John's Journal
Celebrating the Old Dutch Team and Athlete of the Week11/27/2013
This week's awards center on girls swimming and diving, with Team of the Week honors going to Wayzata High School and Athlete of the Week honors going to Mankato West's Danielle Nack. Read more by clicking here.
Prep Bowl XXXII: Farewell To The Metrodome11/27/2013
Friday and Saturday will be historic as the Prep Bowl closes the books on the MSHSL fall sports season. Prep Bowl XXXII will be the official farewell to the Metrodome as the home of state championships in high school soccer and football. The Metrodome will be demolished at the conclusion of the Vikings' season, to be replaced by a new stadium on the same site that is scheduled to open in 2016.

For the 2014 and 2015 football seasons, the Prep Bowl will be held outdoors at TCF Bank Stadium on the University of Minnesota campus. State semifinals in those two years will be played at various sites, similar to the current state quarterfinals. State soccer semifinals and championship games will be played at St. Cloud State's Husky Stadium in 2014 and 2015, with football and soccer returning to the great indoors when the new stadium opens in 2016.

This week's Prep Bowl action will begin at 10 a.m. both days, with four state championship games played Friday and three Saturday. All games will be televised live by KSTC Channel 45, and all games will be webcast by prep45.com; the cost is $4.97 each day to view the webcasts.

PREP BOWL MATCHUPS

Friday
10 a.m.: Nine-man/ Underwood (10-3) vs. Grand Meadow (12-1)
1 p.m: Class 2A/ Minneota (13-0) vs. Chatfield (12-1)
4 p.m.: Class 4A/ Hutchinson (12-0) vs. Holy Angels (7-5)
7 p.m.: Class 6A/ Eden Prairie (11-0) vs. Rosemount (11-1)

Saturday
10 a.m.: Class 1A/ Dawson-Boyd (12-1) vs. Mahnomen (13-0)
1 p.m.: Class 3A/ St. Croix Lutheran (10-2) vs. New London-Spicer (10-2)
4 p.m.: Class 5A/ Brainerd (12-0) vs. Owatonna (12-0)
The Coach Is The Story In Chisholm, But Don't Forget The Players11/25/2013
CHISHOLM -- Amid all the hoopla of Bob McDonald's 59th and final season as a boys basketball coach, as well as his nearness to 1,000 career victories, something important can easily be forgotten. His players.

Is there a team in the state that feels more pressure than the Chisholm Bluestreaks? The team needs to win six games in order for McDonald to reach 1,000 wins. He took 994 victories into Friday's season opener against visiting North Woods, and his career victory total remains at 994 going into Tuesday's home game against Virginia.

North Woods beat the Bluestreaks 67-56 in Roels Gymnasium, the bandbox that has been the scene of countless historic moments. The Grizzlies used three-point shooting, quickness and hustle to beat the taller, more experienced Bluestreaks. Darnell Goggleye hit three three-point shots and had 21 points for North Woods, while Aaron Musburger led Chisholm with 27 points and Mitch Rusten had 13.

After the game, I talked with Musburger and Rusten about being seniors on McDonald's last team.

"There's a lot more pressure, I guess, to win," Musburger said. "We definitely don't want to underachieve."

Goal No. 1 for the players is to get their coach to 1,000 victories, said Rusten.

"We want to get it out of the way as early as possible and not have to worry about it any more."

As one of the locals told me before the game, this season could be called The End of The World Tour, "because the world must be ending if Bob isn't going to be coaching anymore."

McDonald remains one of the best-dressed coaches in the game, wearing a suit and tie ... just as his players do on game days. Before Friday's game he chatted with fans and shook hands, wearing a smile. He may pose for more photos than anyone in Minnesota this winter, because everywhere he goes people want to snap a picture. At different times Friday he was asked to stand with young Chisholm students as their parents took photos that will be treasured for a generation or more.

Bob's wife Carol and sister Darlene sat two rows behind the Chisholm bench Friday -- they sit there for every game -- and their third-row seats were at the top of the bleachers on the court level. There are no seats on one end and one side of Roels Gymnasium, with a balcony wrapping around the opposite end and side.

Behind the scorer's table is a small room that is equal parts equipment room, trainers room, snack room and inspiration room. The doors and walls are adorned with handmade signs, courtesy of the coach. One sign is headlined "Some Pertinent Sayings" and includes these words: "Depend on the rabbits foot if you will, but remember, it didn't work for the rabbit."

Other signs are specific to team goals, training rules and even what to wear on your head: "Baseball caps do not constitute cold weather headgear. Show some class and be a good example."

The Bluestreaks' mood was downcast after the loss to North Woods. McDonald spent a long time in the locker room with his team afterwards.

Rusten said, "We've got to do a better job of protecting against transition and guarding the perimeter. We gave up too many wide open shots and they knocked them down. Credit to them."

McDonald did not do much smiling during the game. After the final horn, he said, "This reminds me of a movie: Nightmare on Elm Street" He was, however, smiling as he spoke.

He smiled and shook hands with all the players and coaches from North Woods, complementing them on their victory. After McDonald emerged from the locker room, I asked him about the pressure his players face this season. He has never mentioned 1,000 wins to his team, but he knows they feel pressure and he wishes they didn't.

"I've been around a long time and they don't have to placate me in any way," McDonald said. "I know what they're capable of. I mean, with this outfit, six games to me is zilch. Why put all the eggs in one basket and six games, when you're playing 26? They don't realize that and they're in a hurry. It affects them.

"I'm thankful I have kids like that. But they don't owe me anything. I think it's grand that they're playing for me. They don't have to bow to me and think they have to placate every little whim."

The players know their coach is a legend, they know how long he's been coaching and they know how rare 1,000 career victories is; according to the National Federation of State High School Associations record book, only 12 boys basketball coaches in the nation have reached 1,000.

"Obviously he's been doing the same things for 59 years and they've been producing results," Rusten said. "We've got to do what he says and listen to him and not try and question him. Because he's obviously forgotten a lot more about basketball than we will ever know.

"It's an honor to be on his last team."

--To see a photo gallery from Friday's game in Chisholm (including the back-room signs), go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

BY THE NUMBERS

*Schools/teams John has visited: 219
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 5,732
(*During the 2013-14 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn
Who Will Be Next Old Dutch Athlete of the Week? And Team Of The Week?11/24/2013
Nominations are open for the Old Dutch Athlete of the Week award, as well as the Old Dutch Team of the Week award. Read all the details by clicking here.
Congrats To The Old Dutch Athlete And Team Of The Week11/23/2013
Jeremy Jost, a junior at Robbinsdale Armstrong who plays on the Robbinsdale/Hopkins/Mound Westonka Robins adapted soccer team, is the Old Dutch High School Athlete of the Week.
Jeremy was one of the unsung for the Robins, who won their sixth consecutive state championship in the physically impaired division of the adapted soccer state tournament.

He played a vital role in limiting scoring chances by the Robins' opponents all weekend long, especially in the state championship game. Jeremy plays a defensive position in the back half of the court to assist the goalkeeper, and is not typically a high-scoring player. But he had a great weekend offensively, scoring seven goals and three assists for the tournament, including the vital game-tying goal with 2:47 left in the championship game.

In addition, Jeremy specifically requested to defer a spot on the all-tournament team, if nominated, as he felt he had teammates more deserving of the recognition than himself... a very selfless act!

Congratulations to Jeremy Jost for being this week's Old Dutch High School Athlete of the Week!

The Old Dutch High School Team of the Week is the Chatfield Gophers football team. The Gophers extended their season record to 12-1 with a 41-21 victory over Hawley in the Class 2A semifinals at the Metrodome. They will meet Minneota for the state title on Friday, marking the first time Chatfield has been in the Prep Bowl since a championship threepeat from 1994 through 1996.

The Gophers made it to the state tournament with a Section 1 championship game victory over Caledonia, which had won five of the last six 2A state titles.

Congratulations to the Chatfield High School Football Team for being this week's Old Dutch High School Team of the Week!