John's Journal
MSHSCA Hall Of Fame Class Announced9/14/2017
The Minnesota State High School Coaches Association is proud to announce its 2017 Hall of Fame inductees:

--Rick Ringeisen, Lakeville South, swimming, track and field

--Bruce Kugath, Shakopee, boys basketball

--Linda Gust, St. Louis Park, synchronized swimming

--Bud Bjornaraa, Burnsville, track and field

--Dan Schneider, Lakeville North, swimming

The Hall of Fame and Awards Banquet will be held Saturday, Oct. 14 at the Sheraton West Minneapolis. A social will began at 5 p.m. and the Banquet at 6:15 p.m. Tickets for the banquet can be purchased by contacting Jim Baker at 651-357-2937. Former athletes, assistant coaches and friends are invited to attend this celebration.
With Carter Kopet Healthy Again, Cleveland Rocks 9/13/2017
CLEVELAND – During a remarkable passing performance in Week 2 of the football season, Carter Kopet did the unimaginable. The Cleveland High School quarterback threw an interception. The planet did not shift on its axis.

“That’s not anybody’s fault but mine,” the 6-foot-2 senior said to co-head coach Erik Hermanson on the sideline. And on the Clippers’ next possession, Kopet did what Kopet does: He threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to classmate Austin Plonsky, one of seven scoring passes by Kopet in the first half. After completing 14 of 19 passes for 254 yards in those first two quarters, he did not play in the second half as the Clippers defeated Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart 63-7 in nine-man football.

Kopet might be the most dynamic high school football player in Minnesota. During his junior season he broke the state record for career touchdown passes (which is extended with each new TD toss) and he needs 215 yards to become Minnesota’s all-time leader in passing yards. Cleveland will play a home game against Madelia on Friday; Kopet will begin the game with 143 touchdown passes and 8,636 yards. Last season he threw for 54 touchdowns, one short of the single-season state record of 55.

He has been the Clippers’ starting quarterback since the first game of his ninth-grade season (as well as a starter on the basketball and baseball teams), and the football team has a record of 31-6 since then. They went 13-1 last year, losing to Grand Meadow in the Prep Bowl. Returning to U.S. Bank Stadium is the goal this season for everyone in the town of 700 northeast of Mankato.

“Our expectations are pretty much to get to the state tournament, get to that championship game and take the next step we weren’t able to take last year,” he said. “We lost some key seniors but we have some good young kids coming up. We’ve got the talent and the coaches; it’s going to be about the effort we put in and how things turn out at the end.”

The fact that Kopet is even playing football this fall is somewhat surprising. He blew out his left knee coming down from a dunk in a basketball game in mid-January, destroying the anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus. He faced surgery and rehab and doctors told him he might not return to athletics for a year. That scenario – the town’s top athlete missing his senior football season and much of his senior basketball season for a team that also carries state tournament aspirations – was a thunderbolt.

“The whole town was pretty depressed,” Hermanson said. “It was in the middle of basketball season and everyone was thinking about the state basketball tournament. But right away he was into his rehab and he set a goal; he was going to be back the first day of practice. They told him, ‘No, you’ll be back for the first game, maybe.’ ”

Rehabbing his knee was a test unlike any Kopet had faced previously. He drove to the Twin Cities twice a week to work with therapists, and spent at least three hours a day working at home.

“I got to rehab and sleep, that’s about all,” he said. “I used to think I was a super-hard worker, but when you go through something like that you find out how much harder you have to work. They told me it would be six to 12 months, and I was cleared in 5 ½ months.”

The 2017 football season began with a 52-51 overtime loss at Spring Grove. After the Lions – who rallied from a three-touchdown deficit -- scored and kicked the extra point to open overtime, Cleveland scored and went for two. Kopet scrambled and was stopped about a foot short of the goal line.

“It was kind of like, ‘Hey, we’re not invincible,’ ” Kopet said. “In all sports we’ve been pretty successful lately. When you start thinking like that it almost gets to the point of thinking you can’t lose. Hopefully we learned from it. That bus ride home, the locker room, that’s what was special about this team. They don’t like to lose, and when it does happen it’s not a very fun night.”

With shifts in section assignments this season, Cleveland moved from Section 2 to Section 1, which includes four-time defending state champion Grand Meadow and Spring Grove. Also in Section 1 is Houston, which ended Grand Meadow’s 51-game winning streak last week.

It’s unfair to put all the hopes on one player’s shoulders, of course, but Kopet has plenty of help. Plonsky caught five passes for 121 yards and three touchdowns against Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart, Cade Olson had two catches (both for touchdowns), and Danny McCabe and Bryce Novak each caught one touchdown pass from Kopet. Novak also returned an interception 40 yards for a TD.

Kopet plays defense at times, but his spot in the Clippers’ no-huddle, shotgun, quick-strike offense is his most important role.

“When he was an eighth-grader we made sure to get him in key, real-game spots, where he had to play,” Hermanson said. “We had a senior quarterback and we made sure Carter got in because we knew he was going to be great.

“Not even counting his skills, you can see how much of a leader he is, helping all the young guys all the time. Everybody looks up to him and respects him. It’s like having another coach, and someone who is humble. We’ve never seen him be cocky or arrogant. He’s the kid you dream about coaching.”

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

Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn
Class 1A Boys Cross-Country Rankings9/11/2017
From the Minnesota Cross-Country Coaches Association.

1. Perham
2. Mankato Loyola/Cleveland
3. Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop
4. Greenway/NK
5. Lac Qui Parle Valley/DB
6. Mora
7 Minnehaha Academy
8. Annandale
9. LaCrescent
11. St. James
12 Jordan

1. Declan Dahlberg Mound Park Acad.
2. Matt Steiger LaCrescent
3. Keiser Freetley Lac Qui Parle Valley
4. Geno Uhrbom Greenway/NK
5. Jake Paron North Shore
6. Owen Keiser Jordan
7 Ethan Olson Moose Lake/WR
8. Jacob Bright West Central Area
9. Lucas Pierson St. James
10. Nick Meyer Wabasha-Kellogg
11. Emmett Anderson Staples-Motley
12 Nathan Runck Mountain Lake Area
Class 1A Girls Cross-Country Rankings9/11/2017
From the Minnesota Cross-Country Coaches Association.

1. Fairmont
2. Perham
3. Annandale
4. Luverne
5. Stewartville
6. Minnehaha Academy
7. Maple Lake
8. Lac Qui Parle Valley/DB
9. Lake City
10 Belle Plaine
11. Lanesboro Filmore Central
12. Canby/Minneota

1. Grace Ping Cotter
2. Tierney Wolfgram Math&Science Acad.
3. Lauren Ping Cotter
4. Morgan Gehl Murray County Cent.
5. Kira Sweeney Staples-Motley
6. Marissa Whitehead Martin County West
7. Makenna Thurston Lake Cyrstral WM/N
8. Katherine Geist Crookston
9. Ava Hill Mesabi East
10 Kayla Christopherson Austin Pacelli
11. Grace Mallack Howard Lake/Waverly/W
12. Kristin Kalhoff Albany
Class 2A Boys Cross-Country Rankings9/11/2017
From the Minnesota Cross-Country Coaches Association.

1 Wayzata
2 Edina
3 Stillwater
4 Minnetonka
5 Minneapolis Washburn
6 Eden Prairie
7 Mounds View
8 White Bear Lake
9 Rosemount
10 Sartell
11 Chanhassen
12 Red Wing
Also receiving votes: Maple Grove

1 Grant Price, Wayzata
2 Khalid Hussein, Wayzata
3 Addison Stansbury, Stillwater
4 Max Manley, Edina
5 Acer Iverson, Roseville
6 Joseph Minor, Washburn
7 Isaac Basten, Buffalo
8 Luke Labatte, Rosemount
9 Mitchell Tollander, Wayzata
10 Owen Gage, Edina
11 Blake Buysse, Wayzata
12 Adam Wilkinson, Minnetonka
Also receiving votes: Tom Breuckman, Andover; Caleb Haugland, Washburn