Casey Schilling and his mother both smiled when I asked them if Ellsworth – on the heels of Edgerton/Ellsworth winning the Nine-Man football state championship Friday – was now a football town.
They affirmed that Ellsworth remains a basketball town, and who can argue? The Ellsworth boys basketball team is nearly a fixture at the state tournament. But Friday’s 36-28 victory over Wheaton/Herman-Norcross at the Metrodome put a new twist on the cooperative agreement that pairs Ellsworth and Edgerton in football.
“Ellsworth will always be a basketball town and Edgerton will always be a football town. That’s just how it goes,” said Casey, a 6-foot-6 senior who does nothing on the football field other than play wide receiver (seven catches for 82 yards and a touchdown Friday), defensive end, punter and kickoff kicker.
His mom, Carla, concurred. “This is unreal,” she said. “He’s had the best of both worlds; Edgerton’s a big football town so Ellsworth is fortunate to go there and play football.”
The Schillings, just like everybody in Ellsworth, know all about state tournament success in basketball. The Panthers have played in five Class 1A championship games since 2003, winning titles in 2007 and 2008. Clayton and Carla Schilling’s three sons – Curt, Cody and Casey – have played important roles on those teams; Cody, in fact, broke the state’s all-time scoring record before graduating in 2008.
Curt also played football through high school, while Cody concentrated on basketball after his freshman year.
Edgerton had previously played in the state football tournament in 2004, 2005 and 2006, and the combined Edgerton/Ellsworth team did the same last year. But all those teams lost in the state quarterfinals.
“Curt had some great teams but he never made it here, so I’ve got a little bit of bragging rights,” Casey said Friday.
Curt is now the athletic director and boys basketball coach at George-Little Rock High School, a short drive from Ellsworth across the Iowa border; George is Carla’s hometown. Cody is a senior at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D., where Casey also will play basketball.
All the Schillings were at the Metrodome for Friday’s game, and a Twitter message from Cody summed everything up. He wrote: “E/E State Champs.. #proudbrother”
QUOTE OF THE DAY
After Eden Prairie defeated Wayzata 13-3 in the Class 5A championship game, Trojans coach Brad Anderson was the picture of sportsmanship and class, as is always the case.
He smiled broadly as he congratulated the Eden Prairie coaches, and the smile stayed on his face as he spoke to his players, who were tearfully gathered around him on one knee.
"It hurts because it means something to you," he told the Trojans. "And I'm proud of every one of you."
IT’S A FAMILY AFFAIR
(This item was written by Windom High School senior Thomas Elness, a member of the MSHSL Student Sports Information Directors program.)
It’s not unusual to see a group of people wearing identical t-shirts at a state tournament, but it is rare to see shirts with the names of two players from two different teams. That was the case Friday.
Aaron Vipond, a senior player for Mahnomen, and Tanner Kirkeide, a senior player for Wheaton/Herman-Norcross, both competed for state titles. The two are cousins and they had a cheering section of their own at the Metrodome. The group of around 50 family members all ordered matching shirts bearing the names and numbers of Aaron and Tanner.
“It took 10 hotel rooms, and the whole family wasn’t even here yet,” Uncle Joe Vipond said while cheering for Wheaton/Herman-Norcross. Football runs in the family, as does agriculture. “When the farming gets done, we go to all of the games,” he said.
Grandma Mary Ann made the trek to the Dome and noted, “It’s very, very exciting. I’m very proud.” With 10 children of her own, 26 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren (including one in her arms during the interview), it doesn’t look like football is going to be ending any time soon for the Viponds and Kirkeides.
Before the Caledonia Warriors defeated Moose Lake/Willow River 27-0 to win their second consecutive Class 2A state championship, they heard a special pregame speech. The message came from Farmington football coach Mark Froehling, a former coach in Caledonia who continues to have strong ties there.
Froehling is well-known for reading a different book to his team during the course of each season. This fall he read “Remember Why You Play,” which follows the football team at Faith Christian School in Grapevine, Texas, for a season.
“One of the mottos of that team was ‘focus and finish,’ ” Froehling told me before the game.
The Warriors have heard pregame talks by Froehling before, including last year’s Prep Bowl victory over Triton.
Edgerton/Ellsworth quarterback Isaac Heard completed 23 of 31 passes for 368 yards and five touchdowns with one interception. His favorite receiver was Devin Hulstein, who had seven catches for 198 yards and two scores. Two of those numbers were Prep Bowl records: Heard’s 368 passing yards and Hulstein’s 198 receiving yards.
In Dawson-Boyd's 35-20 victory over Mahnomen in the Class 1A title game, Dawson-Boyd's Evan Robertson tied a Prep Bowl record with three interceptions. Five previous players had picked off three passes in a Prep Bowl game.
BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 151
*Miles John has driven: 5,008
*Diet Coke Count: 6 for the day, 55 for the fall tournaments
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