John's Journal
Pregame Omens, Talented Cheerleaders And How Quick Beat Big10/20/2011
If you believe in omens – and maybe the overconfidence of talented and hardworking cheerleaders – the tipping point in Wayzata’s 9-0 football victory over Eden Prairie on Wednesday night might have come a few minutes before kickoff between the top-ranked teams in Class 5A.

The Eden Prairie cheer squad had made a wonderfully creative giant paper banner for the Eagles to bust through as they took the field. It had the words “Edina” and “Hopkins” and “Tonka” with X’s through them, signifying the Lake Conference teams that Eden Prairie had already defeated. “Wayzata – You’re Next” was written underneath the words “Lake Conference Champs?”

Major kudos to the cheerleaders – who are almost always among the brightest students -- for the proper use of “you’re” … how often do we see “your” and “you’re” used incorrectly? But not by these super-smart, grammar-skilled teens. A key component of that sign, as things turned out on the field, was the question mark. And the cheerleaders had minor issues on two fronts: proper placement of their wonderful sign and judging the strength of the wind.

Two poles were taped to the edges of the sign, requiring cheerleaders to stand on their colleagues’ shoulders to hold the big thing up. But when the sign was lifted off the ground – right in front of the Wayzata student section – the words faced the Wayzata side of the field instead of the Eden Prairie side. Boos? Yes, a few. The cheerleaders turned it around and were waiting for their boys to come charging through it when a wind gust came charging through it. Riiiiiiip. Right down the middle..

The game itself? Great, great football … if you believe in the greatness of defense and punters having to ice their legs afterward. Wayzata played a whale of a defensive game; Eden Prairie missed a 52-yard field goal on the opening drive, ended its final possession with a failed fourth-down play, and in between were eight Eagle punts.

Wayzata’s points came on three short field goals by Tyler Scott. The score was 6-0 at halftime and Wayzata coach Brad Anderson didn’t expect the shutout to continue.

“You’re not going to shut them out,” Anderson said, “so I was thinking if you can hold them to 14, can we get three scores? I thought we played a picture-perfect first half and we’re up 6-zip and you’re going, ‘Gosh, one play and we’re down.’ I felt good about how we were playing but I also realized we left some points off the board and I never thought we’d shut them out. I told our coaches on the sidelines, ‘I think we’re going to have to get two scores in the second half because I think they’ll get a couple.’”

Wrong, coach. The big donut on the scoreboard stayed there. The pressing postgame question, then, was this: When was the last time Eden Prairie was held scoreless? I still don’t have an answer, so if anyone knows, uh, let me know, will ya?

Wayzata was simply too fast on its feet for the Eagles, on both sides of the ball. Eden Prairie has mastodons in the line, but Wayzata’s quick-steppers went around them. Eagles running back Andrew Larson never broke a lengthy run, as has been customary this autumn. Larson has a knee issue but before the game coach Mike Grant (right) said his running back was at 90 percent health.

There may have been questions about Wayzata’s defense in the wake of former defensive coordinator Matt Lombardi leaving to become head coach at Maple Grove this year. He was one of the highest-profile assistants around, based on the defense Wayzata has played in recent years. But team is always bigger than any person, whether it be player or coach, and the Trojans defense I saw last night was the best I have seen in many years of watching Wayzata football.

To me, the key plays in the game came on successive drives in the third quarter. Trailing 6-0, Eden Prairie connected on a 37-yard pass that was wiped out by a penalty. The Eagles punted and the defense was hoping to come away with good field position for the offense. Wayzata lined up for a fourth-and-one play at its own 43 … and the Eagles were offsides. The Trojans punted a few plays later, but the ball was downed at the 10 and EP was in another in a long series of holes.

Wayzata won the Lake Conference title, both teams are seeded No. 1 in their respective 5A sections and they could meet once more in the Prep Bowl. But … let’s look ahead a little further than the last weekend in November.

A year from now Class 6A – the so-called Super Class – will debut. Thirty-two teams split into four sections, with Wayzata and Eden Prairie in the same section. When I asked Anderson about that, he said, “The wisdom that be did that. I have no comment on that because I don’t want to get into trouble.”

He was referring to the added class in the sense that that he would rather see a more direct approach to solving scheduling problems. But the 6A playoffs will add one new twist: After first-round section games, the four winning teams from each section will be matched with a different section for crossover games, with the highest seed from one section playing the lowest seed from the other section.

What does this mean? For one, it means that four teams from the same section could reach the state quarterfinals. It also means that Wayzata and Eden Prairie could see each other in the 2012 Prep Bowl.

Which gives the cheerleaders plenty of time to prepare. And as always, they’ll do a great job.

--To see a photo gallery and video from the Wayzata-Eden Prairie game, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 53
*Miles John has driven: 4,044

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter at twitter.com/mshsljohn
No Changes At Top Of State Cross-Country Rankings10/18/2011
The No. 1 teams and individuals remained the same on all accounts – Class 1A and 2A teams as well as individuals – in this week’s cross-country rankings, courtesy of the coaches association.

The top-ranked teams are the Monticello girls and Stillwater boys in 2A and St. Cloud Cathedral in both boys and girls in 1A. Individually, Maria Hauger of Shakopee and Josh Thorson of Wayzata lead the 2A poll and Clare Flanagan and Brandon Clark, both from Blake, lead the 1A rankings.

CLASS 2A

Girls Teams
1. Monticello
2. Lakeville South
3. Eagan
4. East Ridge
5. Shakopee
6. Eden Prairie
7. Wayzata
8. Edina
9. Moorhead
10. Andover
11. Hopkins
12. Prior Lake

Girls Individuals
1. Maria Hauger, 11, Shakopee
2. Jamie Piepenburg, 12, Alexandria
3. Danielle Anderson, 11, Eagan
4. Jenna Truedson, 9, Bemidji
5. Megan Hasz, 8 Alexandria
6. Kaytlyn Larson,9, Lakeville South
7. Chrissy Monson, 11, Albert Lea
8. Bethany Hasz, 8, Alexandria
9. Vivian Hett, 10, Burnsville
10. Erica Seidenkrantz, 12, Monticello
11. Shaelyn Sorensen, 10, Tartan
12. Nicole Heitzman, 11, Andover

Boys Teams
1 Stillwater
2 Rosemount
3 Edina
4 Wayzata
5 Eden Prairie
6 Andover
7 Hopkins
8 Moorhead
9 Eastview
10 Burnsville
11 White Bear Lake
12 Owatonna
Others receiving votes: Rochester Mayo

Boys Individuals
1 Josh Thorson, Wayzata
2 Cole O'Brien, Burnsville
3 Jan Ketterson, Jefferson
4 Joey Duerr, Chaska
5 Glen Ellingson, Moorhead
6 Riley Macon, Rochester Mayo
7 Connor Olson, Wayzata
8 Mubarik Musa, Worthington
9 Will Burke, Edina
10 Zach Roozen, Mounds View
11 Sidney Speir, Eagan
12 Luke McKenzie, Chisago Lakes Area
Others receiving votes: Wayde Hall, Stillwater

CLASS 1A

Girls Teams
1. St. Cloud Cathedral
2. Blake
3. Esko
4. Waseca
5. Adrian
6. LaCrescent
7. Trinity of River Ridge
8. Annandale
9. Minnehaha Academy
10. United South Central
11. Park Rapids
12. Perham

Girls Individuals
1. Clare Flanagan, Blake
2. McKenzie Holt, St. Cloud Christian
3. Marissa Shady, Esko
4. Elena Danielson, St. Cloud Cathedral
5. Emi Trost, Cannon Falls
6. Lydia Lutz, Park Rapids
7. Mary Ennis, Trinity
8. Kayla Woltz, Chatfield
9. Sadie Klug, Waseca
10. Jenessa Meuleners, Belle Plaine
11. Mayla Hohn, Luverne Area
12. Tierney Winter WEM/JWP

Boys Teams
1. St. Cloud Cathedral
2. Perham
3. Blake
4. Waseca
5. Mesabi East
6. Redwood Valley Area
7. Plainview-Elgin-Millville
8. Minnehaha Academy
9. Esko
10. Albany
11. Crosby Ironton
12. Ottertail Central

Boys Individuals
1. Brandon Clark, Blake
2. Charlie Lawrence, Foley
3. Shane Streich, Waseca
4. Romeo Benish, Proctor
5. Nick Stoks, Canby-Minneota/LinHi
6. Matt Welch, Proctor
7. Dan Borash, Royalton
8. Nick Golebiowski, St. Cloud Cathedral
9. Byron Schuldt, Nevis
10. Jake Burr, Glencoe-Silver Lake
11. Pat Reinschmidt, Plainview-E-M
12. Jacob Siekmeier, Math & Science Acad

It’s That Time Of Year: Football, Volleyball, Tennis, Soccer And More10/17/2011
The final two weeks of October always signal that things are changing, and I’m not referring to the goodbye-fall-hello-winter weather that is beginning to roll into Minnesota. This is a time when the prep sports calendar is absolutely packed as fall teams close out the regular season and hit their postseason stride. Here’s a look at what’s going on …

FOOTBALL

The football regular season will end this week with most of the games being held on Wednesday … although there will be six games on Tuesday and six on Thursday. These games will settle all remaining conference races and lay the foundation for the postseason, which will begin next week.

There are 31 undefeated teams in the state and two of them will meet in the biggest game of the regular season. Eden Prairie and Wayzata, the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the Class 5A rankings, will meet at Wayzata on Wednesday night. Both are 7-0 (this is the only game in the state this week between undefeated teams) and the winner will be the Lake Conference champion and take some major momentum into the section playoffs.

UNDEFEATED FOOTBALL TEAMS

NINE-MAN (section)
Spring Grove (1)
Edgerton/Ellsworth (3)
Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley (3)
Eagle Valey (4)
Ulen-Hitterdal (6)
North Woods (7)

CLASS 1A (section)
New Ulm Cathedral (2)
Dawson-Boyd (5)
Mahnomen (6)

CLASS 2A (section)
Waterville-Elysian-Morristown (2)
Norwood-Young America (4)
BOLD (5)
Moose Lake-Willow River (7)
Hawley (8)
Barnesville (8)

CLASS 3A (section)
Plainview-Elgin-Millville (1)
Montevideo (3)
St. Croix Lutheran (4)

CLASS 4A (section)
Mankato West (2)
Hutchinson (2)
Marshall (2)
St. Thomas Academy (3)
Delano (5)
Bemidji (7)
Hermantown (7)

CLASS 5A (section)
Lakeville North (1)
Owatonna (1)
Cretin-Derham Hall (4)
Wayzata (5)
Eden Prairie (6)
Shakopee (6)

GIRLS TENNIS

Most of the team section tournaments have been completed as teams prepare for next week’s state tournament in Minneapolis. Individual section tourneys will wrap up this week. Here are the qualifying teams:

Class 1A: Rochester Lourdes, Waseca, St. James, Blake, Providence Academy, Osakis, Pierz or Foley (they play today) and Staples-Motley.

Class 2A: Rochester Mayo, Minnetonka, Rosemount, Mahtomedi, Mounds View, Edina, Brainerd and the winner of Section 7 (Grand Rapids, Forest Lake, Elk River and Duluth East will decide the winner today).

GIRLS AND BOYS SOCCER

Section titles are being decided this week in Class 1A and 2A, and the state tournament will begin next week.

VOLLEYBALL RANKINGS

CLASS 3A
1. Lakeville South (10) 249
2. Eagan (2) 225
3. Blaine (4) 214
4. Shakopee 192
5. Lakeville North 173
6. Andover 163
7. Bloomington Jefferson 159
8. Eden Prairie (1) 157
9. Wayzata 125
10. Centennial 53
Others: Chanhassen (31), Hutchinson (29), Hill-Murray (16), Waconia (15), Minnetonka (14), Fergus Falls (6), Cretin-Derham Hall (2)

CLASS 2A
1. Marshall (12) 194
2. Jackson County Central 171
3. Stewartville (1) 164
4. Belle Plaine 157
5. Lesuer-Henderson 144
6. Kasson-Mantorville 122
7. Jordan 119
8. Caledonia 91
9. Wadena-Deer Creek 82
10. Byron 58
Others: Maple Lake (26), Sauk Center (18), Visitation (8), New Richland (7), Esko (6), Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton (4)

CLASS 1A
1. Bethlehem Academy (12) 204
2. Wabasha-Kellogg 181
3. Canby (2) 174
4. Southwest Christian 173
5. Mayer Lutheran 153
6. Minneota 149
7. MACCRAY 127
8. Nevis 103
9. WinEMac 97
10. BBE 69
Others: Hancock (20), Ada-Borup (17), Mabel-Canton (8), Fillmore Central (6), Lake of the Woods (3)
Remembering Duluth East’s Rachel Sandell10/17/2011
Last March I wrote about a young girl named Rachel Sandell. This was during the boys state hockey tournament in St. Paul, where her fellow students from Duluth East were holding signs that said “The Love is on for Rachel” and repeatedly chanted “Rachel! Rachel! Rachel!”

Rachel was in Nevada at the time, undergoing cancer treatment. She passed away Sunday. Rachel and her family maintained a CaringBridge site as a way to communicate and share. On Oct. 6, Rachel wrote what would be her final entry on the site. You can find it here: http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/rachelsandell

Here’s an excerpt: “Speaking of love, i wholeheartedly agree with the amazing things my mom had to say in her last two posts. And you people need not be concerned about my mental and emotional well being. Trust me. I feel totally accepting of all of this. Like really. What happens, happens, and it will when it will. I am living this beautiful life until im not anymore, just like all of us.”

Here is what I wrote about Rachel during the boys state hockey tournament on March 10, 2011 …

Rachel, can you hear them? Can you hear your friends back home in Minnesota cheering for you? Can you hear them chanting your name?

We know Rachel Sandell saw the signs. On her computer way out in Reno, Nevada, she was watching her friends from Duluth East High School – on the ice and in the stands – during Thursday’s Class 2A boys state hockey quarterfinals at Xcel Energy Center.

They held up signs in the stands that said, “The Love is on for Rachel!” They chanted, “Rachel! Rachel! Rachel!” They chanted, “We love Rachel! We love Rachel!”

Rachel – watching a webcast of the Channel 45 game telecast -- saw the signs and texted friends who were at the game. She sent one text that said, “I saw the signs! That’s awesome!”

Awesome indeed. While Rachel and her mom are in Reno -- where Rachel is being treated for liver cancer – her Duluth East schoolmates are pulling for her. Cheering for her in the midst of the biggest hockey game of the season. The Duluth East Greyhounds beat White Bear Lake 4-3 in double overtime Thursday, with the winning goal scored by Zac Schendel.

“She’s a friend of mine,” Zac said. “Our team’s talked about her a few times. We want her to stay strong and hopefully she can pull through this.”

When the East team was honored at a pep assembly on Tuesday, the event was dedicated to Rachel. She’s a senior and she’s special; she’s on the dance team, she’s an officer in the Key Club, she’s the editor-in-chief of the yearbook.

“She’s totally involved and everyone knows her,” said fellow senior Jessa Kohlhaas during Thursday’s game. “Everyone misses her. Everyone loves her. We all just want to let her know that.”

Jessa told me that Rachel has been fighting liver cancer since early last summer. “She’s been doing great but recently she took kind of a little bit of a turn,” Jessa said. “She’s out in Reno with her mom to pursue some more aggressive treatment.”

Rachel and her mom are keeping the folks back home updated via a Caring Bridge website (http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/rachelsandell)

“Basically, as a community at East and around Duluth we’re trying to show her and her family support,” Jessa said. “Financially, emotionally, whatever they need we’re just trying to show that we love them, we care about them, and we’re behind them 100 percent.”

East goaltender JoJo Jeanetta, who made 22 saves against White Bear Lake, is also one of Rachel’s many friends.

“It was a really sad story when she was diagnosed, but it’s amazing to see how well she’s dealing with it and to see our whole school get behind her,” JoJo said. “We’re playing for each other and for her.”

As someone wrote on Rachel’s Caring Bridge site after Thursday’s game: “Hope you had a chance to see the East hockey game today and all the beautiful blue “The Love is on for Rachel” signs that the students had! I'm betting all those positive thoughts directed your way helped the team a little bit, too!”

Keep watching and listening, Rachel. We’re all pulling for you.
Hey! We Have Correspondents!10/15/2011
We have added a new wrinkle to John's Journal: stories by correspondents from around the state.

Our first installment is about the biggest Nine-Man football game in Minnesota on Friday evening, and it's provided by a student who is a proud member of the MSHSL Student Sports Information Directors program.

No. 5 Ulen-Hitterdal defeats No. 2 Ada-Borup