John's Journal
A Big Crowd And A Big Win For St. Thomas Academy11/5/2010
In one of the biggest football games in the state Friday night, St. Thomas Academy had taken a 14-0 lead against South St. Paul early in the second quarter of the Class 4A Section 3 championship game. The South St. Paul pep band, seated behind one of the end zones, began playing the Journey song, “Don’t Stop Believing.”

The Packers never stopped believing in themselves, but St. Thomas Academy never stopped scoring. The Cadets rolled to a 35-7 victory in front of an overflow crowd and put themselves into next week’s state quarterfinals against Northfield. That game will be played next Friday at Lakeville North.

If you believe in setting a tone, the opening kickoff definitely set a tone. The Cadets’ Paddy Clancy returning the kick 85 yards for a score. Will Ratelle scored on a 28-yard run for the 14-0 margin on the first play of the second quarter and quarterback Sam McManus ran for two scores and threw to Augie Braddock (number 5 in this photo) for the final touchdown as the Cadets improved to 10-0.

St. Thomas Academy is ranked No. 1 in 4A, and Friday’s performance over the fourth-ranked Packers may have solidified the Cadets as the team to beat. The Packers came in with a 10-0 record, having won by an average score of 38-10 this season.

My theory going into the game was that South St. Paul needed to take a two-touchdown lead in order to beat the Cadets. STA is explosive, and playing on their home field’s artificial turf played to their advantage. South St. Paul boasts one of the state’s best running games regardless of class, with junior Sam Sura (pictured below) rushing for more than 1,900 yards this season.

But Clancy’s kickoff return got the Cadets rolling and their defense took it from there. Sura was held to 75 yards on 22 carries and QB Harrison Rund completed two of nine passes for 37 yards. For STA, McManus, Braddock, Ratelle and Will McFadden each rushed for between 55 and 63 yards. In total, the Cadets outgained the Packers 325 yards to 162.

DESPITE THE DEFEAT, the Packers had an outstanding season. They have received tremendous support from their fans all season, and that was evident Friday night. The bleachers on the Packers’ side of the field were completely full an hour before kickoff.


--Two defending state champs lost: Triton beat Waterville-Elysian-Morristown 27-26 in 1A and Albany beat New London-Spicer 36-18 in 3A.

--LeSueur-Henderson, which beat Minneapolis Washburn 60-32 to advance to state in 3A, had a 4-4 regular season and was seeded fifth in Section 2.

--One No. 4 seed advanced to state: East Grand Forks, champions of Section 8 in 3A.

--In games between unbeaten teams, St. Thomas Academy beat South St. Paul; Triton beat Waterville-Elysian-Morristown; Barnesville beat Browerville 57-21 in 1A; and Edgerton-Ellsworth beat Wheaton 22-16 in Nine-Man.

--State quarterfinal games that are rematches from the regular season: Rosemount vs. Lakeville South in 5A, Cretin-Derham Hall vs. Mounds View in 5A, and Ada-Borup vs. Goodridge-Grygla in Nine-Man.

To see a photo gallery from the St. Thomas Academy-South St. Paul game, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.
A Great Day Of Soccer At The Metrodome11/4/2010
Championship Thursday was filled with great plays and memorable moments as four state soccer titles were decided at the Metrodome.

--In the Class 1A boys game, Prairie Seeds Academy of Brooklyn Park defeated Mankato East 3-2 in overtime, with Gerald Ben scoring the game-winner. Both teams came into the championship game unbeaten.

--Rogers captured the 1A girls title with a 3-1 victory over Mahtomedi. Jessica Bianchi scored two goals for the Royals, who capped an unbeaten season. The loss was the first for Mahtomedi.

--Apple Valley defeated Minneapolis Southwest 3-0 in the 2A boys contest, giving the Eagles their second title in a row and extending their state-record winning streak to 47 games. Southwest finished the season with a 22-1 record. Hudson Fasching scored two goals for the Eagles.

--The final game of the day pitted Lake Conference rivals Eden Prairie and Wayzata for the 2A girls title. Eden Prairie won 3-0 with Taylor Uhl scoring all three goals.

For photo galleries from each game, visit the MSHSL Facebook page.
Things To Know About This Week's Football Section Finals11/3/2010
Ninety-six teams are still playing football in Minnesota, and that number will be cut in half when section championship games are played Friday and Saturday around the state.

Four games are especially noteworthy because they match up undefeated teams ...

--4A Section 3/ No. 4 South St. Paul (10-0) at No. 1 St. Thomas Academy (9-0), 7 p.m. Friday. These teams met twice last season, with STA winning both. They are both in the Classic Suburban Conference but did not meet during the 2010 regular season.

--2A Section 2/ No. 6 Triton (10-0) at No. 1 Waterville-Elysian-Morristown (10-0), 7 p.m. Friday. This is a rematch of last year’s section final, which W-E-M won 27-0 en route to the state title.

--1A Section 6/ No. 2 Barnesville (10-0) vs. No. 3 Browerville (10-0) at the Fargodome, 3 p.m. Friday This is another rematch from last year’s section championship. Barnesville beat Browerville 33-7 before falling to Minneota in the state quarterfinals.

--Nine-Man Section 3/ No. 3 Edgerton-Ellsworth (10-0) vs. No. 6 Wheaton (10-0) at the Fargodome, 12:30 p.m. Friday. These teams met last year in the section semifinals, with Wheaton winning 40-0 before losing to Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley in the section final.

Here are some other numbers, facts and assorted tidbits…

The playoff field includes…
43 of 48 No. 1 seeds
28 No. 2 seeds
18 No. 3 seeds
3 No. 4 seeds (Hill-Murray in 4A Section 4, Sauk Rapids in 4A Section 8, East Grand Forks in 3A Section 8)
2 No. 5 seeds (LeSueur-Henderson in 3A Section 2, Glenville-Emmons in Nine-Man Section 1)
1 No. 6 seed (Cleveland in Nine-Man Section 2)
0 No. 7 seed
0 No. 8 seeds

This weekend’s matchups include …
27 No. 1 vs. No. 2
15 No. 1 vs. No. 3
1 No. 2 vs. No. 4
2 No. 3 vs. No. 4
1 No. 2 vs. No. 5
1 No. 3 vs. No. 5

In 5A, 2A and 1A, all eight No. 1 seeds are still alive…
In 4A and 3A, six No. 1 seeds remain
In Nine-Man, seven top seeds remain

Defending state champions still alive …
Minneota (1A), Waterville-Elysian-Morristown (2A), New London-Spicer (3A), Totino-Grace (4A), Cretin-Derham Hall (5A).

Top-ranked teams still alive …
Nicollet (Nine-Man), Springfield (1A), Waterville-Elysian-Morristown (2A), Albany (3A), St. Thomas Academy (4A), Wayzata (5A).

After this weekend’s games, state quarterfinals will be played Nov. 11, 12 and 13 at sites around the state before moving to the Metrodome for the semifinals Nov. 19-20 and the Prep Bowl games Nov. 26-27.
More Indoor Soccer; Football And Cross-Country Ahead11/2/2010
Greetings again from the press box at the Metrodome, where the state soccer tournament continued Tuesday. The day’s most exciting game ended with Apple Valley defeating Lakeville North 2-1 in a Class 2A boys semifinal.

Apple Valley is the defending state champion and Tuesday the Eagles extended their state-record winning streak to 46 games. Apple Valley and Lakeville North were scoreless until the 67th minute, when Tom Obarski got a goal for the Eagles. Lakeville North answered with an unassisted goal by Torbjorn Morkeberg in the 71st minute for a 1-1 tie, and the game-winner came in the final minute of regulation when Dane Grundstrom scored for Apple Valley.

In the first 2A boys game Tuesday, Minneapolis Southwest defeated Stillwater 2-0. The Lakers will meet Apple Valley in Thursday’s title game.

Thursday’s championship slate looks like this: Prairie Seeds Academy and Mankato East will play for the 1A boys title at 10 a.m., Rogers and Mahtomedi for the 1A girls crown at 12:30, the 2A boys game between Apple Valley and Minneapolis Southwest will be at 3 p.m. and Eden Prairie and Wayzata will decide the 2A girls champion at 5:30 p.m. One third-place game will be held Thursday, with Lakeville North meeting Stillwater in 2A boys at 8 a.m.

To see lots of photos from Tuesday’s soccer action, check out the world-famous MSHSL Facebook page.

This is a busy week of prep sports, with football section finals being played Friday and Saturday and the state cross-country meet being held Saturday at St. Olaf College in Northfield. I’m planning to watch South St. Paul play at St. Thomas Academy on Friday in a battle of unbeaten teams in Class 4A Section 3, and then bright and early Saturday morning I’ll be in Northfield for the annual running of the kids.

And if you haven’t already done so, get out and vote today.
Who Are Those Guys Standing In A Snowstorm? Officials!11/2/2010
This photo may appear to be a bunch of ice fishermen wearing matching outfits in an attempt to stay warm on a cold January evening. But they are Minnesota high school football officials, and they represent the passion and commitment of all the men and women who give back so our high school students can have the best possible experience.

This photo was taken a week ago, on Oct. 26, at a Nine-Man section football playoff game in Fergus Falls. The officials are referee Haakon P. Vaadeland, umpire Rod Erickson, linesman Jim Runyan, line judge Jerry Loud and back judge Dan Rehkamp from the Viking Land Officials Association.

The temperature was 34 degrees with wind gusts between 40 and 50 mph, a wind chill around 0 and up to four inches of snow on the field. Hillcrest Lutheran defeated Ashby in the game, and the commitment of the officials will be remembered for a long, long time.