John's Journal
Four Named To Basketball Coaches Hall Of Fame9/10/2012
The Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association has named four 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 achievements and service.

The 2012 inductees are:
· Franz Boelter – Bethlehem Academy
· Ron Causton – St. Paul Highland Park
· Don Roberts – Simley
· Bruce Young – Long Prairie-Grey Eagle

The induction ceremonies will be held at the MBCA Hall of Fame Luncheon on Sunday, October 28th, 12:00 p.m., at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Minneapolis.

Franz Boelter became the head boys basketball coach at Bethlehem Academy in 1984 and will begin his 29th season this November at the helm of the Cardinals program. Franz's high school coaching career began as a head basketball coach and assistant volleyball coach at Medford High School in 1978. During his 28-year tenure at Bethlehem Academy, his teams have won 14 Gopher Conference titles and Section Championships in 1993, 1994, 2002, and 2009. His 1993 Cardinals finished as Class A State Runner-Up, and a return trip to the State Tournament the following year netted them a third place finish. Franz is a member of the 500 wins club with an overall record of 580-265. Coach Boelter has multiple Section Coach of the Year awards and was honored as State Class A Coach of the Year in 1993. He also served on the MBCA Executive Board as a Section Representative for over 20 years and is a past MBCA President. In addition to his success on the basketball court, Coach Boelter has also experienced great success on the volleyball court, establishing Bethlehem Academy as one of Minnesota's elite volleyball programs. He has led the Cardinals to five State Championships and four State Runner-Up finishes in the past ten years, as well as being named to the Minnesota Volleyball Coaches Hall of Fame in 2008.

Ron Causton spent the first ten years of his coaching career, 1962-72, at Murray H.S. in St. Paul. In an unusual transition in 1966, Causton gave up his head wrestling coach duties and became the head basketball coach at Murray. He led his Murray teams to three conference titles and a 1972 Region Championship and State Tournament appearance. At the conclusion of the 1971-72 school year, he moved to St. Paul Highland Park and promptly guided the Scots to the 1973 St. Paul City title. During his 16 seasons at Highland Park, his squads won four conference titles and earned Region championships resulting in State Tournament appearances in 1975 and 1977. Ron was an active member in the early years of the MBCA and aided in creating the “Hoop Scoop” communication for member coaches. He also served as a member of the Region 4 committee and is a member of the Highland Park and Mancinis’ Halls of Fame. In addition to coaching boys basketball he also coached wrestling, baseball, football, and girls basketball (2 years at Johnson H.S.). Coach Causton retired from coaching with an overall record of 311-172 as a varsity boys basketball coach.

Don Roberts’ coaching career began in 1954 in Lake Crystal, MN. He spent five years coaching in Lake Crystal before he moved to Inver Grove Heights as a math teacher, assistant basketball coach, and defensive coordinator for the football team (a position he held until his retirement). He became the head hoops coach in 1964 and led the Simley program until his retirement in 1987. His 1974 Spartans team won the Region 1 Tournament and finished as consolation champions in that year’s State Tournament. His 1985 squad finished as Section 1 runners-up. Don was also one of the early leaders of the MBCA and like fellow inductee, Coach Causton, was a driving force in the creation and distribution of the Hoop Scoop communication for member coaches. He was also actively involved at the regional and state levels with initiatives promoting and improving basketball. After retirement from Simley, he continued his involvement in sports by serving as an assistant basketball coach and assistant football coach at Bethel College from 1987-1999. Coach Roberts is a member of the Simley High School Athletic Hall of Fame and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Hall of Fame.

Bruce Young has coached boys basketball at Long Prairie/Long Prairie-Grey Eagle H.S. for 20 years and just completed the 33rd season of a coaching career that began at Bellingham H.S. in 1972. He guided teams to seven conference titles and led Long Prairie/LP-GE teams to Section titles and State Tournament appearances in 1991, 1998, 1999, 2001, and 2002. The 1991 Long Prairie State entrants won the consolation championship and the 1998 LP-GE squad battled their way to a State Tournament second place finish. Bruce’s coaching achievements earned him recognition from his peers as the recipient of three Section Coach of the Year awards and honors as the State Class AA Coach of the Year. During his career he has also served as a coach at Round Lake, Baldwin, WI, New Richland, and Braham. After a seven year hiatus from boys basketball, including one year as girls coach, he returned to lead the Thunder program in 2009 and continues in that position today. In addition to coaching basketball, Bruce has coached football and served in the role of Athletic Director. Coach Young is a member of the 500 win club and has compiled an overall record of 506-282.
Big Plays, Big Turnovers And A Great Night For Football9/8/2012
While the football teams from Edina and Totino-Grace were warming up Friday night at Totino-Grace in Fridley, T-G coach Jeff Ferguson walked up to me on the sideline, nodded toward the Edina Hornets and said, “Do you notice any tendencies, John?”

This was clearly my chance. After decades of writing about high school football, here was a coach – one who has won multiple state championships and produces top-notch teams year after year – asking me … no, begging me … for advice.

“Oh yes, I definitely see a tendency,” I replied with confidence. “Look at their socks. They don’t match.” The Hornets wore white socks and black socks, high socks and low socks. I discovered this fact by using my highly trained football eye. Glad to help, coach.

Enough joking around. This was an intriguing matchup and the first time Edina and Totino-Grace had met on the football field. The Eagles, ranked No. 1 in Class 5A, defeated 6A Edina 15-12 in a game that started out in a slow burn and finished on a high wire. “It was kind of two immovable objects there for a while,” Ferguson said afterwards.

Turnovers made the difference, as is often the case. Midway through the first quarter Edina lost a fumble, and on the next play Totino-Grace quarterback A.J. LaPanta threw 38 yards to Charlie Miller for a touchdown. As the immovable objects went back and forth, Edina’s Patrick Le Corre kicked two 30-yard field goals, making it T-G 7, Edina 6 in the third quarter.

Edina missed another scoring chance late in the third when a long pass on fourth-and-short flicked off the fingers of a receiver. Hornets coach Reed Boltmann rightfully pointed something out to his receiver: “God gave you two hands! Use ‘em!” To which the young man who had not caught the football yelled back as he stretched one hand outward, “It was way the (expletive) out here!”

Edina kept pounding the rock and finally took the lead with 7:29 left in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Mark Handberg, who was chased by the Totino-Grace defense all evening, broke free from a tackle and threw 19 yards to the end zone, where Marly Allison made a nice catch and got his feet in before falling out. It was Edina 12, Totino-Grace 7.

After Totino-Grace lost a fumble, Edina returned the turnover favor when the Eagles’ Michael Waters intercepted a Handberg pass at the Edina 33. A few plays later, Kai Barber rushed up the middle for a 1-yard touchdown, LaPanta threw to Mason Kaliszewski for the two-point conversion and Totino-Grace was back on top, 15-12, with 3:44 to go.

The sealant was applied was with 67 seconds remaining when Eagles sophomore Ben Mezzenga picked off a Handberg pass. Game, set, match.

Boltmann told his players that they had let the Eagles off the hook.

“I thought we did,” he said. “I thought we had the second half in hand there after we pick up the fumble. But we don’t get a play in in time and then we fumbled the ball, an interception and it kind of took the wind out of our sails.

“I thought we did enough to give ourselves a chance. There were some woulda, coulda, shouldas in that game. But they made the plays when they needed to and we didn’t. We’ve got to find a way to finish and that’s why we practice every day.”

The interceptions by Waters and Mezzenga seemed a little unlikely before the game began. Waters is a backup who was filling in for a missing teammate and Mezzenga had been sick all week with a virus and muscle aches.

“I’m really proud of our kids,” Ferguson said. “We had some guys that were out and not playing and some guys that stepped up big. Michael Waters made a big interception and Ben Mezzenga didn’t practice this week. He comes back today and got a big interception. It was a total team effort.”

Totino-Grace improved to 2-0 after beating Coon Rapids 48-6 last week. The Eagles are a new team in the Northwest Suburban Conference this season, moving from the North Suburban.

Edina, which is in the new Class 6A, is 2-1. The Hornets opened with a Zero Week contest, defeating Holy Angels 28-14 and a week ago the Hornets beat Andover 24-23 after trailing 14-0 in the first quarter. Edina was on the cusp of the 6A top 10 this week, falling a few votes short of the No. 10 spot.

No matter the rankings or the outcome, Totino-Grace is a wonderful place to watch a football game. The facilities are great, the Eagles students are loud and proud, the home stands were filled to overflowing and hundreds of folks stood around the fence that circles the field. The weather was perfect, too.

Both teams face tough tests next week, with Totino-Grace going to Anoka (2-0) and Edina hosting Lakeville South (1-1).

If the coaches need any advice about the opponents’ socks, I’m here to help.

--Photos from the game can be seen on the MSHSL Faceboo page.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 58
*Miles John has driven: 1,307
(*During the 2012-13 school year)

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of John Millea is on Twitter @MSHSLjohn
A Special Moment As Two Teams Come Together9/7/2012
There was a very special moment Thursday after a volleyball match between Byron and Kasson-Mantorville.

On Tuesday, 17-year-old Byron senior Deianerah “Deej” J. Logan lost her life in an automobile accident. At the end of Thursday’s volleyball game, the players from Byron and Kasson-Mantorville came together and shared a moment in prayer for DeeJ and her family.

It was a very touching moment to see two big rivals come together and support each other at such a difficult time.

--This item and photo have been posted on the MSHSL Facebook page, eliciting a tremendous response. Go to MSHSL on Facebook.
Old Dutch Student-Athlete of the Week: Wayzata's Connor Olson9/5/2012
Connor Olson, a sophomore cross-country runner at Wayzata, was the individual champion at Saturday's prestigious Columbus Invitational in Marshfield, Wisconsin.

Running against top competition from Minnesota and Wisconsin, Olson's victory came by a razor-thin margin over Stillwater senior and then-top-ranked Minnesota runner Wayde Hall. Olson's time was 15 minutes, 34.9 seconds with Hall finishing in 15:35.0.

Connor paced Wayzata to the team championship, with Stillwater a close second. In this week's 2A rankings, Olson rose from No. 5 to No. 1.

As the inaugural recipient of the Old Dutch High School Student Athlete of the Week award, Olson was recognized on WCCO-AM 830 Tuesday evening during the “Sports To The Max” show with Mike Max and Wednesday morning during “The WCCO Morning News With Dave Lee.”

Nominations for the award close each Monday at noon; athletes can be nominated by sending an email to MSHSL media specialist John Millea at

Nominations should include the following … --Student’s name, school and grade. --Athletic accomplishments during the past week. Please offer detailed statistics. --Information about the student’s academics and/or community involvement. --If possible, include a phone number where the student can be reached (student’s cell phone is best) and a school photo of the student (the type of photo used in school yearbooks or graduation photos).