory at Minnetonka on Oct. 8 -- in 26 days.

Wednesday's game decided the Lake Conference title. The stakes were a little higher the last time Wayzata and Eden Prairie had met on the football field. The Eagles recorded a 7-3 victory over the Trojans at the Metrodome in the state quarterfinals last season. Eden Prairie’s season ended with a 16-5 loss to Cretin-Derham Hall in the Prep Bowl.

Which takes us to the actual playing of Wednesday’s game. The scene at Wayzata was exactly what you would expect: a full house, pregame excitement and four quarters -- plus a little overtime -- of hard-hitting, hard-running football. Wayzata came away with a 28-27 victory when Eden Prairie misfired on an extra-point play in overtime. The Eagles lined up in kicking formation, but the play was supposed to be a pass for two points and the win. Unfortunately for the Eagles, the Wayzata rush was strong, the timing was imperfect and the play never got off the ground.

That’s when bedlam took over for the Wayzata players and their fans. There was a wild celebration, as befitting a game between the two powers. The only bigger celebration one could imagine could come after the state championship game at the Metrodome …which could conceivably be a rematch between Wayzata and Eden Prairie.

Wayzata’s Sasha Doran threw three TD passes, two to Tanner Helgren and one to Aaron Roth. Stephen Hari had three rushing touchdowns for the Eagles.

Wednesday’s game was filled with memorable moments. Some of them took place on the field, such as the game’s final play. But the sights and sounds come from all over on such evenings, and here are a few things I scribbled in my notebook during the game …

--The words of a Wayzata assistant coach, talking to the offensive linemen during pregame warm-ups: “If they push us back, we’re in for a long night.”

--The Wayzata students dressed in red, which seemed a little odd. Wayzata’s colors are blue and gold; Eden Prairie’s are red and black. But the red was a show of solidarity with Wayzata senior captain John Petrie. He is the youngest of three Petrie brothers to play football at Wayzata and his father, Bob, is dealing with health issues. So the students wore red and many of the Trojans players wore red wristbands and had red tape on their shoes and ankles.

--“Hey John, you want some Hot Tamales?” This offer came from Kevin Lynch, former NBA player and current Timberwolves radio analyst. Kevin, who played football as well as basketball at Bloomington Jefferson, watched the game from the sidelines. Thank goodness for his Hot Tamales, too. They hit the spot on a cold night.

--As the halftime marching band show wound down, Wayzata coach Brad Anderson walked up to me on the sideline with a big grin on his face. Most coaches are so intense at these times that smiling and joking would make you think they had gone off the deep end. But not Brad. He joked about how he thought halftime was supposed to be 15 minutes long but the band decided to perform for 20 minutes. I figured he should interrupt the next band concert by diagramming some football plays.

--Neil Diamond would have enjoyed the Wayzata fans’ response to the Trojans’ third touchdown. After Doran threw a 15-yard pass to Helgren to put the Trojans ahead 21-14 with 4:12 left in regulation, the band struck up “Sweet Caroline” and everybody on the home side of the field sang along … even while the Trojans were kicking off and the Eagles were returning the kick.

--After the game ended and things were calming down, two young ladies found Brad Anderson on the field and hugged him. They were his daughters Barrett, a senior at Wayzata, and Isabelle, a sophomore. I chatted with them briefly and learned that Barrett is interested in a journalism career. Good deal.

--My final act of the night was a little, uh, awkward. Before I walked to my car I knew I should make a pit stop. So I opened the door of a porta-potty … only to see a lady using the facility. Hey lady … lock the door. Please? Geez …

To see a photo gallery and video from the game, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 70
*Miles John has driven: 4,026

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Nicollet Is New No. 1 Team In Nine-Man Football
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/20/2010 4:12:39 PM

Here are this week's rankings as we enter the final phase of the regular season.

The only change at No. 1 is in Nine-Man, where Nicollet is the new top team. They replace former No. 1 Stephen-Argyle, which lost to Goodridge-Grygla last week. G-G isNo. 2 this week.

1 (1) Eden Prairie (7-0)

2 (2) Wayzata (5-0)

3 (5) Blaine (7-0)

4 (4) Rosemount (7-0)

5 (7) Cretin-Derham Hall (6-1)

6 (6) Stillwater Area (6-1)

7 (8) Brainerd (7-0)

8 (3) Mounds View (6-1)

9 (9) Rochester Century (7-0)

10 (10) Shakopee (7-0)

Others receiving votes: None


1 (1) St. Thomas Academy (7-0)

2 (2) Mankato West (7-0)

3 (3) Rogers (7-0)

4 (6) South St. Paul (7-0)

5 (5) Totino-Grace (6-1)

6 (9) Becker (6-1)

7 (7) Sartell-St. Stephen (6-1)

7 (8) St. Paul Central (7-0)

9 (4) Mahtomedi (5-2)

10 (10) Bemidji (6-1)

Others receiving votes: Northfield, Delano

1 (1) Albany (7-0)

2 (2) Rochester Lourdes (7-0)

3 (7) Dassel-Cokato (6-1)

4 (5) New London-Spicer (6-1)

5 (6) Holy Family Catholic (7-0)

6 (8) DeLaSalle (6-1)

7 (9) Virginia (7-0)

8 (10) Pine City (7-0)

9 (3) Glencoe-Silver Lake (5-2)

10 (4) Norwood-Young America (6-1)

Others receiving votes: Pequot Lakes, St. Anthony, Fairmont

1 (1) Waterville-Elysian-Morristown (7-0)

2 (2) Eden Valley-Watkins (7-0)

3 (4) Moose Lake-Willow River (7-0)
4 (5) Caledonia (7-0)

5 (6) Breckenridge (7-0)

6 (7) Triton (7-0)

7 (8) Ottertail Central (7-0)

8 (3) Luverne (6-1)

9 (9) Jackson County Central (6-1)
10 (10) Pierz (6-1)

Others receiving votes: Tracy-Milroy-Balaton, Braham

1 (1) Barnesville (7-0)

1 (2) Springfield (7-0)

3 (3) Browerville (7-0)

3 (4) Mahnomen (7-0)

5 (5) Minneota (6-1)

6 (8) Dawson-Boyd (7-1)

7 (6) New Ulm Cathedral (6-1)

8 (T10) East Central (6-1)

8 (T10) Blooming Prairie (5-2)

10 (NR) Cedar Mountain/Comfrey (6-1)

Others receiving votes: Le Center, Red Lake County, Warren-Alvarado-Oslo, Barnum

1 (3) Nicollet (7-0)

2 (5) Goodridge-Grygla (8-0)

3 (4) Edgerton/Ellsworth (7-0)

4 (6) McGregor (7-0)

5 (1) Stephen-Argyle (7-1)

6 (7) Wheaton (7-0)

7 (9) Ada-Borup (6-1)

8 (2) Grand Meadow (6-1)

9 (NR) Cook (7-1)

10 (NR) Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley (6-1)

Others receiving votes: Lanesboro, Spring Grove, Isle, Littlefork-Big Falls, Hillcrest Lutheran

A Look At Football’s Week 8 Big Games
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/19/2010 9:50:48 AM

This is the annual odd week for high school football in Minnesota. Since most districts do not have school on Thursday and Friday due to Education Minnesota’s professional conference, games will be played Wednesday as the regular season ends and teams prepare for the postseason.

The regular season always goes by quickly, and that has certainly been the case this fall. Since the opening games on Sept. 2, one of the major themes has been spectacular game-night weather. I have stood on the sidelines in the rain only once, for a Week 2 game between Mankato West and Owatonna. Other than that, the nights have been perfect for football.

Wednesday’s schedule is loaded with games that will impact how teams are seeded for the upcoming section playoffs. Many of the 34 remaining unbeaten teams are facing what appear to be overmatched opponents this week, but a few of them are staring into what could become their first loss of 2010.

There is only one head-to-head meeting between undefeated teams, and that game will receive more coverage than any other in the state this week. It will be the battle of Goliath vs. Goliath when Eden Prairie plays at Wayzata.

Here’s a quick rundown of the most intriguing matchups in each class this week …

Class 5A/Eden Prairie (7-0) at Wayzata (5-0)
This is a battle of the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in this class. They could meet once more in the Prep Bowl, which would surprise very few people. Both Lake Conference teams had major problems in filling their schedules. Eden Prairie played two games in Winnipeg on the same day and Wayzata had two byes, including last week. Will that extra week of rest and preparation (the Wayzata players were able to scout Eden Prairie in person last week) make a difference?

Class 4A/St. Paul Central (7-0) vs. Minneapolis Washburn (5-2)
This is the annual Twin Cities championship game, pitting the top teams from the St. Paul and Minneapolis City Conferences. Central is in tough Section 4 in 4A along with Mahtomedi, while Washburn is jostling with Waseca for the top seed in 3A Section 2. So this game is for double bragging rights.

Class 3A/Holy Family (7-0) vs. Norwood-Young America (6-1)
NYA’s perfect season was halted in a two-point loss to Mayer Lutheran last week but it can’t spoil the Raiders’ turnaround from a 1-7 season in 2009. This game will determine the champion of the Minnesota River Conference and have implications for Holy Family in Section 5 and NYA in 3.

Class 2A/Caledonia (7-0) vs. Southland (6-1)
After edging Plainview-Elgin-Millville in a Week 1 overtime game, Caledonia has not been tested. Southland has rolled past six opponents while falling to Lewiston-Altura 27-15 in Week 4. Both teams are 4-0 in Three Rivers Conference South play. Win or lose, Caledonia is probably the top seed in Section 1, while a win would be a big boost to Southland in Section 2 seeding.

Class 1A/New Ulm Cathedral (6-1) at Cedar Mountain-Comfrey (6-1)
Cathedral has won six in a row after losing to Springfield in Week 1. Cedar Mountain-Comfrey also lost only to Springfield (7-0), coming in Week 3. Those three teams and Le Center (6-1) are fighting for seeding position in the Section 2 playoffs.

Nine-Man/Littlefork-Big Falls (6-1) vs. Mountain Iron-Buhl (5-1)
Littlefork-Big Falls was sailing until losing at McGregor last week. MI-B’s only loss was to Floodwood in Week 4. These two and Cook are jostling for playoff position in Section 7.

There also will be some Nine-Man playoff games on Saturday. One place to keep an eye on is Section 8. The top seed is unbeaten Goodridge-Grygla, which earned that spot by handing defending state champion Stephen-Argyle its first loss on Saturday by a score of 39-14. They are the top two seeds in Section 8.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 68
*Miles John has driven: 3,996

Lakeville North, Jackson, Minneota Top Final Volleyball Polls
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/18/2010 1:23:15 PM

Tournament time is nearing, and here are the final volleyball rankings of the season.

Lakeville North, Jackson County Central and Minneota are the leaders in each class.

1. Lakeville North (12) 180
2. Wayzata 168
3. Bloomington Jefferson 152
4. Eastview 144
5. Apple Valley 99
6. Eden Prairie 97
7. Centennial 95
Blaine 95
9. Shakopee 78
10. Lakeville South 75
Others: Waconia (40), East Ridge (36), Stillwater (10), Woodbury (8), Owatonna (7), Chaska (6), Northfield (4), Hill-Murray (3), Chanhassen (2), Rochester Mayo (1)

1. Jackson County Central (7) 119
2. Wadena-Deer Creek (1) 109
3. Hutchinson 106
4. Lesuer-Henderson 96
5. Belle Plaine 84
6. Jordan 81
7. Marshall 71
8. Stewartville 62
9. Delano 32
10. Visitation 24
Others: Kasson-Mantorville (20), Byron (18), Rocori (18), Esko (13), Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton (13), Caledonia (2), Sauk Center (1)

1. Minneota (7) 147
2. Bethlehem Academy (3) 142
3. Wabasha-Kellogg 131
4. Martin County West 117
5. Mayer Lutheran 99
6. Nevis 96
7. BBE 83
8. Windom 66
9. Win-E-Mac 58
Mabel-Canton 58
Others: Canby (30), Hancock (26), Heritage Academy (9), Ada-Borup (6), Upsala (4)

A Memory-Making Night At South St. Paul
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/16/2010 12:11:17 PM

Friday nights at South St. Paul’s Ettinger Field have always been special. The football stadium is an historical throwback, with bleachers that have been in place since they were built as a Works Progress Administration project in the 1930s and a playing surface nestled down inside a grassy bowl.

Before the South St. Paul Packers met Mahtomedi on Friday, South St. Paul native and highly decorated coach Paul Miller talked about the history of the place. The area was once a farming area known as “Swede Hollow,” said Miller, a former Packers head coach and current assistant who also has coached at Hamline, St. Olaf, Apple Valley, Burnsville and elsewhere.

So we began with history. Add to the mix a game that had major implications on the Classic Suburban Conference race as well as the upcoming Class 4A, Section 3 playoffs, and Friday was a recipe for wonderful memories. Sure enough, anybody who was at Ettinger Field on Friday will never forget it … for several reasons, including a power outage, another perfect night for football, a rock ‘em-sock ‘em back and forth game and the rise of a football program.

That program on the rise is South St. Paul. In the three seasons ending in 2008, the Packers had a combined record of 3-24. They went 7-4 last season, lending credence to the efforts of head coach Chad Sexauer and his staff. Friday’s 28-17 victory over Mahtomedi moved the undefeated Packers up another level, marking them as a team to be reckoned with in the conversation of 4A state championship contenders.

THE PACKERS’ STARS were many. Junior running back Sam Sura had already made headlines while piling up yards this season, and Friday he rushed 39 times for 210 yards, giving him 1,363 yards in seven games. Mahtomedi’s Brenton Braddock, another 1,000-yard rusher, was injured in the first half and did not return, which surely put a dent in the hopes of the Zephyrs, who lost for the second time this year.

Two other South St. Paul juniors also had big nights: Reid Bjorklund intercepted two passes, returning one for a touchdown, and quarterback Harrison Rund ran for two TDs.

Rund, who played tailback a year ago, moved to quarterback when expected returning starter Adam Wilcox – who has committed to play hockey for the University of Minnesota – departed to play junior hockey. Rund adds an extra dimension to Sura’s pounding runs behind a big, mobile offensive line.

“We asked Harrison to step into a difficult situation and he’s handled himself extremely, extremely well,” Sexauer said. “Tonight he came out and made a statement that we’re at least a two-headed monster.”

THE GAME STARTED 45 minutes late due to a power outage in the area around the school. And that delay only added to the memories. The South St. Paul pep band was in fabulous form, entertaining the big crowd throughout the delay. The school mascot -- a kid in a big red smiling steer costume -- is one of the best in Minnesota, and the steer added to the festive atmosphere even as darkness enveloped everything and everybody.

The only big downside to the power outage was that pregame Senior Night activities were cancelled and the seniors and their parents were not able to be introduced.

The teams waited inside the school, which might have been a positive for the Packers.

“It actually may have been kind of a good thing for us, to let us cool our nerves a little bit,” Sexauer said. “We were out in pregame, we were a little excited and a little animated. I think it gave us some time to relax and put us back into a regular focus.”

Mahtomedi led 17-6 at halftime behind two TD runs by Andrew Lindquist and a 31-yard field goal by Colin Johnson as the half ended. But all the scoring in the second half was by the Packers, with Rund getting two TDs and Jacob Schwantes scoring one.

After the game ended and the teams shook hands, the Packers gathered in front of those ancient bleachers – filled with the faithful – and everyone sang the school song in raucous celebration.

“This senior class, they were 0-9 as sophomores,” said Sexauer (pictured at right). “We’ve asked the world of them and they’ve kept producing. There’s a nice junior class that’s behind them and pushing, and the whole school is falling in with where these kids are. It’s nice community support, lots of enthusiasm.

“This is a game where we said if we want to be compared as a program to Mahtomedi and St. Thomas Academy and all those great schools, these are the types of games you’ve got to come out and play.”

They played, they won and anyone who was there will never forget it.

TO SEE A PHOTO gallery and video of the postgame celebration, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 64
*Miles John has driven: 3,968

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Coming Up: A Report On South St. Paul-Mahtomedi Football
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/16/2010 12:29:05 AM

The hour is late and the John’s Journal staff has voted to get some sleep after a long Friday capped off by a highly entertaining football game between Mahtomedi and South St. Paul. The unbeaten Packers rallied for a 28-17 victory in a game that began late due to a power outage but yet was filled with electric moments.

Check out the MSHSL Facebook page for lots of photos from the game and video of the Packers celebrating with their fans by singing the school song.

After some shut-eye has been achieved, a detailed account of the game will be produced by the J.J. staff and posted right here.

Lakeville North Volleyball: The Real Deal
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/14/2010 10:23:31 PM

Since the volleyball season began, I had heard great things about the team from Lakeville North. I finally saw the top-ranked Panthers play on Thursday evening, and they are everything I have heard and more. I watched them defeat eighth-ranked and visiting Shakopee 25-11, 25-19, 25-20 in an impressive performance over the three-time defending Class 3A state champions.

(To see video and photos from the match, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.)

The two big names for Lakeville North are the McNeil sisters. Kellie is a 5-foot-11 senior setter and Taylr (that is correct; Taylr with no ‘o’) is a 6-foot freshman hitter. Both sisters have committed to play volleyball at the University of Minnesota.

The only other seniors on the roster are 6-1 Paige Leclerc and 5-6 Whitney Abrahamson, so the Panthers are a young team but a powerhouse nonetheless. Kelly Nizzari and Nicole Latzig are tall juniors, 5-7 junior Jessica Wolff plays a key role, 5-10 freshmen Alyssa Goehner joins Taylr McNeil as a hitting force at the net and 5-4 freshman Abby Monson adds to a strong lineup.

Before Thursday’s match began, one veteran volleyball observer told me that North was a “once in a century team.” Someone else referred to the Panthers as “a dream team.” I believe it. They are quick, smart and powerful, all the ingredients that go into successful volleyball.

The volleyball postseason will begin soon, and Lakeville North will carry high expectations. The school (which was Lakeville High until Lakeville South opened in 2005) has never won a state volleyball title in 14 trips to state. The Panthers have been state runners-up five times, most recently in 2006. Coach Milan Mader is one of the legends of the game -- Thursday's victory was the 800th of his career; only Hibbing's Gail Nucech has more all-time volleyball victories in Minnesota -- and seeing him finally lead a team to a state championship would be a truly memorable moment.

But there’s a lot of volleyball to be played.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 62
*Miles John has driven: 3,930

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Student SID Program Is Up And Running
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/13/2010 1:50:18 PM

A photo of Brett Favre was being projected onto a screen in front of a classroom, which was overflowing with high school students. Chris Ison, a faculty member of the University of Minnesota School of Journalism and Mass Communications, was leading a discussion on journalism ethics.

If a high-profile personality like Favre is being accused of questionable off-the-field activities, is there a threshold for media reporting? Does the public have a right to know? Who might be harmed by the reporting? How does a reporter know what’s true and what’s not? These were the types of questions Ison, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and former colleague of mine at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, asked the students.

The session was part of the Minnesota High School Press Association’s annual convention, held Tuesday at the U of M’s Coffman Memorial Union. Approximately 550 students attended the convention, which featured sessions on topics ranging from interviewing to photos to diversity to online trends to story ideas to graphics and beyond. The day’s keynote speaker was WCCO-TV reporter/anchor Liz Collin, a native of Worthington, and the event was capped with an awards ceremony.

As someone who has been involved in journalism since I was a high school student, it was heartening to see so many students so enthused about this profession. And I was honored to meet many high school faculty members who advise their school’s yearbook, newspaper, magazine, broadcast and online staffs. These are talented, committed people.

When people ask me how I became interested in journalism, I tell them about Mrs. White. She was my high school English teacher and someone I admired very much. When I was in 10th grade, she said to me, “John, you’re on the football team and you like to write. Would you like to write the stories about the football games?” These stories appeared in the weekly newspaper in my little hometown on the prairie. I gave it a try, liked it a lot and here I am decades later, having written about everything from professional sports to youth sports and now working for the MSHSL.

In the spirit of educating and inspiring young journalists, we are proud to announce the official roll-out of our new MSHSL Student Sports Information Directors program. I have written about it previously here on John’s Journal, and now it has a place on our main web page (in case you missed it when you clicked on this page, look to the lower right corner, below the Facebook and Twitter links).

The Student SID program has been on my radar since the day I joined the MSHSL staff in March. All of us who have been fortunate enough to have mentors help us on our paths -- thank you, Mrs. White – feel a responsibility to do the same for others.

A few schools are ahead of the curve, thanks in part to having representatives on the MSHSL Board of Directors. Ada-Borup superintendent/principal Mike Kolness and Underwood principal John Hamann have been on the ground floor of the Student SID project, and their school’s students are doing a great job. You can see their work by clicking on the “Schools” link near the top left of this page and then clicking on Ada-Borup and Underwood.

More than 160 schools have received media credentials for use by their Student SIDs, and we expect them to dive right into the reporting and writing process. I have corresponded with administrators, teachers and students from many schools around Minnesota, and the excitement level is exceptional. We believe this program will provide opportunities for students to become involved in their schools, explore the world of journalism and improve their communication skills.

It’s a win-win-win.

Feel free to contact me with questions and comments about the Student SID program. My email address is at the top of this post.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 60
*Miles John has driven: 3,919

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Park Rapids' Schumacher On The Comeback Trail
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/12/2010 3:38:18 PM

John Schumacher, the activities director at Park Rapids High School and a member of the MSHSL Board of Directors, has undergone surgery for tonsil cancer and will soon begin radiation treatments.

The prognosis is positive, befitting John's larger-than-life personality. Here is a fine article about John, courtesy of Vance Carlson of the Park Rapids Enterprise ...

Park Rapids high school sporting events just weren’t the same for most of August and September.

It wasn’t tough to miss the reason why.

John Schumacher’s presence was missed at several athletic events at the beginning of the fall season. Since becoming the Panthers’ activities director, Schumacher has been a noticed fixture at every home event.

That changed this fall when Schumacher was diagnosed with cancer on his right tonsil. Fortunately, the prognosis for Schumacher to return to the sidelines is promising.

Last winter, Schumacher noticed a lump on the right side of his throat, but thought it was just an inflammation due to a cold.

The lump didn’t go away and on Aug. 5 Schumacher went in for an exam. Surgery was performed on Aug. 13 to remove a lymph node. Tests revealed Schumacher had squamous cell carcinoma cancer in his right tonsil.

Surgery was scheduled for Sept. 16 at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester to remove the tonsil and find the source of the cancer. During the five-hour surgery, 79 lymph nodes and the tonsil were removed. The tonsil proved to be the source of the cancer. The doctors called the surgery a success.

“The doctors said the cancer was very treatable and the success rate was very, very, very good,” said Schumacher. “The tonsil and lymph nodes were intact, which was great news. If they had burst open, it would have attacked my lungs. The cancer was confined to that area and the doctors feel they got it all.”

Schumacher was discharged from Mayo on Sept. 19 and has been recovering ever since. He had been working a little every day before starting back full time this past week. Once again, Schumacher has been a fixture at all home sporting events.

“The toughest thing has been that I can’t move at the speed I want,” said Schumacher, who has lost more than 20 pounds since the surgery. “I’m getting better every day. Last Thursday was the first time that I felt that I was back.”

Recovery will continue with radiation treatments five days a week for six weeks beginning Oct. 18. The doctors are confident that Schumacher will make a full recovery.

“Without the radiation treatment, there’s a 90 percent chance the cancer will come back. With the radiation, there’s only a 4 percent chance it will come back,” said Schumacher. “The administrative team, the coaches, the kids and the community have been so supportive. It means a lot that people took the time to send cards and e-mails and said they were praying for me. It was very special seeing how many people care for you. The outlook is great. We have a game plan and we’re going to attack it. When I was coaching, I always told the kids that you play the cards you’re dealt and you go after it and get the win. That’s what I’m going to do.”

More On Esko's Record-Setting Football Win
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/11/2010 4:22:45 PM

As mentioned earlier today on John's Journal, junior quarterback Max Reinertsen had a heck of a game Friday night against Deer River. Here's a detailed recap, written by Wes Vork of Northland Sports Online ...

A lot of different words have been used to describe Friday’s football game between Esko and Deer River, which the Eskomos won 63-49. The words Thrilling, Exciting, and Breathtaking, were tossed around just to name a few. Now you can add one more descriptive word to that list, record setting. The record for most points scored by both teams was broken and another was tied.

The previous record for combined points in a game was set back in 2000 by Champlin Park (61) and Elk River Area (50) with 111 total points. The Esko vs. Deer River game saw a total of 112 points scored.

Individually, junior quarterback Max Reinertsen (pictured) scored seven rushing touchdowns and passed for one more for a total of eight total touchdowns in a game. That tied a 44 year old record set by Jerry Simonson of Franklin (vs. Echo) in 1966. Simonson’s touchdowns were all rushing, putting him at the top of the rushing category also, while Reinertsen's seven rushing td’s places him in a five way tie for second on the single game rushing touchdown list.

Reinertsen also found his way into the third place spot in the record books with a total of 46 points scored in a single game, finishing just short of DeAngelo Brackins of International Falls. Brackins scored 50 points vs. Virginia in 2006. Simonson scored 49 in the 1966 game against Echo.

According to Howard Voigt, Director of Information for the Minnesota State High School League, who sought further clarification from the National Federation of State High School Associations; on a pass play that results in a touchdown, the passer is credited with a passing touchdown, the receiver is credited with a receiving touchdown, and both are credited with the yardage. However, only the receiver is credited with the points, so while Reinertsen was involved in 56 of the teams 63 total points, he is awarded 46 points.

For his part however, Reinertsen is quick to pass along the credit to his teammates. “I had so much nice blocking that it was easy for me to walk in. Deer River was running a 3-4 defense and we were optioning off the end. They (the defense) were really flowing, which allowed for cutbacks.” Reinertsen also talked about the effort of the entire team. “We got some great downfield blocking also; someone was always hustling and taking out the safety.”

Reinertsen finished the evening with 22 carries for 283 yards and seven rushing touchdowns. He was also 11 of 18 passing for 145 yards and a touchdown. In addition he ran for two 2-point conversions and passed for two more.

Ask about the performance, Reinertsen said he had no idea about setting any records. Actually he did not initially realize the amount of points he was involved in. “I wasn’t keeping score, I was trying to help my team win the football game, it wasn’t until after the game when a teammate mentioned that I had rushed for seven touchdowns.”

Esko Head Football Coach Bill Hudspith agreed with Reinertsen’s assessment, telling NSO. “I think that Friday night’s offensive display was both a tremendous individual effort and a tremendous team effort. We were able to run the ball and throw it. Most of Max’s runs were off option-type plays set up by the strong running of Anderson, Lonetto, and Tollerud." Hudspith was also pleased with his football club playing hard to the very end, adding. “Being able to keep up our “intensity” was another key to our success, both on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. For the game, the Eskomos were able to rack up 575 total yards in the win.

Reinertsen’s father Ric said the family was not aware of any record until they were contacted by Northland Sports Online. “We had not given it (single game records) a thought. I am very proud of my son, but what I am happiest about though is the points came within the flow of the game, rather than in a blowout. The team was in a shootout and needed all of them.”

Wes Vork can be reached at wes@northlandsportsonline.com

Elk River Gives Back With Football Food Drive
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/11/2010 1:48:43 PM

Elk River High School is giving back to the community and setting a great example for other schools by holding a food drive during this week’s home football game. It is Elk River’s second annual football food drive for a local charitable organization.

The Elks will play host to Buffalo on Friday night; the field is named after former athletic director Jerry Schempf and is affectionately known as “The Jerry.” Friday’s event is being billed as a “Pack The Jerry Food Drive for CAER (Community Aid Elk River).”

According to the CAER website (http://www.caerfoodshelf.org), “CAER is a non-profit, community-based Christian organization, whose mission is to provide food and referrals or limited financial support for basic necessities to people in our community. Our vision is that hunger is no longer a barrier to the health and well-being of people in our community.”

Football fans are being asked to bring donations of food to Friday’s game. Students bringing donations will be admitted for only $2 and all fans are encouraged to wear red. The event is sponsored by Elks Football, Elks Youth Football and CAER.

Many schools in Minnesota do great things to give back to the community. Congratulations to Elk River on this effort.

This Week's Volleyball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/11/2010 11:59:55 AM

1. Lakeville North (10) 164
2. Wayzata (1) 155
3. Bloomington Jefferson 130
4. Eastview 119
5. Apple Valley 117
6. Lakeville South 100
7. Blaine 82
8. Shakopee 78
9. Centennial 77
10. Eden Prairie 70
Others: Waconia (60), Stillwater (18), Cretin-Durham Hall (6), Woodbury (6), Hopkins (5), MN Southwest (4), Owatonna (2), Hill-Murray (1)

1. Jackson County Central (7) 133
2. Wadena-Deer Creek (2) 125
3. Hutchinson 115
4. Lesuer-Henderson 106
5. Jordan 89
6. Belle Plaine 85
7. Marshall 76
8. Stewartville 70
9. Rocori 57
10. Delano 26
Others: Kasson-Mantorville (24), Visitation (18), Sauk Center (14), Byron (13), Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton (11), Mora (9), Esko (3), Caledonia (1)

1. Minneota (8) 214
2. Bethlehem Academy (7) 213
3. Wabasha-Kellogg 191
4. Martin County West 153
5. Nevis 151
6. Mayer Lutheran 128
7. BBE 118
8. Windom 111
9. Canby 89
10. Mabel-Canton 82
Others: Win-E-Mac (67), Hancock (16), Ada-Borup (11), Deer River (8), Heritage Christian Academy (8), Bertha-Hewitt (6), Lake of the Woods (6), Sebeka (6), Cherry (1)

Esko QB Has A Hand In 52 Points
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/11/2010 11:19:07 AM

Esko junior quarterback Max Reinertsen had a game to remember Friday night, running for seven touchdowns, throwing for one and scoring a pair of two-point conversions. Do the math, and he had a hand in 52 points as the Eskomos defeated Deer River 63-49 in a Great Polar Alliance White game in Deer River.

Esko (4-2) scored 28 fourth-quarter points to rally for the victory. Reinertsen scored his final touchdown on a 53-yard run with 1:04 remaining.

Deer River (3-3) junior Damon Benham had a pretty memorable night, too, rushing 22 times for 196 yards, five touchdowns and a two-point conversion

MSBN Will Broadcast Adapted Soccer on Tuesday
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/11/2010 9:37:27 AM

If you haven't had a chance to watch adapted soccer, here's your chance ... and you don't even have to leave your computer.

A game Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. between the Dakota United and South Suburban teams in the PI (physically impaired) division will be broadcast live on the internet (and for free) at mnsportsnetwork.com (MSBN).

Having this game on MSBN is a great opportunity to increase awareness about adapted sports. The game will also be archived on mnsportsnetwork.com for later views.

Apple Valley Sets Boys' Soccer Record
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/9/2010 4:00:08 PM

The Apple Valley High School boys' soccer team closed the regular season with a 5-0 victory at Farmington on Saturday afternoon, but the bigger number from the game is 41.

That's how many consecutive games the Eagles have won, and that is a state record. They reached 40 in a row when they beat Eagan on Thursday.

Stillwater won 40 in a row from 1995 to 1997. Apple Valley is the defending Class 2A state champion and is ranked No. 1 in 2A. With Saturday's victory, they take a record of 17-0 into the upcoming postseason.

A photo gallery from today's game has been posted on the MSHSL Facebook page.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 60
*Miles John has driven: 3,919

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Then And Now: Rogers Football Has Come A Long Ways
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/9/2010 1:08:45 AM

I made a return visit to the Rogers High School football stadium Friday night. My first trip there was in 2003, when the school was brand new and the Royals faced Zimmerman in the first football game in school history.

My, how far the Royals have come.

Back in 2003, I watched the Royals practice before that inaugural game. The school had no seniors that first year and all the equipment was brand new. Part of the equation was introducing everybody. Both Rogers and Zimmerman were born of expansion in the Elk River district that year, and Marc Franz – who had been an Elk River assistant for 11 years -- has been the Rogers head coach since Day One.

After the Royals capped Homecoming week with a 53-26 victory over Becker on Friday, I asked Franz about getting from that first season in 2003 to now, when the Royals are undefeated and ranked sixth in Class 4A.

“It’s hard work and we don’t shy away from it,” the coach said. “We tell the kids that football is a hard-working game, it’s not one where you can show up and go through it half-heartedly. In today’s day and age, you’ve got to put the work in ahead of time, and these guys understand that. They’ve worked extremely hard the past couple of years and they know the work comes before the success.

“Each year it has grown and developed in pretty much every single aspect; the atmosphere at the games, the commitment of the players, the competitiveness of the program and everything. It’s been enjoyable just to watch the growth throughout the years. And there’s no one big thing if you look at what happened. Each year we did a little step, and it’s been rewarding just to see the constant growth.”

Thinking back to that first game in 2003, I remember a festive atmosphere and lots of excited people. That was exactly the scene Friday, as well. The weather was once again spectacular – 88 degrees at kickoff and 71 when the game ended – and the atmosphere was electric. There was an overflow crowd and the Rogers band, fans, cheerleaders and dance team kept the place humming.

Becker, which is now 5-1 and ranked fifth in 4A, scored 20 points in the first half. That was newsworthy, considering that Rogers came into the game with an average winning score of 47-1. The Royals began the season with four shutouts, beating Zimmerman 50-0, Elk River 55-0, Cambridge-Isanti 42-0 and St. Michael-Albertville 32-0 before finally giving up a touchdown last week in a 56-7 victory over Princeton.

So when the Bulldogs led 20-19 early in the second quarter, this was something new. But Rogers tightened up the defense and loosened up the offense in rolling to the 27-point win in the biggest game in the state Friday.

Becker and Rogers played twice last season, with the Royals winning both. They won 34-7 at Becker during the Mississippi 8 Conference season, and beat the Bulldogs again 38-0 at Rogers in the Section 5 semifinals. Rogers’ 2009 season ended in the state quarterfinals with a 56-14 loss to Totino-Grace.

The two teams know they are likely to meet again this season, as well, once the Section 5 playoffs roll around.



--Interstate 94 has become my arch enemy (highway division). My drive to Rogers, which is in the far northwest sector of the Twin Cities, was slowed by construction on I-94 in the Maple Grove area. That was nothing compared to the return trip after the game. With the highway squeezed down to one lane, it took me 45 minutes to go about five miles. Geez Louise.

--I had a minor emergency a few seconds before kickoff. Every time I have stood on the Becker sidelines before a game, someone on the coaching staff has handed me a piece of Bazooka Joe bubble gum. (It’s a Becker tradition.) As the teams lined up to begin the game, I found myself Bazooka Joe-less. I said to head coach Dwight Lundeen, possibly with a hint of panic in my voice, “Dwight, who’s got the gum?!” He smiled, reached into his pocket and pulled out four pieces of Bazooka Joe. Crisis averted.

--As has become customary this football season, the fantastic weather is not without a down side: mosquitoes. To quote Dean Wormer, I hate those guys.

--Everywhere I go, people ask me the same question, and that was the case at Rogers. From other media people to coaches, officials and fans, people ask: “How’s the job with the MSHSL going?’ And my answer is always the same: “Fantastic. I’m doing what I love to do … hanging out at high school events and having nothing but fun.” And that’s no lie.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 58
*Miles John has driven: 3,847

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Forest Lake Senior Hayden Lane, Take a Bow
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/7/2010 3:41:24 PM

Forest Lake activities director Joel Olson has gotten back to me with the name of the student who helped rescue some folks from an overturned vehicle earlier this week.

His name is Hayden Lane, and Hayden deserves our praise. Here's another look at the email sent by Joel earlier in the day ...


One of our football captains was on his way to school on Tuesday when he witnessed a very serious car accident. One car t-boned another and the car that was t-boned ended up spinning around and catching a wheel on the curb causing it to tip on its roof. Inside was a mom and I believe two children in car seats. Without concern for his own safety, he ran to the car and began to pry open the doors to get the family out. With the help of other good Samaritans, they were able to get the family to safety.

I am very proud of this young man and wanted you to know about another example of Minnesota's outstanding kids.

Joel Olson
Activities Director
Forest Lake High School

Zero Week Football Games Approved
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/7/2010 10:59:53 AM

The MSHSL Board of Directors has made a major change in the format of the football season, approving Zero Week games beginning in 2011. The action came during this morning’s board meeting.

Zero Week will allow teams to play their first game one week earlier than the traditional starting date. Teams would have to receive MSHSL approval before scheduling a Zero Week game. Teams that play Zero Week games will begin practice one week earlier than normal and have a bye week later in the season, with details about practice limitations during the bye week to be decided.

Here’s an example of how Zero Week will work: If Team A cannot find an opponent during Week 4 of the regular season and Team B cannot find an opponent during Week 5, they could agree to play each other during Zero Week, then seek approval from the MSHSL.

MSHSL associate director Kevin Merkle spoke at length to the board about football scheduling issues. It’s estimated that approximately 20 percent of high school football teams in Minnesota have problems in filling their schedules. Some schools have sought to find opponents from other states, but teams in some states have no open dates. During the recent area meetings, representatives of 252 schools responded to a questionnaire about Zero Week and other scheduling questions, and 211of the responses were positive about the flexibility Zero Week allows football teams.

Board member Mike Rusinko said, “I don’t have a problem with this solution, but it feels a little Band-Aidy to me.” That was followed by a discussion of larger issues concerning football scheduling.

A task force has studied the problem, resulting in several possible solutions. Under these scenarios, teams may play one or two games against non-section opponents, with the rest of the regular season consisting of games against section opponents. The postseason format could remain the same with all teams advancing to the section playoffs, or it could allow the top four teams from each section to advance. Under the second format, teams that did not qualify for the postseason would be allowed to schedule an additional game against another non-playoff team.

The meeting is continuing. Further updates will be posted as warranted …

*Schools/teams John has visited: 56
*Miles John has driven: 3,749

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

Board of Directors Update, But First …
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/7/2010 9:46:44 AM

Today’s MSHSL Board of Directors meeting has begun, but let’s start the day with a great little note about the good things that happen with our Minnesota kids. Here’s an email that arrived this morning:


One of our football captains was on his way to school on Tuesday when he witnessed a very serious car accident. One car t-boned another and the car that was t-boned ended up spinning around and catching a wheel on the curb causing it to tip on its roof. Inside was a mom and I believe two children in car seats. Without concern for his own safety, he ran to the car and began to pry open the doors to get the family out. With the help of other good Samaritans, they were able to get the family to safety.

I am very proud of this young man and wanted you to know about another example of Minnesota's outstanding kids.

Joel Olson
Activities Director
Forest Lake High School

Thanks Joel. (I’ve asked about the identity of this young man. As soon as I know his name, I’ll post it here.)

This Week's Football Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/7/2010 8:14:49 AM

1 (1) Eden Prairie (6-0)
2 (2) Cretin-Derham Hall (5-0)
3 (3) Wayzata (4-0)
4 (4) Mounds View (5-0)
5 (6) Rosemount (5-0)
6 (5) Blaine (5-0)
7 (7) Andover (5-0)
8 (9) Brainerd (5-0)
9 (10) Rochester Century (5-0)
10 (NR) Stillwater Area (4-1)
Others receiving votes: Shakopee, Edina, Eastview

1 (1) St. Thomas Academy (5-0)
2 (2) Mankato West (5-0)
3 (4) Rogers (5-0)
4 (3) Mahtomedi (4-1)
5 (5) Becker (5-0)
6 (6) Totino-Grace (4-1)
7 (7) South St. Paul (5-0)
8 (10) Sartell-St. Stephen (4-1)
9 (NR) St. Paul Central (5-0)
10 (NR) Bemidji (4-1)
Others receiving votes: Alexandria, Delano, Northfield, New Prague, Chisago Lakes, Grand Rapids, St. Michael-Albertville, Waconia

1 (1) Albany (5-0)
2 (2) Pequot Lakes (5-0)
3 (3) Rochester Lourdes (5-0)
4 (4) Glencoe-Silver Lake (4-1)
5 (5) Norwood-Young America (5-0)
6 (6) New London-Spicer (4-1)
7 (8) Holy Family Catholic (5-0)
8 (9) Dassel-Cokato (4-1)
9 (10) Virginia (5-0)
10 (NR) DeLaSalle (4-1)
Others receiving votes: Milaca, Pine City, Thief River Falls, Blue Earth, Sibley East

1 (1) Waterville-Elysian-Morristown (5-0)
2 (2) Eden Valley-Watkins (5-0)
3 (3) Luverne (5-0)
4 (4) Moose Lake-Willow River (5-0)
5 (5) Caledonia (5-0)
6 (7) Breckenridge (5-0)
7 (9) Triton (5-0)
8 (10) Ottertail Central (5-0)
9 (T8) Pierz (4-1)
10 (NR) Jackson County Central (4-1)
Others receiving votes: Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton, Maple Lake, Southland, Tracy-Milroy-Balaton, Braham, Lewiston-Altura, Hawley

1 (1) Minneota (5-0)
2 (2) Barnesville (5-0)
3 (3) Springfield (5-0)
4 (4) Mahnomen (5-0)
5 (5) Browerville (5-0)
6 (6) New Ulm Cathedral (4-1)
7 (7) Fosston (4-1)
8 (T10) Adrian (4-1)
9 (NR) East Central (4-1)
10 (NR) Blooming Prairie (3-2)
10 (NR) Le Center (4-1)
Others receiving votes: Dawson-Boyd, Cedar Mountain/Comfrey, Royalton, Red Lake County, Barnum

1 (1) Stephen-Argyle (5-0)
2 (3) Grand Meadow (5-0)
2 (2) Nicollet (5-0)
4 (4) Edgerton/Ellsworth (5-0)
5 (6) Goodridge-Grygla (5-0)
6 (7) McGregor (5-0)
7 (10) Wheaton (5-0)
8 (NR) Floodwood (5-0)
9 (8) Underwood (4-1)
10 (NR) Littlefork-Big Falls (5-0)
10 (NR) Spring Grove (5-0)
Others receiving votes: Hills-Beaver Creek, Ada-Borup, Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley, Hillcrest Lutheran

Board of Directors To Consider Zero Week For Football
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/6/2010 3:23:28 PM

The MSHSL Board of Directors will hold its October meeting Thursday at MSHSL headquarters in Brooklyn Center, and a possible change in the structure of the football season is on the agenda.

The board has previously discussed the addition of a Zero Week in football, which would allow teams to play their first game one week earlier than the traditional starting date. A task force has explored the Zero Week concept, and it has also been explained to school administrators statewide during the recent MSHSL area meetings.

Zero Week for football is listed as an Action Item on Thursday’s agenda. The board could vote to add a Zero Week (which would take effect in 2011), could vote down the addition of a Zero Week or make no decision.

Under the proposal, teams with football scheduling problems would have to receive MSHSL approval before scheduling a Zero Week game. Teams that played in Zero Week would begin practice one week earlier than normal and would take a week off from football practice (other than conditioning, weight lifting and other non-football-specific workouts) later in the season.

Here’s an example of how Zero Week might help teams: If Team A cannot find an opponent during Week 4 of the regular season and Team B cannot find an opponent during Week 5, they could agree to play each other during Zero Week.

The board meeting will begin at 9:30 a.m. Thursday. Check back here for updates during the meeting.

Park High School Announces Hall of Famers
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/6/2010 2:32:49 PM

This news comes to us from Park High School in Cottage Grove ...

Park High School is honored to announce the sixth class for induction in the Park High School Hall of Fame. These alumni are being recognized for this prestigious award because of their athletic excellence while representing Park High School. The coaches and community members are being honored for their commitment to the youth in our community and their dedication and support of Park athletics. The following are the individuals selected into the 2010 Hall of Fame:

Luke Appert (Class of ‘99): Luke was an all-state alpine skier as a sophomore and earned all-state honors in baseball his junior and senior years. He played baseball for the University of Minnesota, and was twice named Big Ten Player of the Year. He was drafted by the Oakland A’s and named Player of the Decade for the Gophers in 2010.

Michelle (Nelson) LeBow (Class of ‘87): Michelle was a 12-time letter winner in cross country, Nordic skiing and track. She earned All-State honors in track and went on to compete for St. Cloud State. She holds six school records at St. Cloud State and was inducted into their Hall of Fame in 2009.

Anton Modrynski (Class of ‘52): Tony played football, basketball, baseball, and tennis while at Park, earning a total of 12 letters. He played on Park’s first tennis team ever in 1950, and was a pitcher and catcher in baseball, leading his team to a 26-9 record over three years.

Patrick Waldner (Class of ‘46): “Bruno” participated in football, basketball, baseball, and track while at Park. He played football at Hamline and was inducted into their Hall of Fame. He went on to coach football at the high school, college, and professional levels and is also a member of the Minnesota Football Coaches Hall of Fame.

Charlie Whitbred (Class of ‘68/Coach): “Whit” is a Park legend, both as an athlete and as a coach. He was one of the greatest athletes in the history of Park, and went on to serve as a head coach in soccer, hockey, and softball. He coached softball at the school for 29 years, and during that time he compiled a record of 525 wins and 165 losses, which is the most wins ever by any Class AAA coach in the state.

The Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will be held Saturday, November 20, 2010 at 5:00 p.m. at Mississippi Dunes on Grey Cloud Island. For ticket information, call Activities Director Phil Kuemmel at 651/768-5720. Once again, congratulations to this year’s inductees. We look forward to honoring them in November.

47 Undefeated Football Teams ... But Not For Long
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/5/2010 3:13:59 PM

The following has been posted on the MSHSL Facebook page, kicking off a little discussion ... feel free to join in!

There are 47 unbeaten football teams in Minnesota as we enter Week 6. Three games this week pit 5-0 vs. 5-0: Becker at Rogers in Class 4A, and Spring Grove at Grand Meadow and Floodwood at McGregor in Nine-Man. What's the big game in your area?

The Daily Cookie Report ...
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/5/2010 10:13:11 AM

Hello from Brooklyn Park. Specifically, the John’s Journal staff has unloaded the bus and all the production vehicles at Edinburgh USA golf course, where the final fall area meeting is underway. This is stop No. 8 on the Magical Mystery Area Meeting Tour. We are in a ballroom at Edinburgh, and returning to a major topic from Monday’s report out of Rochester, let’s talk about cookies.

Here is an excerpt: “ … the cookies and coffee are going fast. If any cookies are left by the time the meeting ends, I will eat as many as I can during the ride back to the Twin Cities.”

This little statement resulted in a landslide of email responses … a landslide being two emails on the subject of cookies.

Email No. 1: “I was wondering why Dave doesn’t bring us back cookies any more from the Area Meetings.”

This was sent from an anonymous cookie lover at MSHSL World Headquarters, and it referred to Dave Stead not bringing leftover cookies back to the office from area meetings. The inference was that the John’s Journal staff was eating all the cookies. Truth in Cookies Fact: I ate as many as I could, but Dave was still able to cart a whole bunch of cookies back to World Headquarters.

Email No. 2: “I am planning on attending Tuesday's Area Meeting and hearing how the Student SID program is progressing. A word to the wise, you better get your cookies early!”

I will not identify the author of this email other than to say he or she is an administrator who is capable of composing and sending emails. When said person entered the meeting room at Edinburgh this morning, he or she grabbed my arm and said, “Where are the cookies?”

I broke the news: We have been provided with muffins instead of cookies. This is disappointing, since everybody knows that cookies are for breakfast and muffins are for lunch.

But the meeting continues (that's the meeting in the photo) and we are soldiering on …

Enjoy your Tuesday.

Underwood Volleyball Coach Gets 500th Win; This Week’s Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/4/2010 11:06:40 AM

Diane Ross, the volleyball coach at Underwood, recorded her 500th career victory last week. According to the Minnesota Volleyball Coaches Association website, Ross is the 12th member of the 500-win club.

Underwood will take a 2010 record of 12-2 into a Monday night match with Henning. Ross’ all-time mark is 500-215.

Ross, a graduate of Windom High School, previously coached at Bird Island-Lake Lillian, which became BOLD in 1990; her record there was 209-102. She has been at Underwood since 1997, where her teams have gone 281-111. Ross has coached seven conference championship teams, seven sub-section champions and five section champions. Her 1997 and 2003 Underwood teams placed fourth at the state tournament.

And now, here are this week’s volleyball rankings …

1. Lakeville North (9) 135
2. Wayzata 126
3. Bloomington Jefferson 117
4. Blaine 102
5. Eastview 84
6. Apple Valley 79
7. Lakeville South 75
8. Waconia 66
9. Eden Prairie 60
10. Shakopee 58
Others: Centennial (33), Hill-Murray (11), Cretin-Durham Hall (9), Stillwater (9), Hopkins (4)

1. Jackson County Central (5) 89
2. Wadena-Deer Creek (1) 85
3. Hutchinson 73
4. Lesuer-Henderson 72
5. Belle Plaine 62
6. Jordan 59
7. Stewartville 56
8. Marshall 49
9. Rocori 30
10. Delano 14
Others: Byron (12), Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton (8), Kasson-Mantorville (7), Caledonia (6), Minnehaha (5),

1. Minneota (8) 176
2. Bethlehem Academy (4) 171
3. Wabasha-Kellogg 143
4. Martin County West 122
5. Nevis 119
6. Mayer Lutheran 116
7. Canby 107
8. BBE 91
9. Windom 76
10. Win-E-Mac 72
Others: Mabel-Canton (60), Hancock (14), Lake of the Woods (11), Deer River (6), GFW (6), Sebeka (4), Heritage Christian (3), Nicollet (3), Bertha-Hewitt (2), Cherry (1)

Good Morning From Beautiful Rochester
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/4/2010 9:38:46 AM

The MSHSL staff (or at least part of the staff: Dave Stead, Kevin Merkle and the John’s Journal contingent) are in Rochester on this lovely Monday morning for the seventh in a series of eight fall area meetings.

We have already been to St. Cloud, Marshall, Mankato, Fergus Falls, Thief River Falls and Chisholm, and the final area meeting of the fall will be held Tuesday at Edinburgh USA in Brooklyn Park. Each school sends an administrator to one of the area meetings, which provide strong face-to-face communication between the MSHSL and member schools.

Today’s meeting is being held at the Clarion Inn in Rochester, and the room is overflowing. I count 70 heads in the room, and the cookies and coffee are going fast. If any cookies are left by the time the meeting ends, I will eat as many as I can during the ride back to the Twin Cities.

The agenda is the same for each meeting. There are 21 items on the agenda, including financial information, rules and bylaws, concussion education, eligibility and many others. I speak to the groups about things like John’s Journal, Facebook, Twitter and the new Student Sports Information Directors program. I also distribute Student SID media credentials to any school that wants to have them.

Dave is speaking to the group (see photo) as I write this from a table in the back of the room. I better wrap this up, since I’m up to bat shortly.

Have a great Monday.

Another Glorious Night For Football; Just Ask The Rosemount Irish
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/1/2010 11:04:50 PM

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.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 56
*Miles John has driven: 3,749

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn

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