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Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/30/2016 9:26:42 PM

John’s Top Five Concession Items
1. Buffalo football/ bison burgers
2. Grand Meadow football/ pork burgers
3. Stillwater soccer/ hot dogs
4. Montevideo football/ ice cream
5. Lakeville North cross-country/ chicken soup

Business And Fun Fuel Eagan Volleyball’s Brie Orr
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/29/2016 11:08:18 AM

At the state tournament in 2013, a ninth-grader from Eagan High School burst onto the Minnesota volleyball scene. In a bruising five-set victory over Delano in the Class 3A championship match, the youngster put up big numbers: 20 kills, 39 assists and 15 digs.

Brie Orr is now a senior for the Wildcats, who have played in the last three state title matches, winning in 2013 and 2015. I first wrote about Orr during the 2013 state tourney. Here is an excerpt:

There are moments, although not many, when Eagan volleyball player Brie Orr will say something that leaves her teammates smiling and shaking their heads a little. Taylr McNeil, the Wildcats’ senior star, put it this way: “She has her moments, when she’ll say something and we’ll be like, ‘You’re such a freshman.’ ”

After top-ranked Eagan ran its record this season to 17-0 on Tuesday night with a 3-0 South Suburban Conference victory at Lakeville North, I asked Orr (pictured) about the differences between being a freshman and a senior.

She smiled and said, “I have more of a leadership role on the team. But there’s the same good chemistry with the team.”

Solid chemistry has been a part of the Wildcats’ long volleyball tradition. Eagan has won six state championships in the last 18 years. There were no seniors on last year’s team, so the 2016 Wildcats have been pegged as a solid favorite to repeat as state champs.

They have not done anything to dispel that prediction so far this season. Only three teams -- East Ridge, Shakopee and Prior Lake (twice) – have managed to win one set against the Wildcats. Eagan has won its matches by a total score of 43-4.

Orr was a co-captain last season and serves in the same capacity this season along with senior Alyssa Doucette and junior McKenna Melville. Eagan coach Kathy Gillen, who was inducted into the Minnesota Volleyball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2014, said Brie has taken on a stronger leadership role as the years have gone by.

“She had great mentors when she was younger,” said Gillen (pictured). “Taylr McNeil was one of her mentors who would calm her down. And now Brie’s doing the same thing with the younger players. If you look at her, she doesn’t flash. She’ll hit a great kill and she’ll run back to serve. That’s part of her success; she doesn’t get rattled, either. She hits a couple out and she stays level all the time. She’s come a long way with that. She was a lot more emotional when she was a younger player.”

Much like Orr, the Wildcats are an even-keel outfit that remains calm when things aren’t going well and they don’t do much celebrating at big points.

“Yes, for sure,” Orr said. “We’re not too excited and we don’t get too low. We keep it steady all the time. That’s what we want to be as a team: Business and fun.”

That combination of business and fun is clear when watching the Wildcats. Lakeville North, which is ranked 10th in Class 3A, gave Eagan a big test in Tuesday’s opening set. The Panthers broke loose from a 22-22 tie and led 24-22 – one point from winning the set – before Eagan scored four consecutive points to win 26-24.

One of those points was a thunderous kill by Orr. She ended the second set with another battering ram of a kill, blasting the ball from one side of the court to the other and into the scorer’s table with a bang. The final score was 26-24, 25-18, 25-17.

“Every team comes out like Lakeville North came out tonight,” said Gillen. “Every team comes out firing. The good thing is that we’ve kind of taken on Bri’s personality. We don’t get too rattled, we don’t try to do too much, and hopefully things work out.”

At 5-foot-10, Brie is a natural setter and plays that position in Junior Olympic volleyball. But for the Wildcats she spends a lot of quality time at the net, too.

“Look how far she’s come as a hitter, and a left-side hitter to top it off,” Gillen said. “Usually the setters are right-side hitters and I’m asking her to play left for a couple of rotations on top of it. Where she’s come in the last three years, especially being a hitter, you see her pick the court apart. She’s amazing. She makes shots that people can’t even think about trying; even if they practice they can’t make them. And we don’t practice a lot of that.”

Brie is on track to graduate from high school in December. She will play college volleyball at the University of Iowa, moving to Iowa City in January. As her high school days count down, her leadership role on the team includes a younger player named Kennedi Orr … Brie’s little sister.

Kennedi, who made the varsity team as a 12-year-old seventh-grader last year, is now a 5-foot-10 eighth-grader who sees lots of playing time.

“Kennedi has a lot of big sisters on this team,” Gillen said. “You’ll see McKenna say to her, ‘This is what you need to do,’ and ‘You’re OK.’ A lot of kids have taken her under their wing and know the player that she is going to be.

“Look at Kennedi, and that was Brie five years ago. So Kennedi will be that magical player, and she already does some magical things as an eighth-grader. And Kennedi will be that leader someday, too.”

Which begs an obvious question: Do Brie and Kennedi have any younger sisters?

“No, they don’t,” Gillen said with a chuckle. “I’ll have to talk to those parents, huh?”

*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 66
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 2,427

This Week's Football Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/28/2016 11:01:39 PM

The Associated Press state high school football polls for the week of September 28 (first-place votes in parentheses, record and total points as voted upon by a statewide panel of prep sportswriters):

School Total Points Prv
1. Totino-Grace (6) (4-0) 69 1
2. Lakeville North (1) (4-0) 63 2
3. Eden Prairie (3-1) 54 3
4. Rosemount (4-0) 49 4
5. Cretin-Derham Hall (4-0) 44 6
6. Minnetonka (4-0) 34 T7
7. East Ridge (3-1) 30 9
8. Champlin Park (3-1) 18 NR
9. Blaine (3-1) 10 5
(tie) Burnsville (3-1) 10 NR
Others receiving votes: Mounds View 4.

School Total Points Prv
1. Elk River (4) (4-0) 80 5
2. Spring Lake Park (4-0) 77 3
3. Mankato West (4) (4-0) 75 2
4. Mahtomedi (4-0) 63 4
5. Chanhassen (1) (4-0) 53 6
6. Alexandria (4-0) 46 7
7. St. Michael-Albertville (3-1) 23 1
8. Robbinsdale Cooper (4-0) 21 NR
9. St. Cloud Tech (4-0) 18 NR
10. Rogers (3-1) 13 9
(tie) SMB-Wolfpack (4-0) 13 T10
Others receiving votes: Waconia 7, Rochester Mayo 6.

School Total Points Prv
1. South St. Paul (5) (4-0) 94 T2
2. Hutchinson (4) (4-0) 91 T1
3. Marshall (1) (4-0) 82 3
4. Fridley (4-0) 68 5
5. Mound-Westonka (4-0) 54 6
6. Hermantown (4-0) 42 8
7. Winona (4-0) 28 NR
8. Fergus Falls (4-0) 25 NR
9. Becker (2-2) 24 10
10. Rocori (3-1) 19 4
Others receiving votes: Benilde-St. Margaret's 7, Mankato East 6, Zimmerman 4, Stewartville 3, Waseca 2, Detroit Lakes 1.

School Total Points Prv
1. St. Croix Lutheran (5) (4-0) 75 1
2. Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton (2) (4-0) 68 2
3. Jackson County Central (1) (4-0) 63 4
4. Rochester Lourdes (4-0) 61 6
5. Litchfield (4-0) 41 9
6. Minneapolis Henry (4-0) 25 NR
7. Pierz (3-1) 22 NR
8. Fairmont (3-1) 20 3
9. Morris Area-Chokio-Alberta (4-0) 18 NR
10. Proctor (3-1) 15 10
Others receiving votes: Belle Plaine 12, Albany 6, Greenway-Nashwauk-Keewatin 3, Pine Island 3, Park Rapids 2, Perham 2, Providence Academy 2, Annandale 1, Mora 1.

School Total Points Prv
1. Caledonia (6) (4-0) 69 1
2. Barnesville (1) (4-0) 63 3
3. Pillager (4-0) 49 6
4. Redwood Valley (4-0) 48 7
5. Eveleth-Gilbert (4-0) 36 9
6. Zumbrota-Mazeppa (4-0) 28 NR
7. Eden Valley-Watkins (3-1) 23 4
8. Royalton (4-0) 17 NR
9. Moose Lake Willow River (3-1) 13 2
(tie) Maple River (3-1) 13 NR
Others receiving votes: Hawley 12, Maple Lake 8, Crosby-Ironton 3, Staples-Motley 2, St. Agnes 1.

School Total Points Prv
1. Minneota (8) (4-0) 80 1
2. Minneapolis North (4-0) 71 2
3. BOLD (4-0) 55 5
4. Rushford-Peterson (4-0) 47 4
5. Hinckley-Finlayson (4-0) 43 NR
6. Wabasso (3-1) 27 6
7. Pine River-Backus (4-0) 21 NR
(tie) Fillmore Central (3-1) 21 NR
9. Adrian (3-1) 17 NR
10. Dawson-Boyd (3-1) 16 9
Others receiving votes: Walker-Hackensack-Akeley 12, Mahnomen 10, Goodhue 8, Mayer Lutheran 6, Braham 2, Murray County Central 2, Red Rock Central 1, Upsala-Swanville 1.

School Total Points Prv
1. Grand Meadow (4) (4-0) 54 1
2. Spring Grove (1) (4-0) 51 2
3. Waubun (1) (4-0) 47 4
4. Cleveland (4-0) 42 3
5. Edgerton-Ellsworth (4-0) 30 T5
6. Ely (4-0) 28 T5
7. Nevis (4-0) 25 8
8. Mountain Iron-Buhl (4-0) 17 7
9. Verndale (5-0) 12 NR
10. Cromwell (3-0) 11 NR
Others receiving votes: Wheaton-Herman-Norcross 8, Ada-Borup 2, Houston 2, North Woods 1.

Montevideo: Where Homecoming Is King
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/26/2016 9:21:53 AM

MONTEVIDEO – Let’s start this essay with the final act of wonderfulness I witnessed during Homecoming Day in Montevideo, home of the Thunder Hawks and some of the nicest people you will ever come across. Friday was big, filled with special events. However, the final moment for me was not a big thing but a little thing, a little thing that exemplifies what makes high school activities so special.

The Thunder Hawks football team had just lost the Homecoming game to Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City. The visiting Falcons led 3-0 at halftime in a game dominated by defense, ACGC’s Jeremy Nelson ran for two short touchdowns in the second half and the Falcons won 24-0.

As the boys of Montevideo left the field to exit the stadium and make the short hike across 17th Street to their school, they walked through a tunnel of humanity. Parents, grandparents, family, friends, little kids and old timers, their fans slapped them on their big shoulder pads, patted the top of their helmets, said “Good game” and “Good job” and wished them luck next week.

I was standing with Montevideo activities director Bob Grey, watching this all take place. I said to Bob what came to mind after spending the day in town: “Bob, these kids are so lucky to grow up here.”

Montevideo is the county seat of Chippewa County, pretty much equidistant between the Twin Cities and Sioux Falls, S.D.; two and a half hours due west of the Twin Cities and two and a half hours northeast of Sioux Falls. It is home to 5,300-some proud souls and has a sister city in Montevideo, Uruguay; a statue of José Artigas, the father of Uruguayan independence, stands proudly in downtown Montevideo, Minnesota.

I see a lot of great things everywhere I go in Minnesota. This trip to Montevideo was a day-long affair, though, making it a very enjoyable deep dive. There was a pep rally featuring a live cow, a wonderful small-town Homecoming parade, free hot dogs before the football game, and a lovely autumn evening to cap it off.

The afternoon pep rally was for everybody, and I mean everybody. Every kid who attends public school in Montevideo crammed into the high school gym, a feat that involved bus rides and other high-wire logistics in herding tiny little tots, classroom by classroom, to their proper seating locations. When all were in place, 1,450 humans – plus teachers and staff – were soon on their feet screaming and clapping for the Thunder Hawk teams.

Football, volleyball, cross-country, girls swimming, girls tennis teams; all were highlighted under the direction of Kyle Goslee, who teaches physical education and coaches softball when he isn’t masterfully ceremony-ing pep rallies with all the screaming gusto of a combination drill sergeant and professional wrestler. (Here’s a brief excerpt from Kyle’s repertoire: “WOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!”)

The cheerleaders scripted many of the activities, including a round-the-gym flurry of cheers from each class, all 13 of ‘em. The kindergarteners kicked it off, following the cheerleaders’ chants and finishing with a very high-pitched “We are the Class of 2029!” And so it went right up to the seniors in the Class of 2017. There were sleeping-bag races, blindfolds and other tomfoolery, and much anticipation for Sammy the cow.

Sammy is not much of a cow, really. She was small enough to be carried into the gym in the arms of a young man and little Sammy stood still while a selectee squatted down and gave her a smooch on the snout. Sammy was returned to her home on the range at that point, and the tarp that had been placed on the gym floor came away unscathed.

The parade. Oh my, the parade. Those little kids sat on the curbs along 17th Street – also known as Thunder Hawk Drive – and waited until it was time to spring into action and scramble for pieces of candy as if they were hundred-dollar bills. The parade was led by the Montevideo Volunteer Fire Department’s largest firetruck, a slow-rolling mastodon of a thing carrying several humans on top … although they were so high in the air it was hard to be specific about details.

There were pickup trucks carrying Homecoming royalty, flatbed trailers carrying teams and clubs, a cute contingent on foot representing Montevideo Elementary School, the great Thunder Hawk marching band, and a float featuring a giant inflatable Minnesota Viking and a large fake can of soup bearing the label “Cream of Falcon Soup” (the ACGC Falcons disrupted that prediction).

As the parade ended, folks lined up for freshly grilled, free hot dogs. Before long the Thunder Hawks and Falcons were on the football field, preparing for the ballgame. Montevideo head coach David Vik took a swig of Diet Squirt, placing the can on the track behind the bench as kickoff came.

For much of the evening, the punters – ACGC’s Adam Johnson and Montevideo’s Reece Kuhlmann – were the busiest guys in town. Another leg specialist, Frederick Hansen, kicked a 24-yard field goal for the Falcons late in the first quarter. The offensive dam didn’t exactly bust after that; the next scoring came midway through the third quarter.

The band members, still in uniform, sat in the stands and entertained everyone in grand style, just as they had done several hours earlier at the pep rally and again during the parade. High school students chatted and cheered, adults handed over cash to little kids bent on attacking the concession stand, the coaches coached and the players played.

The football uniforms displayed some mud by game’s end and the hometown Thunder Hawks came out on the short end of the scoreboard. But as the boys walked off the field, they were met by all those other people who live in their town.

All those lucky people.

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

*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 64
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 2,417

Volleyball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/25/2016 11:04:30 PM

This week's volleyball rankings, provided by the Minnesota Volleyball Coaches Association...

1. Eagan (17) - 255
2. Champlin Park - 227
3. Lakeville South - 215
4. Prior Lake - 203
5. Hopkins - 189
6. Wayzata - 161
7. Shakopee - 128
8. Roseville - 124
9. North St. Paul - 119
10. Lakeville North - 113
Others Receiving Votes: Eden Prairie - 13, Bloomington Jefferson - 13, Blaine - 12, Cretin-Derham Hall - 7, Rochester Mayo - 6

1. Kenyon-Wanamingo (11) - 193
2. Maple Lake (2) - 183
3. Rocori - 157
4. Belle Plaine - 156
5. Kasson-Mantorville - 129
6. Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta - 127
7. Stewartville - 118
8. Hill-Murray - 78
9. Concordia Academy - 60
10. SW Christian - 58
Others Receiving Votes: Roseau - 53, Jackson County Central - 14, Perham - 13, Sauk Centre - 8, Glencoe-Silver Lake - 6, Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton - 6, Holy Angels - 6

1. Bethlehem Academy (9) - 202
2. Mayer Lutheran (4) - 195
3. Tracy-Milroy-Balaton (1) - 189
4. Heritage Christian - 156
5. Waterville-Elysian-Morristown - 125
6. Minneota - 119
7. Caledonia - 111
8. Kittson County - 96
9. Mabel-Canton - 89
10. Hayfield - 65
Others Receiving Votes: Underwood - 48, Stephen Argyle - 41, Verndale - 21, Wabasso - 13

Girls Tennis Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/25/2016 9:50:40 PM

This week's girls tennis rankings, provided by the Minnesota Tennis Coaches Association...

1 Blake
2 Breck
3 Rochester Lourdes
4 St. James
5 Foley
6 Holy Family Catholic
7 Minnewaska
8 Pine City
9 Litchfield
tie 10 Eveleth-Gilbert
tie 10 Roseau

1 Libby Rickeman, Blake
2 Izabella Edin, Staples-Motley
3 Arlina Shen, Blake
4 Katie Mulvey, Trinity at River Ridge
5 Clare Palen, Rochester Lourdes
6 Cindy Li, Winona Cotter
7 Natalie Cahill, Pine City
8 Lainey Axell, Blake
9 Cora Delich, Eveleth-Gilbert
tie 10 Ashley Frederickson, St. James
tie 10 Kayla McIver, Foley

1 St. Cloud Tech
2 Edina
3 Eagan
4 Prior Lake
5 Mahtomedi
6 Hopkins
7 Mounds View
8 Eastview
9 Minnetonka
tie 10 Delano
tie 10 Elk River

1 Sophie Reddy, Edina
2 Isabella Lambert, Minnetonka
3 Meagan Brown, Elk River
4 Natalie Lorentz, St. Louis Park
5 Maddie Suk, Hopkins
6 Samantha Nichols, Eagan
7 Alexandra Kopiecki, Mounds View
8 Karin Young, Eastview
9 Savanna Crowell, Prior Lake
tie 10 Taylor Tarrolly, St. Cloud Tech
tie 10 Zoe Klass Warch , St. Paul Central

Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/24/2016 3:51:57 PM

John’s Top Five Concession Items
1. Buffalo football/ bison burgers
2. Stillwater soccer/ hot dogs
3. Montevideo football/ ice cream
4. Lakeville North cross-country/ chicken soup
5. Bethlehem Academy volleyball/ hot dogs

Champlin Park Tennis: ‘We All Cheer For Each Other’
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/22/2016 11:16:09 AM

Tuesday was an important day for the Champlin Park High School girls tennis team. It was photo day, with a professional photographer set up on the courts to shoot individual and team photos. Practice was put on pause for the day and fun reigned.

As they waited their turn in front of the camera, the 65 athletes hung out with their teammates; laughing, chatting, playing with coach Luke Shaw’s dog Ollie. Sixty-one of the tennis players wore game uniforms: tank tops and shorts. Four of them were dressed a little differently: long sleeves, athletic pants and hijabs, which are head scarves worn by Muslim women.

They may not have all dressed the same, but the 65 Rebels tennis players had everything else imaginable in common, including their enjoyment of tennis. They talked, they sang, they danced.

“I like being with friends and hanging out. It’s a sport I enjoy,” said ninth-grader Alisha Remtulla. Junior Arshia Hussain added, “I like the sense of community it has. We all cheer for each other.”

Alisha and Arshia were wearing something new to this year’s uniforms for the Muslim players. Their hijabs included team logos: rackets and the words “Rebel Tennis.”

The team hijabs, created by the players with help from the coaches, are a source of pride for everyone.

“As a team, we’re trying to reflect the diversity of our school,” Shaw said. “We have a large team with 65 kids and each year it gets a little more diverse. By having these young Muslim women walking through the halls wearing their tennis gear, it’s showing other young Muslim women that there’s a place for them on our tennis team. We’re glad they’re willing to promote our team through team hijabs.”

Senior Fatema Nathu is the most experienced tennis player among the Muslim girls. She plays on the varsity squad while the others – Alisha, Arshia and sophomore Hanaan Yusuf (who wore a “Rebels Lacrosse Superfan” t-shirt -- play on lower-level teams. All four were born in the U.S.; their parents or grandparents came to this country from all over the world.

“I’ve played tennis on and off since I was 6,” Fatema said. “I love how it’s an individual sport and a team sport. You get to work with yourself but you’re also together as a team. You get the best of both worlds.”

Having Muslim athletes as teammates has been a positive for all the Champlin Park players.

“Throughout our school we’re very diverse,” said senior Stacy Smith. “Our team is kind of leading others.”

Adding team logos to the hijabs this year provided a boost to team pride.

Fatema said, “I feel like it’s a really big deal because as Muslim athletes no one really pays attention to us, you could say. We are recognized as other athletes but with the hijab you’re being included with the uniform and you feel welcome and a part of something.”

Arshia added, “I think it’s a big step up for our team as well as our school. We’re representing our school and our tennis team. It’s specific to us and I really like how it says ‘Rebel Tennis.’ ”

Arshia’s mother, Nausheena Hussain, said, “Last year she absolutely loved being on the tennis team. That team, it feels like family. In high school you want to fit in, you want to be accepted. And it’s hard when you don’t look like the dominant culture and you visibly stand out. The coaches have been really great.

“Can you just imagine the feeling of somebody caring about the way you incorporate your faith into your extracurricular activities? It gave them the feeling that they truly are family. The coaches are like second parents to these kids. I’m really thankful they were able to have these hijabs for the girls.”

The response to the logo hijabs from teammates, other teams and parents from other schools has been positive.

“When we got them, people were saying things like, ‘Oh, I love that and it’s so amazing that our team got those,’ ” Arshia said. “Playing at matches, your opponent will tell you that they really like your gear, too.”

Alishia said, “Even walking across to go somewhere, all the parents will be like, ‘Oh, that’s so cool.’ They have you turn you head and they’ll say, ‘Oh, this is so great that the school is doing this for you.’ ”

Shaw said the Muslim team members are all quiet, respectful kids and great teammates.

“It’s been very positive. The girls helped design (the logo hijabs) and get them done. We try to do our best to be inclusive and our hope is that the younger girls see it, come out and be a part of our team, too.”

The Rebels tennis players are happy to be examples for other Muslims who might be considering joining teams.

“It’s a great way to encourage other Muslim athletes, not just here but in other districts and hopefully soon around the world,” Fatema said. “So people aren’t afraid to come out of their bubble just because they’re thinking, ‘Oh, I wear hijab so I won’t be able to play.’ You can do whatever you want. The head scarf doesn’t restrict you from doing anything you want to do.”

--To see a photo gallery from the Champlin Park tennis team, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 62
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 2,117

This Week's Football Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/21/2016 5:03:23 PM

The Associated Press state high school football polls for the week of September 21 (first-place votes in parentheses, record and total points as voted upon by a statewide panel of prep sportswriters).

School Total Points Prv
1. Totino-Grace (5) (3-0) 59 1
2. Lakeville North (1) (3-0) 55 2
3. Eden Prairie (2-1) 43 4
4. Rosemount (3-0) 40 6
5. Blaine (3-0) 38 5
6. Cretin-Derham Hall (3-0) 35 7
7. Minnetonka (3-0) 17 NR
(tie) Edina (2-1) 17 NR
9. East Ridge (2-1) 15 10
10. Maple Grove (2-1) 8 3
Others receiving votes: Burnsville 2, Stillwater 1.

School Total Points Prv
1. St. Michael-Albertville (7) (3-0) 79 1
2. Mankato West (3-0) 68 2
3. Spring Lake Park (3-0) 63 3
4. Mahtomedi (3-0) 52 4
5. Elk River (3-0) 51 5
6. Chanhassen (1) (3-0) 42 7
7. Alexandria (3-0) 30 8
8. Apple Valley (2-1) 15 9
9. Rogers (2-1) 11 6
10. SMB-Wolfpack (3-0) 8 10
(tie)Northfield (3-0) 8 NR
Others receiving votes: Waconia 4, St. Cloud Tech 3, Robbinsdale Cooper 3, Rochester Mayo 2, Chaska 1.

School Total Points Prv
1. Hutchinson (3) (3-0) 83 2
(tie) South St. Paul (6) (3-0) 83 1
3. Marshall (3-0) 69 3
4. Rocori (3-0) 66 4
5. Fridley (3-0) 47 5
6. Mound-Westonka (3-0) 36 6
7. Zimmerman (3-0) 32 8
(tie) Hermantown (3-0) 32 7
9. Kasson-Mantorville (3-0) 15 NR
10. Becker (1-2) 8 9
Others receiving votes: Benilde-St. Margaret's 7, Winona 6, Fergus Falls 6, Stewartville 2, Cloquet 2, Faribault 1.

School Total Points Prv
1. St. Croix Lutheran (4) (3-0) 71 2
2. Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton (2) (3-0) 70 3
3. Fairmont (3-0) 59 5
4. Jackson County Central (1) (3-0) 57 4
5. Belle Plaine (3-0) 51 6
6. Rochester Lourdes (3-0) 46 7
7. Tri-City United (1) (2-1) 19 1
8. Park Rapids (3-0) 16 NR
9. Litchfield (3-0) 14 NR
10. Proctor (2-1) 11 8
Others receiving votes: Morris Area-Chokio-Alberta 10, Annandale 6, Luverne 4, Minneapolis Henry 4, Pierz 2.

School Total Points Prv
1. Caledonia (7) (3-0) 70 1
2. Moose Lake Willow River (3-0) 62 2
3. Barnesville (3-0) 56 3
4. Eden Valley-Watkins (3-0) 44 4
5. Maple Lake (3-0) 41 5
6. Pillager (3-0) 31 6
7. Redwood Valley (3-0) 26 7
8. Lewiston-Altura (3-0) 20 8
9. Eveleth-Gilbert (3-0) 15 NR
10. Hawley (3-0) 11 NR
Others receiving votes: Zumbrota-Mazeppa 4, Crosby-Ironton 2, Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial 1, Royalton 1, Staples-Motley 1.

School Total Points Prv
1. Minneota (7) (3-0) 70 1
2. Minneapolis North (3-0) 61 2
3. Browerville (3-0) 56 4
4. Rushford-Peterson (3-0) 42 6
5. BOLD (3-0) 36 8
6. Wabasso (2-1) 22 T10
(tie) Polk County West (3-0) 22 T10
8. Mayer Lutheran (3-0) 18 NR
9. Dawson-Boyd (3-0) 13 NR
10. Murray County Central (3-0) 11 NR
(tie)Parkers Prairie (3-0) 11 NR
Others receiving votes: Pine River-Backus 8, Adrian 4, Goodhue 4, Walker-Hackensack-Akeley 3, Hayfield 1, Hinckley-Finlayson 1, Sleepy Eye St. Mary's 1, Fillmore Central 1.

School Total Points Prv
1. Grand Meadow (6) (3-0) 60 1
2. Spring Grove (3-0) 53 2
3. Cleveland (2-1) 46 3
4. Waubun (3-0) 42 4
5. Edgerton Ellsworth (3-0) 30 6
(tie) Ely (3-0) 30 5
7. Mountain Iron-Buhl (4-0) 20 8
8. Nevis (3-0) 17 9
9. Ada-Borup (3-0) 8 NR
10. Wheaton-Herman-Norcross (3-0) 7 NR
Others receiving votes: Cromwell 5, Silver Bay 4, Mountain Lake Area 3, Verndale 2, North Woods 1, Hills-Beaver Creek 1, Lanesboro 1.

Washburn Girls Soccer: A Midseason Lesson
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/20/2016 12:02:15 AM

The season didn’t come tumbling down for the Minneapolis Washburn girls soccer team Monday night. Yes, the Millers suffered their first loss of the season in a 5-2 decision at Eagan, the two-time defending state champions in Class 2A, but it was a learning experience and there is plenty of season yet to be played.

Molly Busch had three goals and Carly Czaplewski scored twice for Eagan (6-2-1), which is ranked eighth in 2A. Washburn got goals from Kaitlyn Villars and Niki Ryan, but coming back from a 3-0 first-half deficit wasn’t in the cards for the Millers (7-1-1), who are ranked second in 2A behind Wayzata.

“Part of it is, as I was telling the girls, it’s good that it’s midseason, it’s non-conference, it’s non-section to get something like this,” said Washburn co-coach Reuben Ndely. “This will prepare us for the future.”

Washburn is known as a strong soccer school. The girls were Class 1A state runners-up in 2014 and the Millers boys reached the Class 2A state semifinals last season. The girls also now play in Class 2A, and Monday’s game against Eagan was typical of the competition in 2A.

A year ago, Washburn was one of only two teams to defeat Eagan; the Millers trailed 1-0 before rallying to win 4-1. That fact gave the Millers a dose of confidence going into Monday’s rematch.

“We probably expected a win coming into this game,” said Ryan. “Last year we won 4-1 and it was a big deal, we were really excited because they won state. We probably came in a little too cocky, but once the first half happened we got our heads straight.”

Eagan coach Turk Ozturk said that based on last season’s match with the Millers, he knew Monday’s contest would be tough.

“I think they’re a very good team and they’re very well-coached. They have a lot of skill, they have very smart players, they can attack and they can score on anyone in the state. We had to make adjustments and play more of a defensive game and look for more of a counter-attack approach.

“This is a great win, this is a big win for us.”

Ndely and co-coach Cheryl Peterson have been at Washburn for nearly a decade, and the girls soccer program has made great strides not only in success but in depth.

“We barely had two teams (in the first year),” Peterson said. “We had a varsity and a JV and some girls had to play both. It’s really grown. It speaks to the community and the strength of the school. We added one team the next year and then a fourth team two or three years later. We’ve had a lot of good soccer players, a lot of good student-athletes, a great community.”

The move from Class 1A to 2A, based on enrollment, hasn’t changed the way the Millers approach a full season or a single game. Having been in the top echelon of 1A before moving to 2A was a good jumping-off point.

“2A soccer is more competitive,” Ndely said. “But the teams that are strong in 1A, those teams can definitely play in 2A.”

Millers junior Charlotte DeVaughn said the team focuses more on playing their best rather than who they’re facing.

“We play our game, no matter who we’re playing,” she said. “I think it’s important for us to come out strong no matter the opponent. I think we’re going to bounce back from this. We’re going to learn. Like our coach said, it was important to have this game early on so we could learn and grow from this.”

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

*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 59
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 1,947

Volleyball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/19/2016 11:47:57 AM

This week's volleyball rankings, provided to the MSHSL by the volleyball coaches association.

1. Eagan (16) - 240
2. Lakeville South - 224
3. Champlin Park - 197
4. Hopkins - 186
5. Wayzata - 177
6. Prior Lake - 147
7. Lakeville North - 142
8. Shakopee - 137
9. North St. Paul - 74
10. Blaine - 47
Others Receiving Votes: Roseville - 38, Bloomington Jefferson - 25, Rochester Mayo - 20, Northfield - 13, Rosemount - 7, Eden Prairie - 6

1. Maple Lake (7) - 186
2. Belle Plaine (2) - 179
3. Kenyon-Wanamingo (4) - 175
4. Rocori - 160
5. Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta - 142
6. Stewartville - 110
7. Roseau - 103
8. Hill-Murray - 97
9. Kasson-Mantorville - 87
10. Concordia Academy - 68
Others Receiving Votes: Jackson County Central - 30, SW Christian - 16, Byron - 6, Sauk Centre - 6

1. Bethlehem Academy (7) - 200
2. Tracy-Milroy-Balaton (5) - 199
3. Mabel-Canton (1) - 175
4. Mayer Lutheran (1) - 170
5. Heritage Christian - 144
5. Waterville-Elysian-Morristown - 155
7. Kittson County - 116
8. Caledonia - 114
9. Hayfield - 91
10. Minneota - 76
Others Receiving Votes: Verndale - 23, Underwood - 12, Stephen Argyle - 6

Girls Tennis Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/19/2016 11:46:57 AM

This week's girls tennis rankings, provided to the MSHSL by the tennis coaches association.

1 Blake
2 Breck
3 Rochester Lourdes
4 St. James
5 Foley
6 Holy Family Catholic
7 Minnewaska
8 Virginia
9 Litchfield
10 Pine City

1 Libby Rickeman. Blake
2 Izabella Edin, Staples-Motley
3 Arlina Shen, Blake
4 Katie Mulvey, Trinity at River Ridge
5 Cindy Li, Winona Cotter
6 Clare Palen, Rochester Lourdes
7 Natalie Cahill, Pine City
8 Lainey Axell, Blake
9 Cora Delich, Eveleth-Gilbert
tie 10 Ashley Frederickson, St. James
tie 10 Kayla McIver, Foley

1 St. Cloud Tech
2 Edina
3 Prior Lake
4 Eagan
5 Mahtomedi
6 Hopkins
7 Minnetonka
8 Delano
9 Mounds View
tie 10 Eastview
tie 10 Wayzata

1 Isabella Lambert, Minnetonka
2 Meagan Brown, Elk River
3 Sophie Reddy, Edina
4 Natalie Lorentz, St. Louis Park
5 Maddie Suk, Hopkins
6 Karin Young, Eastview
7 Savanna Crowell, Prior Lake
8 Alexandra Kopiecki, Mounds View
9 Taylor Tarrolly, St. Cloud Tech
tie 10 Samantha Nichols, Eagan
tie 10 Zoe Klass Warch, St. Paul Central

Football Officials Go Above And Beyond For Tackle Cancer
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/17/2016 2:59:19 PM

A crew of football officials went above and beyond Friday night during a Tackle Cancer game in Waseca.

The officials -- Jake Kloeckner, Butch Huntley, Scott Retterath, Larry Wilson and Lee Schumann -- donated their night's pay to the cause!

Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/17/2016 2:57:13 PM

John’s Top Five Concession Items
1. Buffalo football/ bison burgers
2. Stillwater soccer/ hot dogs
3. Lakeville South football/ hot dogs
4. Lakeville North cross-country/ chicken soup
5. Bethlehem Academy volleyball/ hot dogs

A Hometown Coach Returns To His Other Hometown
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/16/2016 11:41:50 AM

NEW ULM – To the unaware eye, there was an odd scene after Thursday night’s football game between the Marshall Tigers and New Ulm Eagles. One of the Marshall coaches was smiling and laughing with several players wearing purple … New Ulm purple. It looked like old friends who were catching up.

And that’s exactly what it was.

Tony Ortmann is a Marshall assistant coach. He is the defensive coordinator, and his band of Tigers defenders played a stellar game Thursday, as did the offense. Marshall, the third-ranked team in Class 4A, raised its record to 3-0 with a 58-14 victory over the Eagles. Through three games, the Tigers have outscored their opponents 166-34.

Here’s the deal, though: For the previous five years Ortmann was the head coach in New Ulm. So Thursday’s game was a homecoming of sorts, a reunion with the boys in purple.

The outcome of the game wasn’t in serious doubt after little more than one quarter had been played. Marshall scored on its first two possessions and held a 19-0 lead two and a half minutes into the second quarter. It was 39-0 at halftime. Junior running back Jefferson Lee – who led the state in touchdowns last season -- scored five TDs on Thursday.

After the game was over, the teams shook hands and then kneeled in front of their respective coaches for a few words, as is tradition, in the two end zones. A couple minutes later, New Ulm Eagles began streaming to the other end of the field for handshakes, hands on shoulder pads and smiles with their former coach.

“There are quite a few coaches who are still on the (New Ulm) staff,” Ortmann said. “They’re all great guys. Leaving my friends and those kids, I’ve never had to make a decision so hard in my life.”

Coaching and teaching in Marshall meant Ortmann, his wife Brooke and their two young daughters could return home. He was a three-sport athlete before graduating from Marshall in 2002, and he played football at Southwest Minnesota State in Marshall.

Ortmann was in New Ulm for eight years. He was a volunteer assistant football coach in his first year, became defensive coordinator and then head coach.

Earlier in the week Ortmann told me, “I really look forward to the game, and it’s not a game where you’re looking to beat someone hard. I’m excited to see the kids and the coaches I coached with. I’m excited to see the kids play. After having been part of their lives for the past few years, I want to see how they progress and continue that bond with them.”

The game conditions were not optimal. Rain began falling Thursday afternoon and didn’t stop until the second quarter. The grass at Johnson Field was wet and slick, and the bench areas were nothing but mud. Johnson Field takes a beating every year, because it’s the home field for New Ulm, New Ulm Cathedral and Minnesota Valley Lutheran. The Marshall-New Ulm game was played Thursday because Cathedral and Minnesota Valley Lutheran played there Friday night.

The Eagles are soon to exit Johnson Field, however. New Ulm High School moved into a spacious new building this fall, complete with first-rate athletic facilities. Among those is a football stadium with artificial turf, and it’s hoped the stadium will be ready to host its first game for the Eagles homecoming contest against Belle Plaine on Sept. 30.

Marshall’s team is built largely on speed, along with talented linemen led by 6-foot-6, 305-pound senior Blaise Andries, who has committed to the University of Minnesota. If there was any speculation that a wet track would slow the Tigers on Thursday, it disintegrated quickly. Marshall also got some breaks.

The Tigers drove 80 yards on their first possession. Quarterback Trey Lance fumbled into the end zone and teammate Ryan VanMoer fell on the ball for a touchdown. Lance later hit Reece Winkelman for a 35-yard score, and Lee returned a kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown and ran 68 yards for another.

Ortmann played dozens of high school and college games at Southwest State, but Johnson Field remains a home field. His strong connections made leaving New Ulm a little difficult.

“There was one school and one town we would be willing to leave New Ulm for, and that was to get back home near our families,” he said. “We both have siblings around and it’s a great time to be back home and be with family. Our kids were a big part of our decision. They’re not in school yet. They have cousins in Marshall and our daughters absolutely love their cousins.”

Amid the postgame smiles, Ortmann had the best of everything: A nice win by the hometown team that he helps coach, and the chance to reunite with his former colleagues and players in New Ulm.

“It’s been fun seeing the kids,” he said. “It was fun to watch them make some good plays and see our kids execute at the same time.”

That’s a win-win.

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

*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 43
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 1,832

Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/14/2016 6:13:14 PM

John’s Top Five Concession Items
1. Buffalo bison burgers
2. Stillwater hot dogs
3. Lakeville South hot dogs
4. Bethlehem Academy hot dogs
5. Anoka hot dogs

Minnesota Coaches Hall of Fame To Induct Seven
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/14/2016 12:05:14 PM

The Minnesota State High School Coaches Association will hold its annual Hall of Fame and Awards Banquet on Saturday, Oct. 8. The event will be held at the Sheraton Minneapolis West with a social hour at 5:30 p.m. and banquet at 6:30 p.m.

Hall of Fame Inductees
Ron Stolski, Brainerd football
Ruth Hayden, Ada-Borup volleyball
Roy Nystrom, Albert Lea hockey
Mike Mahlen, Verndale football
Lorne Grosso, Rochester Mayo hockey
John "Jack" Peterson, Cambridge-Isanti basketball
George Smith, Mahtomedi football (deceased)

Former players, coaches and friends are invited to attend. Tickets may be purchased from Jim Baker, South St. Paul High School. Email is jbad154@q.com or by phone (651) 306-0328

An Official Is Gone, The Crew’s Work Continues
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/13/2016 9:26:16 AM

ST. CLOUD -- High school officials, referees, umpires and judges are a close-knit lot. A key word in many sports is “crew” … as in a group of people who work together week after week, game after game, year after year. Oftentimes they become as close as family members.

The crew that officiated a football game Friday night at St. Cloud State’s Husky Stadium is working with heavy hearts this fall. High school football officials are five-person crews, and when one of those five is gone it’s tough on everybody.

Travis Kiel was 35 years old when he was killed in a traffic accident on July 31. He graduated from Milaca High School and lived in Foley. A football and basketball official, Travis was well-liked by his fellow officials.

“He was very studious of the game,” said Tom Bolduc, the referee (white cap) on the football crew that Travis was part of. “Nobody ever said a bad thing about him.”

When Bolduc’s crew worked a Week 1 game at Zimmerman, a moment of silence was observed before kickoff in honor of Travis.

“They were very good about that,” Bolduc said. “They didn’t have to do that. We told them how much we appreciated it.”

Travis’ death was doubly tough on Bolduc’s crew because back judge Paul Seaton’s daughter Erin was married to Travis for 10 years before he died. They have two children, seven-year-old Whitney and four-year-old Wyatt.

“He loved the Friday nights,” Seaton said. “He played at Milaca High School, and when the opportunity came to be an official he had that gleam in his eye. Friday nights were special for him. Right from the get-go he was a quality official.”

The other members of the crew are umpire Jason Kelly (who took over for Travis this season), head linesman Brad Wright and line judge John Gloege.

The crew received MSHSL approval to wear patches with Travis’ initials on their hats; they also wear silicon wristbands that say “Timeout For Travis.” They miss their friend.

“He was our young guy,” Seaton said. “A lot of us are long in the tooth but he enjoyed being part of the group, he enjoyed the social part, too. He liked to listen to our stories.

“He was a great dad and a great husband to our daughter. He really enjoyed life.”

Travis’ obituary included this passage: “Everyone who met Travis left with a smile on their face. Travis also officiated varsity football and basketball for the Saint Cloud Officials Association since 2011. Travis' hobbies included golfing, hunting, and fishing. He enjoyed making memories with his wife and children including trips to Duluth to ride the trains with Wyatt and trips to Disney World with Whitney to see all of the princesses. These are memories that will last a lifetime.”

Travis first joined Bolduc’s crew as a fill-in official for a game in 2010. He became a regular member in 2011.

“The first time I met him, somebody was sick or injured,” Bolduc said. “All I knew was that he was Paul’s son-in-law. I kind of thought maybe he was riding Paul’s coattails, I was kind of skeptical. But from day one he stepped in and never missed a beat.

“He never missed a game. The best thing was his great attitude. He was very polite with coaches. Coaches never questioned his calls. He did his job and he had fun doing it.”

The football season is now in week three and will go on through an eight-game regular season, the postseason and Prep Bowl championship games on Thanksgiving weekend.

“On Friday nights you’re with the same five guys every week,” Bolduc said. “That first night, I really can’t describe it. I felt for Paul, who was so close to Travis, and I thought about his wife and kids.

“Once the first game started we did our jobs. We talked about it afterwards. Paul put it best when he said ‘We played this one for Travis.’ He was a great kid.”

--A GoFundMe page has been set up for the Kiel family: www.gofundme.com/traviskiel

*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 32
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 1,598

Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/12/2016 5:45:14 PM

John’s Top Five Concession Items
1. Buffalo bison burgers
2. Stillwater hot dogs
3. Lakeville South hot dogs
4. Bethlehem Academy hot dogs
5. Anoka hot dogs

Thinking Back To Fifteen Years Ago This Week
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/10/2016 12:33:28 PM

I’ll always remember where I was on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. I had an appointment to speak to a class at Bloomington Jefferson High School, and I turned on the radio at home as I was getting dressed for the day.

There was talk of something bad happening in New York City. I turned on the TV in the kitchen and saw a big black smoldering hole in the side of one of the twin towers of the World Trade Center. A plane had apparently struck the building, but nobody knew anything more than that. Before long another aircraft blasted into the other twin tower.

I drove to Bloomington Jefferson, arriving a few minutes early. I listened to the radio in the car for as long as I could and then walked into the school and was escorted to the room where the Sports Literature class was meeting. There were televisions in the classrooms, but because of construction work in the school none of the TVs were working. I told the class everything I had learned from listening to the radio, and then we were all in blackout mode.

After the class period ended, I drove to the Star Tribune building in downtown Minneapolis. Like everyone else in the newsroom, I watched the scenes on television. The Pentagon was on fire … a plane had apparently gone down in Pennsylvania.

Fast-forward a few years and I was back at Jefferson, writing about a memorial stone that had been installed at the school in honor of former Jaguars quarterback Tom Burnett, who died when Flight 93 crashed in Pennsylvania. I also wrote about former Blake linebacker Gordy Aamoth, who died in one of the twin towers on Sept. 11. The stadium at Blake now bears his name and a twisted beam from the World Trade Center is on display at the stadium.

In the Sept. 14, 2001, edition of the Star Tribune, I wrote a column under the headline “High school sports can help the healing.” I had spoken with people at Colorado’s Columbine High School as well as Osceolo High School in Wisconsin, where a traffic accident had claimed twin brothers a few weeks before Sept. 11. That column seemed to resonate with readers at the time, and to this day people occasionally will mention it to me. I have heard from a few people who say they saved that column, and they read it every day as Sept. 11 comes around. That is equally touching and humbling.

Here is that column as it appeared in the Minneapolis Star Tribune on Sept. 14, 2001…

High School Sports Can Help The Healing

In the horrible wake of terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, all after-school activities were canceled Tuesday in the Jefferson County (Colo.) School District. This didn't surprise Ed Woytek, the athletic director at Columbine High School.

The day's events hit Columbine hard, especially the senior class. They were freshmen on April 20, 1999, when two students shot and killed 12 students and a teacher before taking their own lives.

"Our coaches and all of us are on kind of a fine line, especially with what happened here previously," Woytek said.

Columbine still is recovering from that day. Recovery also is an ongoing process in Osceola, Wis., where twin brothers Eric and Aaron Kipp, 18, died in a car accident on the way to football practice 30 days ago.

With thousands of innocent people presumed to have perished this week, what do you say? How do you heal? Maybe it's best to listen to the kids. That's among the lessons learned at Columbine and Osceola.

"Pretty much all of them are saying to us, 'We need to be a family,'" Woytek said. "Because that's what happened a few years ago; they got with family. And that's where we need to be, that's where our American people need to be, is with family."

After the Kipp brothers died, football practices were stopped for a short period. But soon, everyone wanted to return -- or try to return -- to some sense of normalcy.

"Very soon, the kids were ready to go back," said Osceola coach/principal Mike McMartin. "They said, 'Coach, I need to keep busy.' And they were right. When we jumped back into it, although they weren't the best practices in the world, there was almost a big sigh of relief that they could start moving forward and take with us all the good things that the boys had shared with us for so many years, instead of thinking about the bad."

Activities went on as scheduled Tuesday in Osceola, the day of the attacks.

"We just really felt during that time it was massively important that we show to the kids, 'Hey, we're going on. We're not going to let these people defeat us or take us off our feet here. We're going to move forward and be proud,'" McMartin said.

At Columbine and Osceola, tragedy struck a specific community of people. This week, tragedy struck us all.

The Columbine Rebels take a 1-1 record into tonight's game at Dakota Ridge. Osceola is 3-0 and the homecoming opponent for rival St. Croix Falls. The games go on, as do our lives.

"Everybody keeps saying we'll never get back to normal, just like our nation will never get back to normal," Woytek said. "But hopefully we're going to get as close to normal as we can."

So if sporting events are part of your normal routine, stick with it. If you haven't been to a high school game in years, tonight would be a wonderful time to go. Get away from the television, escape the headlines. Find a seat in the bleachers and take a break, however temporary, from all that's gone so wretchedly wrong in this world.

Watch the team captains shake hands before the coin flip. Hold your hand over your heart during the national anthem as the flag flutters at half-staff. Bow your head during the moment of silence to honor this week's victims. Get on your feet for the opening kickoff. Watch our young people -- players, cheerleaders, fans -- as they smile, holler and laugh together during this evening that is tradition both athletic and social. Buy popcorn, listen to the band, cheer first downs, simply celebrate.

Maybe administrators at every school can find a recording of God Bless America, and across our states -- Minnesota, Wisconsin, Colorado and beyond -- we'll sing together when the game ends. Just like a family.

Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/8/2016 10:17:42 PM

John’s Top Five Concession Items
1. Buffalo bison burgers
2. Stillwater hot dogs
3. Lakeville South hot dogs
4. Bethlehem Academy hot dogs
5. Anoka hot dogs

Anoka Tornadoes, Blaine Bengals: The Rivalry Continues
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/8/2016 10:11:18 PM

Anoka High School and Blaine High School have a lot in common. They are among five high schools in the sprawling Anoka-Hennepin school district and they are only seven and half miles apart in the north metro. Anoka has an enrollment of 2,043 and Blaine has 2,555 students.

Historically the Anoka Tornadoes are truly old school, with a tradition that dates to 1880. The Blaine Bengals’ history goes back to 1972 … which to current students probably seems like the dark ages.

Needless to say, teams from these two institutions are great rivals and athletes from one school know athletes from the other. Often they were teammates in youth sports.

That was the set-up Thursday evening for a Northwest Suburban Conference boys soccer game at Anoka’s Goodrich Field. The stadium, built in the 1930s as a Works Progress Administration project, oozes history from its lush natural grass playing surface to stone walls on the perimeter and off into the old neighborhood outside the fences.

In 2014, Anoka graduate Garrison Keillor wrote a letter to the editor of the Anoka County Union, describing a football game at Goodrich. He wrote: “Last Friday, I drove up to Anoka for the Anoka-Coon Rapids football game and sat in the bleachers about 10 feet below the pressbox where, as a 14-year-old kid, I sat and wrote up the games for the Anoka Herald.

“Goodrich Field looks so much the same as it did back then and off to my right was a student cheering section, about 300 strong, distinguished by wearing odds and ends of white, white shirts, headbands, caps, one boy in a white off-the-shoulder toga, tossing white streamers, setting off white smoke bombs – a solid block of high spirited goofiness and tumult and swaying and dancing in the stands – in their whiteness, the opposite of goth, more like moths fluttering at a porch light, and so utterly different from the self-conscious solemnity of the Fifties teenager.”

There was no large student section on hand for Thursday’s 5 p.m. boys soccer game. The spirit displayed on the field, however, was clear. These teams gave each other everything they had. Which was no surprise; Anoka is the two-time state champion of Class 2A boys soccer, and Blaine has been one of the teams standing in the Tornadoes’ way en route to the state tournament. A year ago, Anoka edged the Bengals 3-2 in section play.

“It’s always a personal game, playing Anoka,” said Blaine junior goalkeeper Jonathan Coello. “Our team’s always fired up playing these guys.”

The score Thursday matched the 2015 section game, but with the roles reversed. A goal by Giovanni Podesta with a little more than six minutes to play was the decider as the Bengals won 3-2. Anoka’s goals were scored by Blake Perry and Thomas Ryan; Brett Huver and Brandon Olson got the first two for Blaine.

Ryan gave the Tornadoes a 2-1 lead early in the second half. A penalty-kick goal by Olson made it 2-2 with 16:05 to play, followed by Podesta’s heroics. The Bengals celebrated at the final horn, and rightfully so.

“These are the games you get against them,” said Anoka coach Pete Hayes. “Two rivals that are very physical. They came out on the winning end today.”

Anoka’s record is 3-2; the Tornadoes lost to Minneapolis Washburn 4-0 in their season opener. That game was a rematch of last year’s state semifinals, which Anoka won 2-1. Blaine is 5-1, losing to Andover 3-1.

“These are two evenly matched teams but I’ll tell you, they have some weapons,” Blaine coach Berry Arrowsmith said. “They’re a good team.”

After Podesta’s go-ahead goal, the weight of the world fell on Coello to keep Anoka out of the net.

“Honestly, I’ve just got to trust my defense,” he said after making 10 saves. “They did great tonight. They cleared the ball well. I trust them. And everything that comes near me, I try to own the six-yard box and keep it out of there.

“It’s always personal (playing Anoka), especially when they kicked us out last year,” he said. “We know guys on this team; it’s always fun to play them but it’s always physical, too.”

If there is a rematch in 2016, it will come in the Section 7 playoffs. And this much we know: Both teams will be ready.

“It’s early,” Hayes said. “Like I told Berry, ‘You can have this one. We want the next one.’ That’s the one that counts.”

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

*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 30
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 1,418

Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/6/2016 10:21:12 PM

John’s Top Five Concession Items
1. Buffalo bison burgers
2. Stillwater hot dogs
3. Lakeville South hot dogs
4. Bethlehem Academy hot dogs
5. Babbitt ice-cold Diet Coke

NFL Quarterbacks To MSHSL Coaches: Bollinger and Bouman
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/4/2016 4:11:00 PM

Brooks Bollinger and Todd Bouman have much in common, even if they have met only briefly. Both are former NFL quarterbacks and both spent time with the Vikings. And both are Minnesota high school football coaches.

Bollinger, 36, is in his first year as the head coach at Cretin-Derham Hall in St. Paul. He was the head coach at Hill-Murray in Maplewood in 2011, leading the Pioneers to the state semifinals before joining the University of Pittsburgh as an assistant coach. He came to Cretin-Derham Hall as the quarterbacks coach last year and was named head coach when Mike Scanlan stepped down this winter.

Bouman, 44, is in his third year as the head coach at Buffalo High School. He was an assistant with the Bison for part of the 2007 season, leaving in October when he signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The two coaches made plenty of stops during their NFL careers. Bollinger played with the New York Jets, Vikings, Dallas and Detroit between 2003 and 2009, and Bowman was with the Vikings, New Orleans, Green Bay, Jacksonville, St. Louis and Baltimore between 1997 and 2010.

Bollinger, who told me “I maybe met Todd once,” had a memorable debut with the Raiders on Thursday night at Lakeville South. Cretin-Derham Hall trailed 14-0 in the third quarter before rallying for a 19-14 victory. The final two touchdowns came on desperation passes of 43 and 48 yards, the second in the final minute.

Bouman’s team also won its season opener, beating Willmar 47-20 on Friday night in the first game played at Buffalo’s spectacular new stadium. Among the stars for the Bison was Bouman’s son Aidan, a lefthanded-throwing freshman quarterback who completed 13 of 27 passes for 209 yards and five touchdowns.

Both coaches saw their share of high points as players. Bollinger, a North Dakota prep star at Grand Forks Central, was a four-year college starter at Wisconsin and was part of the Badgers’ 2000 Rose Bowl victory over Stanford. Bouman was an all-state athlete in football and basketball and went to state in track at Russell-Tyler-Ruthton in southwest Minnesota. In three years as the starting quarterback at St. Cloud State he passed for 4,354 yards and 30 touchdowns.

Players sometimes ask the coaches about their time in the NFL, and the two don’t mind telling an occasional story.

“It’s harder to impress kids anymore,” Bollinger said. “They care for about 10 minutes and then they just want to know if you’re a good coach. They’ll get a story here and there: ‘What about this guy? What about that guy?’ But most of the time they’re looking at you like, ‘Oh, stop with these stories.’ ”

Rather than talk about the old days, the coaches love working with their players and teaching lessons about football as well as life off the field.

“I enjoy watching kids, from the time they’re freshmen until they’re seniors and they graduate,” Bouman said. “I always say I was lucky enough to do what I did for many years, but I had absolutely wonderful, great high school coaches and it was just a dream of mine to give back to high school kids what I got.”

Family ties also are important to Bollinger and Bouman. One of Bollinger’s assistant coaches is his father, Rob, a former assistant coach at the University of North Dakota. For Bouman, coaching his son is just the latest chapter in a family tradition.

Prior to becoming head coach of the Bison, he spent four years as an assistant coach to his brother Troy at Pipestone High School. Troy’s son Boyer was the Arrows’ starting quarterback for three of those seasons, “so I got to be around that situation and experience that, which was a lot of fun,” Todd Bouman said.

The 2016 season will continue this week with Buffalo playing at Monticello and Cretin-Derham Hall meeting Woodbury at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul. The coaches will continue working with their players, knowing what’s important.

“I’m a high school coach because I was fortunate to have an unbelievable high school coach who made a huge impact on my life,” Bollinger said. “I obviously have a passion for this game, but more importantly a passion for passing that on and trying to use this game to impact kids in a positive way and help them become better men. That’s what we’re focused on.”

*Schools/teams John has seen/visited: 26
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry in 2016-17: 1,253

Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/2/2016 6:29:01 PM

John’s Top Five Concession Items
1. Buffalo bison burgers
2. Stillwater hot dogs
3. Lakeville South hot dogs
4. Babbitt ice-cold Diet Coke
5. Prior Lake popcorn

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