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St. Thomas Academy, Albany New No. 1 Teams in Football Polls
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/30/2010 1:36:52 PM

Two new teams have risen to the top in this week's Associated Press football rankings.

In Class 4A, St. Thomas Academy rose from No. 2 to No. 1 after former No. 1 Totino-Grace lost to Mahtomedi last week. This week, Mahtomedi is No. 3 and Totino-Grace is No. 6.

In 3A, Albany is the new No. 1 team after defeating then-No. 1 New London-Spicer. NL-S is No. 6 this week.

The No. 1 teams are unchanged in the remaining classes: Eden Prairie in 5A, Waterville-Elysian-Morristown in 2A, Minneota in 1A and Stephen-Argyle in Nine-Man.

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

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

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

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

1 (1) Minneota (4-0)
2 (3) Barnesville (4-0)
3 (4) Springfield (4-0)
4 (5) Mahnomen (4-0)
5 (6) Browerville (4-0)
6 (9) New Ulm Cathedral (3-1)
7 (2) Fosston (3-1)
8 (T10) Royalton (3-1)
9 (T10) Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City (3-1)
10 (NR) Adrian (3-1)
10 (NR) Canby (2-2)
Others receiving votes: Blooming Prairie, Le Center, East Central, Fillmore Central, Barnum

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

This Is What It's All About: Congrats To BOLD And Benson!
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/29/2010 7:18:44 PM

Here's a news item (via an email) that is just too good to keep to myself. Read and enjoy...

Hi John,

I want to share with you the incredible school spirit and sportsmanship that BOLD High School displayed last night at Benson High School during our volleyball match. First, BOLD brought a fan bus from Olivia to Benson (57 miles) on a Tuesday evening for a regular-season match. Both Benson and BOLD were unbeaten in conference play before last night’s game.

BOLD’s student section did not sit down during the entire match, and they had orchestrated cheers all night. The atmosphere was electric. Our student section began standing and answering with cheers of our own.

I have been the activities director for six years at Benson and have coached and taught here for 20 years. Our gym has never been so loud and positive!! BOLD’s activities director, Melissa Sagedahl, rode the fan bus with the students to Benson and back to Olivia!

Congratulations to BOLD’s fans and student body in making our match a great event for everyone!!

All I wanted to do is contact you at the MSHSL office and let you know how good things can really be at MSHSL events! Thanks for your time and have a great day!

Mike Knutson
Benson Activities Director

A Very Special Cause in Northfield
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/27/2010 9:29:34 PM

There’s a great story taking shape in Northfield, which should help add some positives to a town that’s been hit hard by recent floods.

The Northfield High School sports teams, from grades 9 through 12, are banding together to fight breast cancer. And they are asking the community to join them in this noble cause. October is breast cancer awareness month, which is where the story begins.

The Raiders boys’ and girls’ soccer teams will play host to Farmington on Thursday night, with the boys playing at 5 p.m. and the girls at 7 p.m. Back in the spring, the Northfield girls’ team began talking about ways to do some fundraising for breast cancer research. As coach Troy Cohrs described the process, “We started with a small idea in May, and in August they came up with a bunch of ideas. They started with what we thought was one small idea and the girls have just been running with it. It’s been amazing.”

Here’s the plan in brief: The public is being asked to sponsor every Northfield athlete during October. For each $5 donation, one athlete will wear pink shoelaces for the month. Five dollars might not sound like much, but if every one of the approximately 500 athletes ends up with pink laces, that means $2,500 will have been raised.

Thursday’s soccer doubleheader is the campaign’s kickoff event. “We’re trying to fill the stands and have everybody wear pink,” Cohrs said. Donations also will be accepted at the games.

Northfield and Farmington -- both schools are members the Missota Conference – will face off in several sports during October. And Farmington has joined in the efforts, too. If Northfield reaches its goal of 500 sponsored athletes, the Farmington Tigers will also wear pink shoelaces and help raise money.

“Our team wants to do something to make a positive difference,” Northfield athletic director Tom Graupmann said. “I'm really proud of them.”

Wayzata Moves To The Top Of 3A Volleyball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/27/2010 5:55:14 PM

This is no surprise, considering that Wayzata defeated top-ranked Lakeville North on Saturday in the championship match of the Apple Valley Eagle Invitational. But now it's official: Wayzata has moved from No. 2 to No. 1 in the Class 3A volleyball rankings.

The top teams in 2A (Jackson County Central) and 1A (Minneota) maintained their positions.

1. Wayzata (11) 220
2. Lakeville North (4) 214
3. Bloomingon Jefferson 194
4. Blaine 148
5. Eastview 147
6. Lakeville South 144
7. Apple Valley 139
8. Shakopee 108
9. Waconia 105
10. Eden Prairie 81
Others: Centennial (49), Hill-Murray (14), Cretin-Durham Hall (13), Stillwater (13), Andover (6)

1. Jackson County Central (10) 164
2. Wadena-Deer Creek (1) 152
3. Lesuer-Henderson 138
4. Hutchinson 126
5. Jordan 123
6. Stewartville 100
7. Marshall 96
8. Belle Plaine 95
9. Delano 63
10. Rocori 33
Others: Byron (14), Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton (7), Kasson-Mantorville (7), Hibbing (6), Visitation (6), Sauk Center (6), Caledonia (6), Minnehaha (6),

1. Minneota (9) 177
2. Bethlehem Academy (3) 171
3. Wabasha-Kellogg 153
4. Martin County West 134
5. Mayer Lutheran 124
6. Nevis 114
7. BBE 98
8. Canby 91
9. Windom 82
10. Win-E-Mac 68
Others: Mabel-Canton (51), Kingsland (8), Deer River (6), Lake of the Woods (6), Sebeka (5), Heritage Christian (4)

Pipestone, Luverne And The Battle For The Axe
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/25/2010 4:05:55 PM

Todd Oye grew up on a farm near the little southwestern Minnesota hamlet of Hardwick. He attended high school a few miles south in Luverne, where he now is the head football coach and athletic director. Had Oye grown up across the road, he would have gone to school a few miles north and become a Pipestone Arrow instead of a Luverne Cardinal.

An hour or so before kickoff Friday night, Oye chuckled at the randomness of it all. He was standing outside a locker room at Pipestone High School, where the Battle Axe was on the line once more. It’s been this way since 1958, when the two schools began playing for an axe with a head painted Luverne red on one side and Pipestone green on the other. The axe handle carries the same words on each side, again painted in the school colors: The Old Battle Axe.

It might be the best traveling trophy in Minnesota high school football, and this is surely one of the best rivalries. (In this postgame photo, Luverne senior Britton Stratton holds the Axe.)

“It’s a big thing for both communities,” said Pipestone coach Troy Bouman. “It’s always been a big rivalry. It never matters who’s really good and who’s not; the game’s always close.”

The 53rd annual Battle Axe game fit the mold perfectly. On the fifth play of the game, Luverne quarterback Brett Heronimus pitched the ball to Hayden Bauman and Bauman did the rest. He got to the edge, turned down the left sideline and ran 56 yards into the end zone. The defenses took over after that and the Cardinals went home with a 7-0 victory and the Battle Axe.

Luverne is 4-0 and ranked third in Class 2A. The Arrows are 1-3, having been shut out in all three defeats. But when the Battle Axe is on the line, no such facts matter. This is a rivalry, and it means everything.

“I think this shows you that it doesn’t matter what the expectations of the season are for either team going in,” Oye said. “In a rivalry game like this, you see an unbelievable effort. The Pipestone kids played like it was a state championship game.”

The postgame moods were a contrast, but not exactly what you might expect. The Cardinals held up the Axe as their fans roared and cameras flashed, but the players and coaches were not very satisfied with how they performed. Outside the postgame locker room, the words “watching film” were not met with much excitement.

Meanwhile, the Arrows kneeled in an end zone with their heads down as the coach did everything he could to try and keep their chins up.

“If we play the rest of the season like we did tonight, we’re going to win some football games, especially in the postseason,” Bouman said.

FRIDAY’S GAME WAS my longest jaunt of the school year so far. I left home at 10 a.m., detoured around flooded roads and arrived in Pipestone during the homecoming pep fest shortly before the school day ended at 3:15. I headed for home at 9:30 p.m. and pulled into my driveway a little before 2 a.m. And every one of Friday’s 500-plus miles was well worth it.

It was a wild day, but that statement goes far beyond football and historic trophies. The school in Luverne was evacuated at mid-day because of a bomb threat. After leaving the building, Oye realized that the Battle Axe was still inside, so he quietly returned and grabbed it. The Axe itself has three additional components: a piece of log in which the Axe is lodged for display, plus two small wooden structures which carry engraved plates with the score of every game.

The freshmen and sophomore football teams from Pipestone and Luverne also play for trophies. The freshmen have the Butter Knife and the sophomores play for the Hatchet. The Butter Knife? How much fun is that?

PIPESTONE’S PAULSEN Field is a true showplace. The stadium is surrounded by pine trees and flanked on the ends by two pieces of modern technology. A mammoth wind turbine spins beyond the north end zone, and the best high school football scoreboard I have seen is positioned beyond the south end zone. The board includes a digital message board that carries photos, logos and just about anything anyone would want to see. As in all proud communities, fundraising makes such things happen in Pipestone, and the Pipestone Area Community Foundation secured the funds for the scoreboard.

Another sign of community pride took place Saturday evening at Pipestone High School when the newest class of inductees became members of the Pipestone-Jasper Athletic Hall of Fame.

MY PREGAME MEAL was a fabulous pork burger, cooked at the football field and consumed at a picnic table while the teams warmed up. I sat for dinner with my host, Pipestone athletic director Bob Nangle. Bob is a legend not only in southwestern Minnesota but across the state. Bob also coaches boys’ and girls’ cross-country, and his track/cross-country credentials are hard to beat. His resume also includes coaching football, basketball and wrestling, and he has been the athletic director at Pipestone since 1973.

At halftime Friday, the homecoming royalty was introduced, a 50-50 raffle was held and the Pipestone Marching Arrows performed. Since the field was still wet from the week’s rainfall, the Marching Arrows temporarily became the Standing Arrows, performing in front of the home bleachers. They sounded great.

IF TROY BOUMAN’S name rings a bell, it might be because he is the brother of former Vikings quarterback Todd Bouman. Todd was a volunteer assistant coach for the Arrows until early last week, when the Jacksonville Jaguars called in need of a backup quarterback. The Bouman boys are from Russell-Tyler-Ruthton. Since 1997, Todd, 38, has played for the Vikings, Saints, Packers, Rams, Ravens and Jaguars.

At the end of the game as players, families, fans and friends milled around the field, Troy Bouman -- who had shared a postgame handshake and a few kind words with Todd Oye -- talked about what’s really important in all this.

“We lost 7-0 to the No. 3-ranked team in the state and there’s nothing we can hang our heads about,” he said. “You can see the rivalry; everybody’s playing hard on every play. And the coaching staffs and the kids really do get along. It’s just a great, great rivalry.”


*Schools/teams John has visited: 48
*Miles John has driven: 2,997

--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

Belle Plaine’s Wolpern: Young, Homegrown Coach With Great Credentials
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/23/2010 11:18:08 PM

Cassie Wolpern is one of the youngest head coaches in Minnesota, and she’s also one of the most recognizable names in her sport.

Wolpern, 25, is the first-year volleyball coach at Belle Plaine, where she became a national volleyball figure before graduating in 2003. She was a four-time all-state selection and during her senior season she became the all-time national leader in career kills with 2,638; today she ranks fifth on that list. She holds the Minnesota prep record for career kills, as well as the single-season records for kills and blocks.

And now she’s back at her high school, running the show.

“It’s taking a lot out of me,” Wolpern said with a laugh early this week. “We’re 5-5 (7-5 after beating Norwood-Young America 3-1 on Thursday), and three of those losses were in the last game by two points. The emotional part of it has been tiring. But it’s a really, really good group of girls.”

Among that group is Wolpern’s kid sister (and only sibling), junior Abby Wolpern, a 6-foot middle hitter. The roster also includes sophomore setter/ hitter Haley Fogarty (who is the Wolperns’ first cousin) and sisters Kirsten Johnson and Sam Johnson.

“It’s a big family affair,” Cassie said.

Wolpern played one season at the University of San Diego before transferring to Minnesota State Mankato, where she graduated with a degree in finance. She began coaching Junior Olympic volleyball in Belle Plaine when the current juniors and seniors were in eighth grade.

She spent the past three years working as a volunteer assistant coach for Belle Plaine head coach Rich Foust. After last season, Foust wanted to have more time for his family. “Rich came to me and said, ‘I’m only going to give it up if you’re interested,’ ” Wolpern said. She took over this season for Foust, who now coaches the eighth-grade team.

Wolpern is back living in her hometown, having purchased a home last fall. She works as an accountant for the Scott County Sheriff’s Department.

She helped Belle Plaine reach the state volleyball tournament in her sophomore and junior years. The Tigers also went to state in 2005 but they haven’t been back since then. This season’s Tigers are ranked No. 10 in Class 2A.

“I still have the player competitiveness in me,” Wolpern said. “That’s kind of what I’m trying to bring back to the program; the passion, excitement and competitiveness.”

*Schools/teams John has visited: 46
*Miles John has driven: 2,456

--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

Renville County West To End Varsity Football Season Early... And This Week's Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/23/2010 10:16:22 AM

The day's big football news is that Renville County West will shut down its varsity season due to a lack of players and a daunting schedule. RCW has lost three games by scores of 72-0, 68-0 and 49-8. After this week's homecoming game against Fulda, the Jaguars will forfeit the remaining four varsity games. They hope to play some junior varsity games.

The RCW roster of 22 players includes two seniors and 10 who are new to football. A report on the situation from the West Central Tribune in Willmar has been posted on the MSHSL Facebook page.

There are no changes among the No. 1 teams in this week's Associated Press football rankings.

Here they are ...

1 (1) Eden Prairie (4-0)
2 (2) Cretin-Derham Hall (3-0)
3 (3) Wayzata (3-0)
4 (4) Mounds View (3-0)
5 (5) Blaine (3-0)
6 (6) Rosemount (3-0)
7 (9) Andover (3-0)
8 (7) Minnetonka (2-1)
9 (10) Brainerd (3-0)
10 (NR) Hopkins (3-0)
10 (NR) Lakeville North (3-0)
Others receiving votes: Champlin Park, Rochester Century, East Ridge, Stillwater

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

1 (1) New London-Spicer (3-0)
2 (2) Albany (3-0)
3 (3) Pequot Lakes (3-0)
4 (5) Dassel-Cokato (3-0)
5 (7) Rochester Lourdes (3-0)
6 (6) Glencoe-Silver Lake (2-1)
7 (T9) Norwood-Young America (3-0)
8 (4) LeSueur-Henderson (2-1)
9 (NR) Milaca (3-0)
10 (NR) Holy Family Catholic (3-0)
Others receiving votes: Minneapolis Washburn, St. Croix Lutheran, La Crescent, Virginia, Breck, Sibley East, Pine City, Thief River Falls, Staples-Motley, Melrose

1 (1) Waterville-Elysian-Morristown (3-0)
2 (2) Eden Valley-Watkins (3-0)
2 (3) Luverne (3-0)
4 (4) Moose Lake-Willow River (3-0)
5 (5) Pierz (3-0)
6 (6) Southland (3-0)
7 (7) Caledonia (3-0)
8 (8) Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton (3-0)
9 (T10) Lewiston-Altura (3-0)
10 (T10) Breckenridge (3-0)
Others receiving votes: Triton, Jackson County Central, Ottertail Central, Tracy-Milroy-Balaton, New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva, Braham

1 (1) Minneota (3-0)
2 (2) Fosston (3-0)
3 (3) Barnesville (3-0)
4 (4) Springfield (3-0)
5 (5) Mahnomen (3-0)
6 (7) Browerville (3-0)
7 (8) Barnum (3-0)
8 (NR) Le Center (3-0)
9 (NR) New Ulm Cathedral (2-1)
10 (6) Royalton (2-1)
10 (NR) Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City (2-1)
Others receiving votes: Blooming Prairie, Warren-Alvarado-Oslo, Upsala/Swanville, Lake of the Woods

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

An Evening Of Volleyball ... And A Thud On The Highway
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/21/2010 10:23:54 PM

I’m sorry. I’m really sorry for what took place Tuesday night on a dark Highway 19 between Ivanhoe and Marshall. I ran over two animals with my car. They were either small pigs or large raccoons, and I’m not sure that both of them bought the farm as they tried to cross the highway, but there was definitely a thud under my vehicle.

I was on Highway 19 after watching a volleyball match at Lincoln HI in Ivanhoe. The Rebels (the HI stands for Hendricks and Ivanhoe) played host to Minneota, which is the No. 1-ranked team in Class 1A. The outcome was no surprise, with Minneota winning 3-0. (See a photo gallery from the match on the MSHSL Facebook page.)

“The bottom line is we’re happy to get serves over and play our game,” said Lincoln HI coach Jenni Wright. “They are a very strong program and we need to put up something. They had us for lunch tonight, but I’d rather play good competition all the time. We respect their program.”

Minneota moved to 12-2, with losses to the No. 1 team in Class 3A (Lakeville North) and the No. 1 team in 2A (Jackson County Central). One of the Vikings’ victories came against Hutchinson when the Tigers were No. 1 in 2A. Minneota faced Lakeville North and Hutchinson during last weekend’s Southwest Minnesota Challenge in Marshall.

“We had a great weekend at the Marshall tournament. That was a lot of fun for us,” Minneota coach Stephanie Hennen said. “We love to go there. It’s 12 miles from home for us and it’s a great tournament. We were able to play against a lot of big teams and tough teams, and it was a great experience for our kids.”

My drive from Ivanhoe to Marshall – site of an MSHSL area meeting Wednesday morning – was going wonderfully. As I spun the radio dial, I checked the Twins score and then found two radio stations broadcasting high school volleyball play-by-play: Wheaton-Herman-Norcross vs. Hancock and Renville County West vs. Dawson-Boyd. A very pleasant evening was well under way.

And then, all of a sudden, my headlights caught the shapes of two critters ambling across the road. Thud. Sorrow. Regret.

I hate when that happens.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 44
*Miles John has driven: 2,213

--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
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/21/2010 11:04:28 AM

Good morning from Mankato. I'm here for today's fall area meeting, enjoying the company of 60 administrators from this area of the state.

Among the agenda items is our new Student Sports Information Directors program. The program provides opportunities for students to become reporters for their schools, allowing them to learn about the reporting, writing and editing process and giving them insight into the career of a working journalist. Students involved in the program will use MSHSL-issued media credentials (pictured here).

Working under the mentorship of English/journalism teachers, students will plan and produce stories about their school’s activities. These can involve sports as well as non-sports activities. Stories can include preseason previews, game stories, feature stories about coaches or students-athletes, stories about schools concerts, plays or anything else that takes place in the school community. Photography is also included as part of the program. Each school in Minnesota has its own page on the MSHSL site and the student-produced stories will appear on their school’s page.

More information about the program will be coming soon.

State Cross-Country Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/21/2010 10:41:53 AM

Boys Class 2A

1. Wayzata
2. Edina
3. Eden Prairie
4. Stillwater
5. Rosemount
6. White Bear Lake
7. Burnsville
8. Owatonna
9. Moorhead
10. Minnetonka
11. Red Wing
12 Maple Grove

1. Aaron Bartnik, Eden Prairie
2. Mohamed Mohamed, Eden Prairie
3. Bryant Blahnik, Red Wing
4. Adam Zutz, St. Francis
5. Lukas Gemar, Moorhead
6. Josh Thorson, Wayzata
7. Steven Dado, Totino Grace
8. Cole O'Brien, Burnsville
9. Trent Lusignan, Shakopee
10. Shane McCallum, Rosemount
11. Riley Macon, Rochester Mayo
12. Tom Linner, Stillwater

Girls Class 2A

1. Eden Prairie
2. Monticello
3. Roseville
4. Lakeville South
5. Chanhassen
6. Hopkins
7. Wayzata
8. Prior Lake
9. Andover
10. Elk River
11. Eagan
12. Minnetonka


1. Maria Hauger, 10, Shakopee
2. Jamie Piepenburg, 11, Alexandria
3. Kayla Urick, 12, Chaska
4. Erica Seidenkranz, 11, Monticello
5. Becca Dyson, 12, Roseville
6. Abbi Aspengren, 12, Elk River
7. Kaelyn Williams, 11, Cooper
8. Taylor Perkins, 10, Lakeville North
9. Meghan Bailey, 12, Minnetonka
10. Amber Seidenkranz, 9, Monticello
11. Katie Moran, 12, Visitation
12. Cassidy Soli, 10, Champlin Park

Boys Class 1A

1. Perham
2. St. Cloud Cathedral
3. Glencoe-Silver Lake
4. Plainview-Elgin-Millville
5. Holy Family Catholic
6. Esko
7. Mora
8. Minnehaha Academy
9. LaCrescent
11. Fairmont
12. Waseca


1. Mubarik Musa, Worthington
2. Mason Ferlic, Mounds Park Academy
3. Grant Wintheiser, St. Cloud Cathedral
4. Matt Jergensen, Caledonia
5. Grant Timm, Plainview-E-M
6. Aaron Haley, Plainview-E-M
7. Brandon Clark, Blake
8. Troy Koivisto, Dassel-Cokato
9. Oj Ojulla, Worthington
10. Jensen Orlow, Holy Family Catholic
11. Shane Streich, Waseca
12. Brendan Skime, Thief River Falls

Girls Class 1A

1. Adrian
2. St. Cloud Cathedral
3. Holy Family Catholic
4. LaCrescent
5. Blake
6. Waseca
7. Perham
8. Albany
9. Esko
10. Park Rapids Area
11. Fairmont
12. Dover-Eyota/St. Charles

1. Jordin Kopplow, Adrian
2. Lauren Friese, Fairmont
3. Gabi Swoboda, Redwood Falls Area
4. Clare Flanagan, Blake
5. Elena Danielson, St. Cloud Catholic
6. Victoria Alexander, Lake of the Woods
7. Cheyanne Bowers, St.James
8. Molly Eastman, Holy Family Catholic
9. Jordan Chancellor, Blake
10. Emi Tros,t Cannon Falls
11. Maren Greenwaldt, Sauk Centre
12. Madi Sachs, Albany

3A Volleyball Rankings Hold Firm, Shuffles in 2A & 1A
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/20/2010 11:33:45 AM

Very little changed in this week’s Class 3A state volleyball rankings, with Lakeville North continuing its season-long hold on the top spot and the top eight teams unchanged. Eden Prairie moved down one spot to No. 10 and Blaine jumped into the No.9 spot.

In 2A, Jackson County Central stays No. 1, and Wadena-Deer Creek moves to No. 2, swapping positions with Hutchinson. Marshall, which shared third with W-DC last week, fell to No. 6.

The top three teams in 1A (Minneota, Bethlehem Academy, Wabasha-Kellog) held firm. No. 4 Martin County West and No. 5 Mayer Lutheran each rose one spot and Canby moved from fourth to ninth.

1. Lakeville North (10) 150
2. Wayzata 140
3. Bloomingon Jefferson 130
4. Apple Valley 106
5. Shakopee 94
6. Waconia 89
Lakeville South 89
8. Eastview 54
9. Blaine 52
10. Eden Prairie 47
Others: Centennial (43), Stillwater (19), Hopkins (10), Bloomington Kennedy (7), Chaska (6), Owatonna (6), Hill-Murray (6)

1. Jackson County Central (7) 119
2. Wadena-Deer Creek (1) 107
3. Hutchinson 106
4. Jordan 93
5. Lesuer-Henderson 91
6. Marshall 76
7. Stewartville 68
8. Delano 57
9. Hibbing 42
10. Belle Plaine 38
Others: Byron (17), Rocori (12), Visitation (7), Caledonia (7), Kasson-Mantorville (6)

1. Minneota (10) 206
2. Bethlehem Academy (3) 196
3. Wabasha-Kellogg 175
4. Martin County West 144
5. Mayer Lutheran (1) 136
Nevis 136
7. Windom 106
BBE 106
9. Canby 94
10. Win-E-Mac 91
Others: Mabel-Canton (62), Northern Freeze (17), Heritage Christian (8), GFW (6), Deer River (6), Sebeka (4), MACCRAY (2),

A Football Friday Like Few Others
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/17/2010 11:07:40 PM

Well, now THAT was fun.

St. Thomas Academy’s 22-21 victory over Mahtomedi on Friday night was as entertaining a football game as you will ever see. Things went down to the wire and a little beyond before we had a winner.

It was 14-14 at halftime and no points were scored in the third quarter. Mahtomedi went ahead 21-14 on the first play of the fourth quarter when – after a 45-yard run by Brenton Braddock – Dan Ferrazzo hit Cody Gerver on an 8-yard TD pass.

Mahtomedi looked ready to wrap up the win … until the Zephyrs fumbled the ball away on the St. Thomas Academy 10-yard line with 4:58 to play. The Cadets converted twice on fourth down to stay alive, and they scored with 11 seconds left when Ryan McManus threw to Augie Braddock for a 15-yard score. Will Ratelle ran in the two-point conversion and the Cadets led 22-21.

But … a Hail Mary pass put Mahtomedi on the Cadets 16 with less than a second remaining, and from there a field goal attempt sailed wide, unleashing a wild celebration by the Cadets.(As in this photo.)

Whew. This was one of those evenings when a guy like me thanks his lucky stars that he does what he does. Watching two teams that have worked so hard -- representing two schools with terrific reputations – and see the game remain undecided until the last tick of the clock ... well, that’s hard to beat.

(To see a photo gallery and HD video of the game's crucial plays, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.)

St.Thomas Academy is No. 2 in this week’s Associated Press Class 4A poll and Mahtomedi is No. 4. In last season’s 4A state semifinals, the Cadets beat Mahtomedi 20-15. These two teams from the Classic Suburban Conference have developed one of the strongest rivalries in Minnesota.

And let me say something about the facilities at St. Thomas Academy. The football stadium is probably the finest at any high school in the state. Artificial turf, gigantic and modern two-level press box, great sightlines … this place has everything you want.

The atmosphere was special, too, on this September evening. Here are a few glimpses of what I saw and heard …

The STA band opening the festivities by playing “Sweet Caroline” and “Crazy Train.” The officials trading fist bumps before spreading out across the field for the opening kickoff. The STA color guard presenting the colors for the national anthem. A friendly guy on the sidelines offering me a few sprays of mosquito repellent.

The Cadets running a formation with eight (eight!) receivers split wide on fourth down right before halftime. Watching a basketball (a basketball!) roll down a grass berm near the field and finding myself stepping onto the field to kick it back to the kids who were playing with it. Hearing Minnesota Sports Broadcast Network play-by-play guy Nick Walsh describe a long-yardage situation as “second down and a country mile.”

Appreciating the STA uniforms, which are sharp: white pants, blue jerseys, blue helmets and bright white facemasks. Trying to keep the two running backs named Braddock straight: Augie for STA and Brenton for Mahtomedi. Hearing the STA coaches in the press box scream into their headphones, “Who’s got Braddock!”

The outstanding STA/Visitation marching band playing “Eleanor Rigby” at halftime. Enjoying the stadium turf and knowing that Mahtomedi’s grass field will become artificial turf for the 2011 season …and the Zephyrs’ tiny wooden shack of a press box also will be replaced. The media rejoices!

And, finally, checking my email while sitting in the STA press box and reading this dispatch from one of my buddies at my former place of employment, the Minneapolis Star Tribune (I left the Strib for the MSHSL six months ago):

“Mr. Media Specialist: The call of the evening to the Star Tribune Sports department on Thursday went like this:
S-T: Sports.
Caller: Yes, I have a prep football game to report.
S-T: Which game is it?
Caller: The Edina-Wayzata game. John Millea was here but we thought we’d call the box in for him.
S-T: That’s great, but John Millea doesn’t work for us anymore.
Caller: He doesn’t? Really? Since when?”

My reply: “News must not reach Wayzata too rapidly ... or maybe I'm not as important as I thought I was.”

To which my former colleague responded: “I think both of your statements are correct.”

On that note, let’s call it a night. A great night.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 42
*Miles John has driven: 1,984

--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

'It’s Not Good For Kids, It’s Really Not What High School Sports Is About'
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/17/2010 11:16:46 AM

Nobody involved with football at Wayzata High School is asking for sympathy. A little bit of understanding would be nice, however.

The Trojans are 3-0 this season after Thursday night’s 23-7 victory over Edina. The oddity of that 3-0 record is that Wayzata has reached the halfway point in the regular season. Yes, instead of the usual eight games, the Trojans are playing only six this fall.

They belong to the Lake Conference (the former Classic Lake), which consists of only five teams. That means each team has four conference games and must find four non-conference opponents. Wayzata opened the season with non-conference games against Owatonna and Lakeville South. A scheduled Oct. 1 home game against Bradenton (Fla.) Prep Academy is now off the books because the Florida school has disbanded its football team.

This isn’t just a problem for the schools in the Lake Conference. Schools of all sizes, from all around Minnesota, face scheduling issues every year (in sports other than football, too) and the problem is not going away.

Discussions are underway about the possibility of revamping the football format in Minnesota. At the Fall Area Meetings -- which began last week in St. Cloud and will continue through early October in Mankato, Marshall, Fergus Falls, Thief River Falls, Chisholm, Rochester and Brooklyn Park – football scheduling issues are part of the agenda.

One possible change is adding a “zero week” to the season, allowing schools to play their first game one week earlier than usual and take a week off (without practicing) later in the season. Also under discussion is the possibility of adopting football schedules partially based on section alignment, with all teams advancing to the postseason or the top four teams in each section advancing.

Any such advancements would be welcome at Wayzata.

“It causes dilemmas because as we’re looking to fill the schedule, we literally start thinking, ‘How far can we get on a bus and drive?’ ” Trojans coach Brad Anderson said after Thursday’s game. “We were willing to drive all the way to Fort Wayne, Indiana, play a game, get right back on the bus and come home.

“It’s not good for kids, it’s really not what high school sports is about. I’m disappointed in the fact that it’s come to this point, and people don’t see it as a problem for all high schools. I think they’re looking at it like, ‘Oh, that’s Eden Prairie’s or Wayzata’s problem,’ but I would say this is a blemish on all high school sports right now and it’s something that has to be solved by everyone. We can’t solve the problem by ourselves. People who are higher up have to make the decision that this is not good for kids and make a change.”

The six-game schedule means Wayzata will essentially have two bye weeks in the final month of the regular season. After playing Hopkins on Sept. 24, they will have two weeks of practice before meeting Minnetonka on Oct. 8. Then comes another nearly two weeks off before facing Eden Prairie on Oct. 20 in the final regular-season game.

“We kind of started talking about that and we really didn’t want to get too focused on that,” Wayzata senior tailback Aaron Roth said. “Initially it was like, ‘This is the end of the world’ and ‘What are we going to do now?’ It wasn’t really panic mode, but we were all a little nervous. Now that we’ve got some games under our belt, we’re just going to take it step by step."

Roth was limited to six games last year because he suffered an injury that prematurely ended his season. This time around, it’s tougher to take.

“It’s frustrating because last year I broke my ankle and that was hard enough,” he said. “It’s tough because I come back for my senior year and we only had seven games to start with, so that’s kind of a bummer.”

Anderson said he has stressed to his players that they can’t worry about things that are out of their control.

“What I told our players is that we can only play the games that are on our schedule. Don’t worry about what we don’t have control over,” he said. “We’re going to play every game as hard as we can. The week in between, we’ll figure out how to turn it into a positive.

“Our players just want to play, but the bottom line is we don’t have games those weeks. It does us no good to complain about it, and all we can do is try and figure out how we can make our team better during that week.”

*Schools/teams John has visited: 40
*Miles John has driven: 1,956

--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

Sportsmanship Is Out There ... If You Know Where To Look
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/16/2010 3:51:13 PM

Sportsmanship is a big topic of conversation, on the heels of a play involving the New York Yankees’ Derek Jeter. He was batting against Tampa when an inside pitched appeared to hit him. Jeter grabbed his left arm in pain and umpire Lance Barksdale told him to go to first base. The Rays argued the call, and Tampa manager Joe Maddon was ejected during the argument.

After the game, reporters asked Jeter if the ball really did hit him. He admitted that it didn’t.

“(Barksdale) told me to go to first base. I’m not going to tell him I’m not going to first, you know,” Jeter said. “It’s part of the game. My job is to get on base.”

I played baseball, I am a former baseball umpire and I know how baseball works. You try to steal signs, you try to work the umpires. That’s been a part of the game for as long as the game has existed.

I remember sitting in a college classroom taking an exam. A guy sitting next to me whispered to get my attention, then made a motion asking me to place my test paper where he could see it. Sorry, buddy. You’re on your own in here. That is not part of this game.

A column by Rachel Blount of the Minneapolis Star Tribune earlier this month told a tremendous story of sportsmanship on the college level. The volleyball team at Northwestern College in Roseville has adopted what is referred to as “honor calls.” In effect, if the officials miss a call, the Eagles will correct it, even if the call goes against them.

Example: When an Eagles blocker touches an opponent's shot that goes out of bounds -- and the officials don't see the touch -- the Eagles self-report it, costing themselves a point.

The team’s commitment to honor calls resulted in the Eagles receiving the NCAA Student-Athlete Sportsmanship Award for female athletes.

“It was a hard thing to get used to,” senior setter Leah Kostek told Blount. “I’m so competitive that the first few times it happened on crucial points, I had to tell myself, ‘This is a good thing! This is a good thing!’ I was really frustrated, but deep down, I knew it was the right thing to do. I’m proud of my teammates, and I’m proud to be an Eagle.”

In a similar vein, one of the great marvels of high school sports in Minnesota is the sportsmanship on display at the girls’ and boys’ state tennis tournaments. When a ball lands close to the line, it is up to the players to make the call. In? Out? The player on the receiving end of the shot calls it. Chair umpires are seated for state championship matches, but they are there on only a contingency basis. They may overrule a player’s call, but that is extremely rare.

So examples of great sportsmanship are out there. You just need to know where to look.

It's The Halfway Point In The Regular Season For One Football Team
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/16/2010 11:48:02 AM

The John's Journal staff will be at Wayzata tonight as the Trojans reach the halfway point in the regular season. That's right, tonight is Game 3 on Wayzata's six-game schedule.

Tonight's game vs. Edina is also the first of four Lake Conference games for Wayzata. The Trojans were able to find only three non-conference opponents -- Owatonna, Lakeville South and Bradenton (Fla.) Prep Academy -- but the Florida school has disbanded its football team. So Wayzata is down to six games in the regular season.

A full postgame photo/video gallery will be posted on the MSHSL Facebook page and a game report will be seen right here late this evening ...

New London-Spicer Takes Over Top Spot in 3A Football Poll
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/16/2010 9:13:43 AM

The top teams in the Associated Press football rankings remain unchanged this week with the exception of Class 3A. With previous No. 1 Glencoe-Silver Lake losing to Waconia last week, defending state champion New London-Spicer moved from No. 2 to No. 1. Glencoe-Silver Lake is No. 6 this week.

The other top-ranked teams are Eden Prairie in 5A, Totino-Grace in 4A, Waterville-Elysian-Morristown in 2A, Minneota in 1A and Stephen-Argyle in Nine-Man.

1 (1) Eden Prairie (3-0)
2 (2) Cretin-Derham Hall (2-0)
3 (3) Wayzata (2-0)
4 (4) Mounds View (2-0)
5 (5) Blaine (2-0)
6 (10) Rosemount (2-0)
7 (9) Minnetonka (1-1)
8 (NR) Champlin Park (2-0)
9 (NR) Andover (2-0)
10 (NR) Brainerd (2-0)
Others receiving votes: Lakeville North, Hopkins, Stillwater, Edina, Rochester Century, Shakopee, East Ridge

1 (1) Totino-Grace (2-0)
2 (2) St. Thomas Academy (2-0)
3 (3) Mankato West (2-0)
4 (4) Mahtomedi (2-0)
5 (T6) Rogers (2-0)
6 (T6) Sartell-St. Stephen (2-0)
7 (T8) Becker (2-0)
8 (T8) South St. Paul (2-0)
9 (10) Winona (2-0)
10 (NR) Grand Rapids (2-0)
Others receiving votes: Benilde-St. Margaret's, Waconia, Alexandria, Mankato East, Northfield, St. Paul Central, Chisago Lakes, Delano, St. Paul Como Park, Detroit Lakes, Bemidji, St. Michael-Albertville, Marshall

1 (2) New London-Spicer (2-0)
2 (3) Albany (2-0)
3 (4) Pequot Lakes (2-0)
4 (5) LeSueur-Henderson (2-0)
5 (NR) Dassel-Cokato (2-0)
6 (1) Glencoe-Silver Lake (1-1)
7 (NR) Rochester Lourdes (2-0)
8 (NR) Minneapolis North (2-0)
9 (NR) Minneapolis Washburn (2-0)
9 (NR) Norwood-Young America (2-0)
Others receiving votes: Holy Family Catholic, Fairmont, Belle Plaine/Holy Family Academy, St. Croix Lutheran, Kasson-Mantorville, Mora, St. Anthony, Virginia, Staples-Motley, Thief River Falls, Pine City, Foley, Breck, La Crescent, Milaca

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

1 (1) Minneota (2-0)
2 (2) Fosston (2-0)
3 (3) Barnesville (2-0)
4 (5) Springfield (2-0)
5 (4) Mahnomen (2-0)
6 (6) Royalton (2-0)
7 (7) Browerville (2-0)
8 (8) Barnum (2-0)
9 (10) Wabasso (2-0)
10 (NR) Red Lake County (2-0)
Others receiving votes: Warren-Alvarado-Oslo, Blooming Prairie, Le Center, New Ulm Cathedral

1 (1) Stephen-Argyle (2-0)
2 (2) Nicollet (2-0)
3 (3) Grand Meadow (2-0)
4 (4) Edgerton/Ellsworth (2-0)
5 (6) Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley (2-0)
6 (T7) Goodridge-Grygla (2-0)
7 (T7) McGregor (2-0)
8 (10) Underwood (2-0)
9 (9) Cherry (1-1)
10 (5) Kittson County Central (1-1)
Others receiving votes: Hills-Beaver Creek, Nevis, Mountain Iron-Buhl, Floodwood, Wheaton

Foley Football Team Is On The Road Again ... And Again
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/15/2010 12:01:40 PM

Nolan Wennenberg, as with most of the senior football players at Foley, will have an interesting story to tell when he looks back on his high school career.

The story will begin like this: “I was a varsity football player for two years and never played a home game.”

Wennenberg stood on the sidelines during varsity games when he was a sophomore, so he remembers what it’s like for the Falcons to play in front of their home fans at DeRosher Field. But last season and this season, Foley is playing most of its home games 15 miles away at St. Cloud State’s Husky Stadium.

“It’s a lot different getting on a bus for a home game, that’s for sure,” said Wennenberg, a wide receiver and cornerback.

No kidding. How the Falcons got here – or there, depending on how you look at it – is a story of construction, reconstruction and a team that knows how to travel.

The original plan was that the Falcons would spend the 2009 season on the road while their home field was dug up and rebuilt. So last season the Falcons played at Husky Stadium, an artificial-turf showplace that was built in 2004. But things went haywire when the DeRosher Field construction resulted in a playing surface that was much too hard and filled with rocks.

Hit the rewind button. Heavy equipment is now back on the field, tearing it up once more and putting the Falcons back on the bus every week.

The top few inches of soil on DeRosher Field are being removed and sifted to remove the rocks. The soil will be mixed with sand and peat and put down again. The field replacement is expected to cost less than $100,000, with the school district paying around $10,000. The rest of the cost will be shared by the architectural firm that designed the field and the company that managed the construction.

The hope is that the field will be ready for the 2011 season. There are no guarantees, however, meaning the Falcons could end up playing three seasons on the road.

“It could be another year,” Falcons coach Larry Herm said Tuesday, “depending on when they get that grass in, the temperature of the soil, does it germinate this year or does it happen next year? Yesterday I received a little glimmer of hope that we might be able to play on that field next year. I’m more hopeful after talking to those people yesterday than I was before, looking at seeding windows. But you’ve got to have good weather, good warmth, good rain, a lot of stuff.”

There’s plenty of good stuff happening for the Falcons so far in this young season. They have defeated Yellow Medicine East 21-8 and Melrose 20-6 and will meet Milaca, another unbeaten team, on Friday at Milaca.

“It’s fixin’ to be a good one,” senior lineman Harley Stevens said of Friday’s West Central Conference game.

The Falcons are accustomed to playing every game on the road, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Transportation timetables must be set and every piece of vital equipment must be put on a bus.

“We have to deal with it as coaches as far as when are we leaving? Are we ready? Do we have everything we need? Every game is an away game, which isn’t an easy preparation,” said Herm, who is in his 22nd year as the Foley coach.

“There are a lot of things we do to make things go smoothly, because kids forget stuff. When you’re at home, you get to relax for a little bit because you don’t have to bring all the extra stuff, you don’t have to pack a bus.”

Senior quarterback/free safety Mitch Wenner, who also has never played a varsity home game, said “It’s exciting to play at St. Cloud State because it’s such a nice stadium and it’s kind of cool to get the opportunity to play on turf. But it would be nice to have a chance to play in front of a real home crowd.”

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

Falcons fans come out in droves wherever the team plays, for which the players and coaches are thankful.

“We’ve had tons of support,” Stevens said.

Once DeRosher Field is back in playing shape, Foley – which has an enrollment of 446 and plays Class 3A football -- will have some of the finest athletic facilities in the state, regardless of school size. The football field is encircled by a new track, the gymnasium is roomy and bright and the facilities are capped off by a fieldhouse that contains multiple basketball courts surrounded by a running track. The fieldhouse also has a large, modern weight-training room.

But for now, the football team calls Husky Stadium home.

“We go to a good place, so it’s not a bad situation,” Herm said. “I think the situation could have been a lot worse if we had to use Milaca’s field or Sauk Rapids’ field or Becker’s field; not that they aren’t good fields. But there would be no sense of home, where at St. Cloud State we can create things and make it in a sense our home field.”

One of this year’s “home” games will not be played at St. Cloud State, however. Because Husky Stadium won’t be available, the Falcons will play their homecoming game against Sauk Centre on Oct. 9 at St. John’s University in Collegeville. That’s a Saturday, and the game will be played at 1 p.m.

But it doesn’t seem to matter to the Falcons when or where they play.

“A field’s a field,” said Wennerberg, “and we’re just going to go out and play as hard as we can no matter where we’re playing.”

*Schools/teams John has visited: 38
*Miles John has driven: 1,926

--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 Tuesday Trip to St. Cloud and Foley
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/14/2010 2:05:36 PM

Hello from MSHSL World Headquarters’ Stearns County Command Post … also known as Barnes & Noble in St. Cloud. Thanks once again to wi-fi access, the John’s Journal staff has found a quiet place to get some work done and connect with the vast worldwide audience.

I tagged along with MSHSL executive director Dave Stead and associate director Kevin Merkle for today’s journey to St. Cloud, where the day began with a Fall Area Meeting at the Kelly Inn. The meeting has ended and I have a small gap in my day, thus the visit to Barnes & Noble.

The meeting room was filled with representatives from schools in this part of the state, plus a few who drove up from the Twin Cities area. This was the first of eight Area Meetings; in coming weeks, meetings also will be held in Mankato, Marshall, Fergus Falls, Thief River Falls, Chisholm, Rochester and Brooklyn Park. (Today's meeting is pictured below.)

These are informational meetings, used to keep school officials updated on what's taking place with the MSHSL and member schools. Today’s agenda included 21 items, ranging from concussion education to membership responsibilities to equipment updates to insurance coverage and beyond. I spoke to the group about the MSHSL’s new Student Sports Information Directors program (which is very exciting), along with updates on John’s Journal and MSHSL on Facebook/Twitter, etc.

But why am I still in St. Cloud? Because I have another appointment in the neighborhood this afternoon. I’ll be visiting football practice at nearby Foley High School, where an interesting story is ongoing.

For the second season in a row, Foley is playing no home football games. There have been issues with the construction of a new field for the Falcons, resulting in two years on the road.

I’ll be visiting the school, chatting with players and coaches and shooting photos and video. At this morning’s meeting, Foley athletic director Michael Johnson told me that work has commenced on getting the football field in shape for next season, so we’ll see how that works out photographically.

I’ll post a story about the Falcons – who are unbeaten through two games, by the way – here on the Journal, and the MSHSL Facebook page will be the home for lots of photos and a little video, as well.

So for now, it’s a beautiful day in St. Cloud!

*Schools/teams John has visited: 37
*Miles John has driven: 1,778

--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

Another New Team Sits Atop 2A Volleyball Poll
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/13/2010 10:45:45 AM

For third time in as many weeks, there is a new team atop the Class 2A state volleyball rankings conducted by the volleyball coaches association. Jackson County Central is the new No. 1, followed by Hutchinson and Marshall (Marshall shares the No. 3 spot with Wadena-Deer Creek).

Marshall was No. 1 in the preseason poll and Hutchinson took over the top spot a week ago. Jackson County Central rose to the top spot this week after winning the Shakopee tournament.

The top teams in Class 3A and 1A remained unchanged, with Lakeville North and Minneota maintaining their positions.

1. Lakeville North (11) 165
2. Wayzata 152
3. Bloomingon Jefferson 143
4. Apple Valley 119
5. Shakopee 108
6. Waconia 82
7. Lakeville South 73
8. Eastview 72
9. Eden Prairie 57
10. Centennial 47
Others: Blaine (42), Stillwater (30), Hopkins (24), Eagan (13), Andover (12), Woodbury (9), Owatonna (7), Chaska (6), Maple Grove (6)

1. Jackson County Central (5) 143
2. Hutchinson (4) 137
3. Marshall 113
Wadena-Deer Creek (1) 113
5. Jordan 95
6. Lesuer-Henderson 88
7. Stewartville 76
8. Delano 73
9. Hibbing 50
10. Belle Plaine 46
Others: Kasson-Mantorville (21), Caledonia (16), Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton (15), Minnehaha Academy (13), Greenway (12), Concordia Academy (9), Byron (6), Visitation (6)

1. Minneota (8) 197
2. Bethlehem Academy (5) 187
3. Wabasha-Kellogg 149
4. Canby 137
5. Martin County West 115
6. Mayer Lutheran 113
7. BBE 88
Nevis 88
9. Windom 79
10. Win-E-Mac 74
Mabel-Canton 74
Others: Heritage Christian (19), Northern Freeze (17), Ada-Borup (13), Kittson Central (6), MACCRAY (6), Deer River (6)

New Administrators Gather For Workshop
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/13/2010 10:34:54 AM

Twenty-five new athletic administrators, from schools large and small all around Minnesota, gathered in Brooklyn Center on Sunday and Monday for a workshop designed to help them in their new jobs.

Sunday’s events were held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel and the group met Monday morning at MSHSL headquarters. The workshop was sponsored by the Minnesota Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association and the MSHSL.

(In this photo, the group hears from Jackson County Central AD Larry Traetow, president of the Minnesota Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association.)

The workshop offerings included courses in athletic administration as well as several presentations from MnIAAA executives. During Monday’s session, members of the MSHSL staff introduced themselves to the new ADs and outlined their responsibilities.

Two Hot Dogs, Two Football Games, One Great Day
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/11/2010 12:17:00 AM

My doubleheader day of football began at 3:13 p.m. Friday in south Minneapolis. I got out of the car -- a block or so from Minneapolis Southwest’s football stadium -- and heard the song “My Girl” playing on the p.a. system. Nice. The day came to a close (the pre-writing part of the day, anyway) a little more than seven hours later when I pulled into my garage but remained in my car for a couple more minutes, listening to the radio as scores were reported from games played all over Minnesota.

I’ve come to a firm conclusion: This is a pretty good deal, this gig I have. What’s better than spending your workdays watching young athletes play their hearts out while their families and friends cheer them on? Friday can be summed up with a stream of consciousness that includes two halftime hot dogs eaten 63 miles apart, an overturned car on the interstate, the White Stripes, rain, mud and a quarterback called for holding.

Jump in the passenger seat as we turn the key and get going …

The first hot dog was a pregame meal, thrown down the gullet 15 minutes before kickoff as Edina played at Minneapolis Southwest in a 4 p.m. start. At 3:56 the Southwest Lakers were all charged up to run onto the field, but the coaches held them back (see photo at right) as they waited for the proper song to be cued up on the p.a. system. There must have been a mixup, because the Lakers came roaring out from behind the bleachers with “The Zamboni Song” providing the soundtrack.

A vuvuzela was heard from the Edina crowd as I chatted on the sideline with WCCO-AM producer Steve Enck (an Edina resident). This was just the day’s first brush with radio greatness. Edina cruised to a 47-13 victory, sparked by 18-yard first-quarter touchdown runs by Jake Remes and Nick Rallis. The score was 19-0 after Nate Carlson connected with Devin Crawford-Tufts for a 50-yard TD pass with 9:05 left in the second quarter. That was my cue to depart for Game 2, knowing that Edina’s schedule will quickly ramp up as the Hornets’ next four opponents are Wayzata, Eden Prairie, Minnetonka and St. Thomas Academy.

I was back in the car at 5 p.m. Three minutes later I was on the Crosstown freeway, absolutely crawling. Half an hour later traffic was moving well on Owatonna-bound Interstate 35… until a big pileup brought everything to a halt. One vehicle was upside down in the median and two or three others were crunched up. Several drivers had already pulled over to help – law enforcement and medical personnel had not yet arrived -- and there didn’t appear to be anything more the rest of us could do. Onward.

(To see photo galleries and video clips from Friday's travels, go to the MSHSL Facebook page).

6:06: A quick diversion to the Medford McDonald’s, because man cannot live on hot dogs alone.

6:15: As the lights of Owatonna’s stadium came into view in the distance, so did flashes of lightning.

6:25: I parked on a residential street behind the stadium to hear someone from Mankato West say to someone from Owatonna, “Thank you for making the rain stop.” Not so fast, friend. Umbrella … check. Raincoat … check.

The Owatonna band was cranking out a Green Day tune, followed by the White Stripes. In the rain, this was an outstanding effort. During the anthem, I held my hat over my camera; Owatonna girls’ lacrosse coach Bill Bernard asked me, “Do you want another hat to hold over your camera?” No, but thanks for asking, Bill.

When Mankato West and Owatonna meet on the football field in the Big 9 Conference, it is quite the contrary styles. West uses a no-huddle, spread offense while the Huskies employ a double wing, with everybody bunched up like a fist. Owatonna quarterback Mitch Hawkins routinely pitched the ball to his running backs and then led the way into the hole, throwing blocks.

As I was holding my umbrella with my left hand and shooting photographs with my right hand, a fellow on the sideline asked, “How do you do that with one hand?” Best question of the day. Answer: Very uncomfortably.

West scored on its second play of the game, with Tyler Resner scooting 63 yards for six. West is a notorious passing team behind big, skilled junior quarterback Philip Nelson, but the Scarlets did all their scoring on the ground in defeating Owatonna 21-8. Nelson – who is surely a top five QB in Minnesota this year and could be at the top of the heap a year from now – ran for TDs of 12 and 8 yards, the first one coming one play after teammate Nick Kaus intercepted an Owatonna pass.

Late in the first half I downed hot dog No. 2. This one got a little soggy, because I didn’t notice the steady drip coming off the concession stand roof. At halftime, I had the honor of being interviewed by Roy Koenig (The Voice of the Huskies) on KRFO 1390 AM. Roy asked about my job with the MSHSL and my past life at the Minneapolis Star Tribune. I didn’t trip over my tongue too badly, I hope.

Along with radio coverage, the Owatonna football games can also be viewed via live webcasts courtesy of the Owatonna People’s Press at owatonna.com. This is very cool stuff.

Having been soaked to the bone during the rainy first half, I remained in the press box (pictured above) in the second half, hanging out with my sportswriting colleagues Chad Courrier from the Mankato Free Press and Ian Stauffer from the People’s Press. Among the second-half highlights was what appeared to be a holding call on Nelson. I asked West coach Mark Esch about it after the game, and he wasn’t aware of such a call.

“But I wouldn’t put it past him,” Esch said. “He’s a heck of a competitor.”

After the game was over and soggy people returned to their cars and homes, Esch stood encircled by his players. The Scarlets are ranked No. 3 in Class 4A and the victory gave them the inside track to the Big 9 title. But the coach – following the mantra of all smart coaches – was not satisfied.

“Right now we’re not where we want to be,” he told the boys.

The drive home brought some interesting radio news: Glencoe-Silver Lake, the No. 1 team in 3A, had lost to Waconia … a dozen fumbles were reported during Brainerd’s victory over Willmar … and lightning strikes had forced the Rochester game between Century and Mayo to be moved to Saturday. Interesting news on an interesting, exciting, fun-filled day.

The Scarlets may not be where they want to be. But me? I’m exactly where I want to be.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 37
*Miles John has driven: 1,778

--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

Preview: Tonight’s Mankato West-Owatonna Game
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/10/2010 9:10:23 AM

It’s a little early to be thinking about conference championships … unless the conference is the Big 9. The winner of tonight’s game between Mankato West and Owatonna will have the inside track to the league title, which is not a new thing.

Owatonna, the home team tonight, beat West 17-10 en route to winning the Big 9 championship in 2008, and West used a 28-14 victory over the Huskies in Week 2 last season to vault itself to the title.

West, No. 3 in the Associated Press Class 4A rankings, opened the season with an impressive 20-0 victory at Northfield last week. The Scarlets outgained Northfield 439 yards to 143, with QB Philip Nelson completing 19 of 31 passesfor 307 yards. Northfield did not complete a pass in 10 attempts.

Owatonna lost at Wayzata 42-14 last week in a meeting of 5A teams, with Wayzata blocking two punts and returning a kickoff for a touchdown. The Huskies also had four turnovers, which is no way to beat one of the top teams in Minnesota.

I’ll be in Owatonna for tonight’s game. That will be the second game of the day for me, after catching early action between Edina and Minneapolis Southwest. The result will be a report from both games right here late tonight, and lots of photos and video posted on the MSHSL Facebook page.

Have a great Friday!

*Schools/teams John has visited: 35
*Miles John has driven: 1,647

Statewide Football Rankings: 4 State Champions are No. 1
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/9/2010 10:33:29 AM

The first Associated Press football rankings of the season have been released, and some familiar names are in the top spots.

Four defending state champions have been placed atop their classes: Totino-Grace in 4A, Waterville-Elysian-Morristown in 2A, Minneota in 1A and Stephen-Argyle in Nine-Man. Eden Prairie is No. 1 in 5A and Glencoe-Silver Lake tops the 3A pool.

1 Eden Prairie (2-0)
2 Cretin-Derham Hall (1-0)
3 Wayzata (1-0)
4 Mounds View (1-0)
5 Blaine (1-0)
6 Stillwater Area (1-0)
7 Osseo (1-0)
8 Lakeville South (1-0)
9 Minnetonka (0-1)
10 Rosemount (1-0)
Others receiving votes: Champlin Park, Brainerd, Burnsville, Edina, Hopkins, Rochester Century, Andover, White Bear Lake, East Ridge, Cambridge-Isanti, Shakopee

1 Totino-Grace (1-0)
2 St. Thomas Academy (1-0)
3 Mankato West (1-0)
4 Mahtomedi (1-0)
5 Benilde-St. Margaret's (1-0)
6 Sartell-St. Stephen (1-0)
6 Rogers (1-0)
8 South St. Paul (1-0)
8 Becker (1-0)
10 Winona (1-0)
Others receiving votes: Monticello, Grand Rapids, Sauk Rapids-Rice, St. Paul Como Park, Red Wing, Delano, Bemidji, Northfield, St. Michael-Albertville, St. Paul Central, Alexandria, Waconia

1 Glencoe-Silver Lake (1-0)
2 New London-Spicer (1-0)
3 Albany (1-0)
4 Pequot Lakes (1-0)
5 LeSueur-Henderson (1-0)
6 Thief River Falls (1-0)
7 Fairmont (1-0)
8 St. Anthony Village (1-0)
9 Belle Plaine/Holy Family Acad (1-0)
10 Mora (1-0)
Others receiving votes: Dassel-Cokato, Kasson-Mantorville, Minneapolis North, Rochester Lourdes, Waseca, Minneapolis Washburn, DeLaSalle, St. Croix Lutheran, Plainview/Elgin-Millville, La Crescent, Holy Family Catholic

1 Waterville-Elysian-Morristown (1-0)
2 Luverne (1-0)
3 Eden Valley-Watkins (1-0)
4 Moose Lake-Willow River (1-0)
5 Pierz (1-0)
6 Southland (1-0)
7 Caledonia (1-0)
8 Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton (1-0)
9 Pelican Rapids (1-0)
10 Jackson County Central (1-0)
Others receiving votes: Lewiston-Altura, Osakis, St. Paul Humboldt, Breckenridge, Triton, Ottertail Central, Deer River, BOLD, Braham, Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop, Maple Lake, Frazee

1 Minneota (1-0)
2 Fosston (1-0)
3 Barnesville (1-0)
4 Mahnomen (1-0)
5 Springfield (1-0)
6 Royalton (1-0)
7 Browerville (1-0)
8 Barnum (1-0)
9 Dawson-Boyd (1-0)
10 Wabasso (1-0)
Others receiving votes: Red Lake County, Goodhue, Le Center, Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity, Adrian, Blooming Prairie, East Central, New Ulm Cathedral, Pillager, Cedar Mountain/Comfrey, Warren-Alvarado-Oslo, Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa

1 Stephen-Argyle (1-0)
2 Nicollet (1-0)
3 Grand Meadow (1-0)
4 Edgerton/Ellsworth (1-0)
5 Kittson County Central (1-0)
6 Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley (1-0)
7 McGregor (1-0)
7 Goodridge-Grygla (1-0)
9 Cherry (1-0)
10 Underwood (1-0)
Others receiving votes: Eagle Valley, Lyle/Austin Pacelli, Hills-Beaver Creek, Floodwood, Littlefork-Big Falls, Wheaton, Nevis, Truman, Ulen-Hitterdal, Mabel-Canton, Mountain Iron-Buhl, Isle, St. Clair

Woodbury-Bethlehem Academy Volleyball Report
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/8/2010 10:39:15 AM

When you watch the Woodbury volleyball team, you see double. And triple. And what’s more, you see a very talented squad.

The easy headline for the Royals mentions all the sisters on the team: Identical twins Marika and Nicola Kim are senior hitters, and Sam, Nicole and Jenna Sullivan are triplets (Sam and Jenna are identical, adding to the fun). The Sullivans are also seniors. (In the photo below, 11-Jenna Sullivan and 7-Marika Kim team up for a block.)

I was in the Woodbury gym Tuesday night when the Royals played Bethlehem Academy from Faribault. Bethlehem Academy, the second-ranked team in Class 1A and the defending 1A state champion, pulled out an exciting 3-2 victory over the Royals, who are on the cusp of the top 10 in Class 3A.

In fact, I said to Royals coach Linda Crum after the match, “I don’t know why your team isn’t in the top 10.” Woodbury received some votes in this week’s coaches poll, but not enough to crack the top 10. That should change.

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

Tuesday’s match seemed like a prototypical matchup of 1A and 3A teams. Bethlehem Academy was undersized but highly skilled; Woodbury was taller at the net. The Kims are both 5-foot-11, and Royals seniors Cassie Cahill (5-9) and Jenna Sullivan (5-9) provide some clobbering power.

On the other side, Bethlehem Academy has 5-10 sophomore Maddie Borwege and 5-11 senior Taylor North, but the Cardinals’ strength is in their ball-control abilities. The back row of seniors Jena Budde and Victoria Nass and eighth-grader Payton Schlutz is tough to crack.

The game scores Tuesday night were 24-26, 25-22, 27-25, 22-25 and 15-9. The marathon match lasted 2 hours, 7 minutes.

“I thought they did an excellent job tonight of really staying consistent and staying in their game as far as ball-handling,” Crum said of the Cardinals. “They’re not necessarily flashy, but it’s more consistent.”

Bethlehem Academy won small-school state titles in the last four odd-numbered years: 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009 and they were state runners-up in 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008.

Bethlehem Academy, which is ranked No. 2 in Class 1A behind Minneota, opened the season against the top teams in the Class 3A and 2A rankings. Lakeville North defeated the Cardinals 3-0 on Aug. 31 and Bethlehem Academy beat Marshall 3-0 last Thursday. (In this week’s rankings, Marshall fell into the No. 2 spot in 2A behind Hutchinson.)

“They have a lot of tradition and a great program,” Crum said. “And I think one of the things I enjoy about playing their team is that they’re going to be a great ball-handling team, they’re going to balance what they do offensively and they’re going to play smart. That’s what you need, that’s what teams are doing in November and it’s great to play against teams like that and see, ‘Where are we?’ ”

Woodbury came into Tuesday’s match with a 2-1 record. The Royals beat Andover and Eagan and lost a 3-2 decision to Burnsville. Woodbury has gone to the state tournament four times: 1992, 1994, 2004 and 2007.

The plan at BA every year is to work hard, play as tough a schedule as possible and be ready for the state tournament. As coach Franz Boelter told me during preseason workouts, “If it’s our fate to finish first or second in alternate years, that’s a pretty nice fate to have.”

After Tuesday’s tough victory (celebratory photo at left), Boelter said of Woodbury, “They’re pretty good. The biggest thing is that we survived, and a lot of it was we had to survive ourselves. We just had so many errors and just generally we didn’t play that well but we kept playing hard. Sometimes, with the type of team we have, we’re just going to have to outlast people. We hung in there, hung in there, hung in there, and at the end maybe we had a little bit more left than they did.

“We gave them enough chances, we reduced our errors and they ended up making the final errors. That’s what volleyball is; it’s a game of errors, and you’ve got to reduce your errors. And yet you have to stay aggressive, and sometimes I thought we weren’t very aggressive.”

When I stepped out of my car at the school, I heard the Woodbury marching band rehearsing in the football stadium. The tune was the AC/DC classic “Dirty Deeds,” wonderfully played.

The national anthem was beautifully sung by Mike Kim … father of Marika and Nicole.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 35
*Miles John has driven: 1,647

--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

New Volleyball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/7/2010 10:19:02 AM

Lakeville North is atop Class 3A, Hutchinson moves to the top in 2A and Minneota remains No. 1 in Class 1A.

1. Lakeville North (12) 180
2. Bloomington Jefferson 145
3. Wayzata 140
4. Shakopee 136
5. Apple Valley 112
6. Waconia 104
7. Eastview 99
8. Lakeville South 87
9. Centennial 63
10. Hopkins 56
Others: Eden Prairie (51), Blaine (47), Stillwater (36), Chaska (9), Woodbury (7), Eagan (6)

1. Hutchinson (3) 87
2. Marshall (2) 79
Jackson County Central 79
4. Wadena-Deer Creek (1) 75
5. Hibbing 57
6. Delano 51
7. Belle Plaine 47
8. Jordan 45
9. Stewartville 37
10. Lesuer-Henderson 22
Others: Byron (20), Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton (7), Caledonia (6), Minnehaha Academy (6), Kasson-Mantorville (6), Maple Lake (5)

1. Minneota (5) 188
2. Bethlehem Academy (6) 182
3. Wabasha-Kellogg 159
4. Canby 147
5. Mayer Lutheran 125
6. Martin County West 115
7. Mabel-Canton 101
8. Nevis 93
9. Windom 65
10. Win-E-Mac 60
Others: Northern Freeze (57), BBE (30), Tracy-Milroy (20), GFW (7), Heritage Christian (6)

Basketball Coaches Association Honorees Named
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/6/2010 9:13:08 PM

The Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association has named five men who will be inducted into the MBCA Hall of Fame this October. The purpose of the MBCA Hall of Fame is to give special recognition to the people of Minnesota who have made significant contributions to promote high school basketball in the state via their accomplishments and service. In addition, five men will be inducted into the Hall of Honor.

The 2010 inductees are Bill Baumann of North Branch, C.R. “Chuck” Gulsvig of Moorhead, Bruce Kugath, of Shakopee, Jerry Litfin of Delano, and Roger “Shorty” Schroeder of Willmar. The induction ceremonies will be held at the MBCA Hall of Fame Banquet on Sunday, October 31st, 12:00 p.m., at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Minneapolis.

Bill Baumann became the head boys basketball coach at North Branch in 1979 and spent 31 years as the leader of the Viking program prior to retiring in 2010. Bill’s career began as a head football coach, head baseball coach, and assistant basketball coach at Villard H.S. in 1975. Coach Baumann led his North Branch teams to six Rum River Conference titles. His 1984 and 2001 Viking squads earned State Tournament berths by capturing Section championships. Coach Baumann was named Rum River Coach of the Year three times and Region/Section Coach of the Year five times.

C.R. “Chuck” Gulsvig served as the head basketball coach at Moorhead H.S. from 1983-2009. His coaching career began in Kennedy where he coached football and served as assistant basketball coach for the legendary Louis Deere. His Spuds, not being a member of a conference, traveled all of Minnesota and parts of SD, ND, and Manitoba taking on all comers. During his 26 year career, the Spuds made the Section Finals 15 times, earning seven State Tournament berths. Coach Gulsvig’s teams earned three fourth place and one third place finish in their State Tournament appearances.

Bruce Kugath became the head boys basketball coach at Shakopee in 1993 and he will be entering his 18th season at the helm, and 33rd season with the program, when the 2010-11 season begins. His coaching career began in Plum Lake WI where he was the head coach in basketball and baseball from 1968-72. Bruce moved to Shakopee in 1972 and spent 15 years as an assistant coach in basketball and head baseball coach. He assumed the leadership reins of the Shako program in 1993. During his tenure at Shakopee, Coach Kugath has guided his hoops squads to seven Missota Conference titles and six Section championships. Coach K’s 2005 squad culminated their season by winning the AAA State championship. Bruce is a seven time honoree as Section Coach of the Year and was selected AAA State Coach of the Year in 2005.

Jerry Litfin coached basketball at Delano for 29 years, 26 as the head basketball coach. His Tiger teams won five Conference titles, seven district/ sub-section championships, and a Section title earning them a berth in the 1993 State Tournament. He retired from basketball coaching as a member of the 400 Win Club with a career mark of 404-210. Jerry’s coaching accomplishments earned him recognition from his peers by being selected District Coach of the Year nine times and Section Coach of the Year twice; 1984 and 1983.

Roger “Shorty” Schroeder coached basketball at Willmar for 32 years; seven as an assistant, fifteen as head boys coach, and seven as head girls coach. Coach Schroeder was the head basketball coach at Appleton for four years and Litchfield for six years prior to moving to Willmar as an assistant for MBCA Hall of Fame coach, Russ Adamson. His Cardinal teams won seven Conference titles and earned State Tournament appearances with three Section championships. The ’82-83 Cardinal team earned fourth place honors in the State Tournament.

The MBCA Hall of Honor has been established to honor those persons who have helped to improve/promote/ and or serve basketball in Minnesota. Honorees have been longtime supporters of their local teams or have given outstanding service to the game of basketball. Awards are given in four categories: Officials, Media, Coach - Head/Assistant, and Friend of Basketball. To be eligible for the Hall of Honor, a person must have been involved with basketball for at least 20 years. That person must be nominated by a MBCA member, the MBCA Executive Board, or the MBCA Hall of Fame committee.

The following individuals will be inducted as the initial members of the MBCA Hall of Honor in 2010:

• Jim Geske; Coach - First basketball coach at Mounds View H.S. and a “founding father” of the Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association.

• Frank Fee; Media - Broadcast career spanning over 36 years as the “Voice of the Crookston Pirates.” Member of the MSHSL Section 8 Committee and statistician for 8AA Boys and Girls basketball.

• Brad Larson, Assistant Coach – Served 38 years as an Assistant Basketball Coach at Owatonna H.S. , including ’88-’89 and ’89-’90 State Championship squads. State Assistant Coach of the Year in ’98-’99.

• Ken Lien, Friend of Basketball - Founder and Chairman of Mr. Basketball Committee for the 35 years of its existence. Recipient of MBCA Distinguished Service Award, 2001.

• Kwame McDonald, Media/Friend of Basketball – Columnist for Minneapolis Spokesman-Recorder and promoter/supporter of High School activities. Recipient of MBCA Distinguished Service Award, 2005.

Also, legendary Cold Spring Rocori coach Bob Brink will be honored with the Legends of the Game Award and Don Shelby of WCCO television will be presented with the MBCA Ambassador of Basketball Award.

Cretin-Derham Hall Adds to a Week 1 Football Theme
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/3/2010 11:22:45 PM

When the Cretin-Derham Hall football team participated in a scrimmage last Saturday at Hopkins, the worst happened. The Raiders’ top two running backs (plus a backup) went down with injuries, lending an air of uncertainty to Friday night’s season opener against Forest Lake at the University of St. Thomas.

But when all was said and done – and the reserves had gone out and run – the defending Class 5A state champions were just fine. With new faces seemingly everywhere in the lineup, Cretin had no trouble rolling past the Rangers 40-0.

On Thursday, I saw defending 1A champion Minneota defeat Adrian. Also this weekend, Totino-Grace ( last year’s 4A champ) defeated 5A Minnetonka, and Stephen-Argyle (nine-man), Waterville-Elysian-Morristown (2A) and New London-Spicer (3A) all won their first games of 2010.

Friday’s heroes for Cretin included sophomore running back James Onwualu (pictured at right), who rushed 27 times for 203 yards and two touchdowns, and junior quarterback Kevin Miley, another varsity rookie who completed 12 of 17 passes for 136 yards and three TDs. Junior Taylor Montero caught two of those scoring passes, adding to the youthful look of the Raiders.

The top-tier running backs, senior Andre Hunt and junior Kendrik Brewster, did not play. Hunt has had recurring knee problems and Brewster suffered a concussion last week. Their return to action will come soon enough, said Cretin coach Mike Scanlan.

“Their coming out will be next week (at White Bear Lake),” he said. “We got really banged up. We’re pretty deep at that spot.”

Miley is taking over for departed quarterback Mark Alt, who starred in last year’s Prep Bowl victory over Eden Prairie and now plays hockey at the University of Minnesota.

The Raiders lost two first-half fumbles but their defense was solid all evening, keeping Forest Lake backed up. The exceptional defensive effort negated opening-game mistakes made elsewhere.

“We had a lot of guys making their first start, there were a couple of mistakes, a couple of fumbles, wrong formations, forgetting to send somebody in motion. But that’s the way it goes,” Scanlan said. “I think Mark Alt was nervous in his first start, too.

“The sophomore running back, a kid who had never played before, did very well. I thought Miley played well, too.”

This may be the fastest defense Cretin has had in many years, which is a troublesome thought for the rest of the Suburban East Conference as well as Class 5A.

“Now, if we get somebody real big and powerful and they can go right at us, it may be problematic,” Scanlan said. “But until we find that, I think we can play with most people.”

SINCE CRETIN’S MOST famous graduate is Joe Mauer, this public-address announcement fit perfectly with Friday’s action: “This just in from the Twins game … The score is 1-1 and Joe Mauer has an RBI.”

The crowd was large for both teams, especially the student sections. Everybody had a good time, displayed great sportsmanship and the kids were more than happy to smile and scream whenever I pointed my camera in their direction. A few of them somehow ended up wearing MSHSL hats, which added a dash of style to the proceedings.

To get a taste for the action on the field and in the stands, check out the photo gallery (plus video of a Cretin touchdown) on the MSHSL Facebook page. The number of MSHSL Facebook fans is growing rapidly, so jump in and join us for the ride!

*Schools/teams John has visited: 33
*Miles John has driven: 1,599

--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

Minneota Makes A Strong Week 1 Statement
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/3/2010 1:00:38 AM

The Minneota Vikings finished the 2009 football season as the top team in Class 1A, and using their season-opening performance Thursday night as a measuring stick, they appear poised to make another run at a state championship.

The Vikings rolled past Adrian 49-12 in Adrian, taking advantage of mistakes by the Dragons and exhibiting a strong ground game and just enough of a passing attack to keep opponents off balance. First-year starting quarterback Beau Buysse, a senior, threw for two touchdowns and ran for one, Jacob Cheadle ran for two TDs and caught a scoring pass, and Brandon Anderson scored once on the ground.

Minneota’s big victory came in a rematch of last year’s Prep Bowl, a 42-21 victory over Adrian. Thursday’s decision in a Little Sioux Conference game gave Minneota a four-game winning streak against the Dragons.

(To see a photo gallery from the game, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.)

“It wasn’t perfect. But it was Week 1 and this was Adrian, a team that we expect will be the favorite in their section,” Minneota coach Chad Johnston said. “To come out with a win like this, I’m happy.

“Obviously we’ve got things to fix, we’ve got corrections to make, we had some botched assignments, some missed tackles, some not recognizing formations, but we’ve got a lot of kids with very little experience running around out there in a very big game. We’re going to build off this.”

WHEN I VISITED Minneota during preseason workouts, Johnston said he was optimistic despite the graduation of a dozen seniors. Quarterback Sam Derynck, who threw for 34 touchdowns in 2009, is among the now former Vikings. Buysse stepped into the quarterback job, and the prevailing wisdom was that Minneota’s running game would be in good hands with the return of Anderson (who ran for two TDs in the 2009 Prep Bowl) and Cheadle. The prevailing wisdom sure looked very wise Thursday night.

“We knew going into this year that we’d probably be a little more run-oriented, but Beau’s looked great,” Johnston said. “He worked hard all summer and he’s looked good in fall camp. We probably expected to throw it a little more tonight, but our running game was clicking and one of the things against Adrian is you want to keep their offense off the field.”

After Brock Bullerman put Adrian ahead 6-0 with a 27-yard touchdown run, it was all Minneota. Buysse scooted 20 yards for a first-quarter TD, and things began going south for Adrian when a low punt snap led to the punter’s knee touching the turf and the Vikings getting the ball on the Adrian 5. Cheadle ran in from there.

A long kickoff return by the Dragons was negated by a holding penalty, and before long Cheadle was off on a 35-yard scoring run. The score was 21-6 at halftime and there wasn’t much doubt after that.

“It doesn’t seem like we usually get a whole lot of breaks down here, and we got them tonight,” Johnston said. “We got a couple calls here and there, and those are things that can change the momentum. Overall, I was happy with how the kids played. We had a lot of kids step up.”

THE EVENING WAS spectacular for football. The weather was on the cool side, with a slight breeze. My concession-stand dinner was outstanding: a hamburger, a pork burger and a Diet Mountain Dew. The cheerleaders were in midseason form and the Adrian band was terrific.

Seventy-five minutes before kickoff, the Dragons coaches sat together in the coaches office while the players sat on the floor and leaned against the walls in a school corridor. Soon after, the pregame message to the Adrian seniors from coach Randy Strand was straightforward: “Here we are. It’s your senior year. If you don’t have some fire in your gut now, you shouldn’t be here.”

The instruction to the defense was just as clear: “Hit Buysse on every play, clean shots.”

This was small-town football at its finest. The teams walked the one block from the high school to the field by strolling down an alley, with back yards on both sides. The Adrian American Legion color guard presented the colors as the band played the anthem. I overheard an assistant coach from Minneota ask a counterpart from Adrian, “How much rain did you guys get down here last night?”

Johnston, proving to be an avid reader of John’s Journal, asked these questions when he saw me before the game: “How was the drive? You didn’t get slowed down by any local authorities, did you?” That was a needling reference to the speeding ticket I picked up in Renville on my way home from Minneota a few days earlier.

Nice line, coach. The only thing faster than my car is your football team.

I’LL BE BACK on a metro football field Friday night, visiting the University of St. Thomas to watch defending 5A state champion Cretin-Derham Hall meet Forest Lake in a Suburban East Conference game.

No more jokes about my heavy foot, please.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 31
*Miles John has driven: 1,559

--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

Game Night! It's Minneota at Adrian in Week 1
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/2/2010 12:18:52 PM

The football season kicks off tonight and tomorrow, and there are great matchups almost everywhere you look around Minnesota.

I will begin the campaign in southwest Minnesota, where our Spotlight Game has Adrian playing host to Minneota in a rematch of last year’s Class 1A state championship game.

Minneota opened and closed the 2009 season against Adrian, winning 43-13 in Week 1 and taking home a 42-21 victory in the Prep Bowl at the Metrodome. But this is a new season, of course, and both teams lost some very talented players to graduation.

This one is shaping up as a battle of the ground games, and the winner will get a leg up in the Little Sioux Conference race.

I’ll be in one of the team's locker rooms tonight, providing a behind-the-scenes look at what takes place. I'll post a game report right here on the Journal later this evening and I'll also be shooting lots of photos and video at the game, which will be posted on the MSHSL Facebook page.

Have a great football weekend, everybody!

--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

Two Harbors High School: A Lesson in Saving a Life
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/1/2010 1:31:02 PM

Anyone can save a life, and the volleyball players at Two Harbors know that fact as well as anyone.

At practice last week, one of the Agates collapsed in the gym. There was no panic, because the team knew what to do. One day earlier, coach Brooke Chaffee had talked to the players about what to do in case of such an emergency. The team had planned to hold a mock emergency run-through, but that was not needed after they experienced the real thing.

“Just the day before, we had written down who was going to do what,” Chaffee said.” Last year our basketball team did a mock run-through, and we were planning to do that the following day. We didn’t have to do that.”

The player who collapsed had a history of seizures, but she had not experienced a seizure for a number of years. Nonetheless, the coaches and players knew exactly what to do.

“In the middle of practice she fell down,” Chaffee said. “We realized she was having a seizure and I ran over to her, said ‘Somebody call 911,’ and that’s really all we had to do. One of the girls went to her phone and called the ambulance. Another girl ran to get the AED (automated external defibrillator), others went to the front and back doors to meet the ambulance, because we didn’t know where they would come in. And somebody ran to get the principal. Everybody just kind of got things done.”

The player was taken to a local hospital and everything turned out fine. That isn’t always the case, but the MSHSL’s “Anyone Can Save a Life” program continues to play a vital role in helping schools prepare for such emergencies. The goals of the program -- a partnership between the MSHSL and the Medtronic Foundation – include educating school communities on the symptoms and risk factors of sudden cardiac arrest, and how to react in such situations.

“I can’t thank the High School League enough for developing this program and pushing this program,” said Two Harbors athletic director Scott Ross.

Ross was on hand in March 2005 when Jarrett Brenner of Grand Rapids collapsed and died during an all-star basketball game in Duluth. It was discovered that Jarrett had a heart defect that caused his death. No AEDs were available that day.

“Jarrett was 20 miles away from here, and that scares everybody,” Ross said. “You don’t have to convince the coaches how important this is.”

Two Harbors has implemented the Anyone Can Save a Life program through education and practice runs. All coaches at the school are required to take AED and CPR training, and that has also been expanded to game supervisors, ticket sellers, concession people and others affiliated with sporting events.

After last week’s volleyball incident, Ross said, “I told our other teams, ‘This is why we do it.’ This was the real deal. It makes you feel good to know there’s a plan there. Even then, you don’t know if things will go right. You hope they do.”

It was Chaffee’s first experience of this kind, and “It was kind of scary, because we were not expecting it. We talked about it the next day and I told everyone how proud we were that they executed it so well. They were like, ‘Now we know what to expect.’

“It’s scary, but if you have a plan in place, it makes it less scary. You can’t just send people places. I wasn’t thinking ‘This needs to happen and that needs to happen.’ Everything just happened.”

For more information, click on "Anyone Can Save a Life" on the right side of this page.

--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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