John's Journal
Then And Now: Rogers Football Has Come A Long Ways 10/9/2010
I made a return visit to the Rogers High School football stadium Friday night. My first trip there was in 2003, when the school was brand new and the Royals faced Zimmerman in the first football game in school history.

My, how far the Royals have come.

Back in 2003, I watched the Royals practice before that inaugural game. The school had no seniors that first year and all the equipment was brand new. Part of the equation was introducing everybody. Both Rogers and Zimmerman were born of expansion in the Elk River district that year, and Marc Franz – who had been an Elk River assistant for 11 years -- has been the Rogers head coach since Day One.

After the Royals capped Homecoming week with a 53-26 victory over Becker on Friday, I asked Franz about getting from that first season in 2003 to now, when the Royals are undefeated and ranked sixth in Class 4A.

“It’s hard work and we don’t shy away from it,” the coach said. “We tell the kids that football is a hard-working game, it’s not one where you can show up and go through it half-heartedly. In today’s day and age, you’ve got to put the work in ahead of time, and these guys understand that. They’ve worked extremely hard the past couple of years and they know the work comes before the success.

“Each year it has grown and developed in pretty much every single aspect; the atmosphere at the games, the commitment of the players, the competitiveness of the program and everything. It’s been enjoyable just to watch the growth throughout the years. And there’s no one big thing if you look at what happened. Each year we did a little step, and it’s been rewarding just to see the constant growth.”

Thinking back to that first game in 2003, I remember a festive atmosphere and lots of excited people. That was exactly the scene Friday, as well. The weather was once again spectacular – 88 degrees at kickoff and 71 when the game ended – and the atmosphere was electric. There was an overflow crowd and the Rogers band, fans, cheerleaders and dance team kept the place humming.

Becker, which is now 5-1 and ranked fifth in 4A, scored 20 points in the first half. That was newsworthy, considering that Rogers came into the game with an average winning score of 47-1. The Royals began the season with four shutouts, beating Zimmerman 50-0, Elk River 55-0, Cambridge-Isanti 42-0 and St. Michael-Albertville 32-0 before finally giving up a touchdown last week in a 56-7 victory over Princeton.

So when the Bulldogs led 20-19 early in the second quarter, this was something new. But Rogers tightened up the defense and loosened up the offense in rolling to the 27-point win in the biggest game in the state Friday.

Becker and Rogers played twice last season, with the Royals winning both. They won 34-7 at Becker during the Mississippi 8 Conference season, and beat the Bulldogs again 38-0 at Rogers in the Section 5 semifinals. Rogers’ 2009 season ended in the state quarterfinals with a 56-14 loss to Totino-Grace.

The two teams know they are likely to meet again this season, as well, once the Section 5 playoffs roll around.

TO SEE A PHOTO GALLERY AND A POSTGAME INTERVIEW, GO TO THE MSHSL FACEBOOK PAGE.

TIDBITS …

--Interstate 94 has become my arch enemy (highway division). My drive to Rogers, which is in the far northwest sector of the Twin Cities, was slowed by construction on I-94 in the Maple Grove area. That was nothing compared to the return trip after the game. With the highway squeezed down to one lane, it took me 45 minutes to go about five miles. Geez Louise.

--I had a minor emergency a few seconds before kickoff. Every time I have stood on the Becker sidelines before a game, someone on the coaching staff has handed me a piece of Bazooka Joe bubble gum. (It’s a Becker tradition.) As the teams lined up to begin the game, I found myself Bazooka Joe-less. I said to head coach Dwight Lundeen, possibly with a hint of panic in my voice, “Dwight, who’s got the gum?!” He smiled, reached into his pocket and pulled out four pieces of Bazooka Joe. Crisis averted.

--As has become customary this football season, the fantastic weather is not without a down side: mosquitoes. To quote Dean Wormer, I hate those guys.

--Everywhere I go, people ask me the same question, and that was the case at Rogers. From other media people to coaches, officials and fans, people ask: “How’s the job with the MSHSL going?’ And my answer is always the same: “Fantastic. I’m doing what I love to do … hanging out at high school events and having nothing but fun.” And that’s no lie.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 58
*Miles John has driven: 3,847

--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
Apple Valley Sets Boys' Soccer Record10/9/2010
The Apple Valley High School boys' soccer team closed the regular season with a 5-0 victory at Farmington on Saturday afternoon, but the bigger number from the game is 41.

That's how many consecutive games the Eagles have won, and that is a state record. They reached 40 in a row when they beat Eagan on Thursday.

Stillwater won 40 in a row from 1995 to 1997. Apple Valley is the defending Class 2A state champion and is ranked No. 1 in 2A. With Saturday's victory, they take a record of 17-0 into the upcoming postseason.

A photo gallery from today's game has been posted on the MSHSL Facebook page.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 60
*Miles John has driven: 3,919

--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
This Week's Football Rankings10/7/2010
CLASS 5A
1 (1) Eden Prairie (6-0)
2 (2) Cretin-Derham Hall (5-0)
3 (3) Wayzata (4-0)
4 (4) Mounds View (5-0)
5 (6) Rosemount (5-0)
6 (5) Blaine (5-0)
7 (7) Andover (5-0)
8 (9) Brainerd (5-0)
9 (10) Rochester Century (5-0)
10 (NR) Stillwater Area (4-1)
Others receiving votes: Shakopee, Edina, Eastview

CLASS 4A
1 (1) St. Thomas Academy (5-0)
2 (2) Mankato West (5-0)
3 (4) Rogers (5-0)
4 (3) Mahtomedi (4-1)
5 (5) Becker (5-0)
6 (6) Totino-Grace (4-1)
7 (7) South St. Paul (5-0)
8 (10) Sartell-St. Stephen (4-1)
9 (NR) St. Paul Central (5-0)
10 (NR) Bemidji (4-1)
Others receiving votes: Alexandria, Delano, Northfield, New Prague, Chisago Lakes, Grand Rapids, St. Michael-Albertville, Waconia

CLASS 3A
1 (1) Albany (5-0)
2 (2) Pequot Lakes (5-0)
3 (3) Rochester Lourdes (5-0)
4 (4) Glencoe-Silver Lake (4-1)
5 (5) Norwood-Young America (5-0)
6 (6) New London-Spicer (4-1)
7 (8) Holy Family Catholic (5-0)
8 (9) Dassel-Cokato (4-1)
9 (10) Virginia (5-0)
10 (NR) DeLaSalle (4-1)
Others receiving votes: Milaca, Pine City, Thief River Falls, Blue Earth, Sibley East

CLASS 2A
1 (1) Waterville-Elysian-Morristown (5-0)
2 (2) Eden Valley-Watkins (5-0)
3 (3) Luverne (5-0)
4 (4) Moose Lake-Willow River (5-0)
5 (5) Caledonia (5-0)
6 (7) Breckenridge (5-0)
7 (9) Triton (5-0)
8 (10) Ottertail Central (5-0)
9 (T8) Pierz (4-1)
10 (NR) Jackson County Central (4-1)
Others receiving votes: Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton, Maple Lake, Southland, Tracy-Milroy-Balaton, Braham, Lewiston-Altura, Hawley

CLASS 1A
1 (1) Minneota (5-0)
2 (2) Barnesville (5-0)
3 (3) Springfield (5-0)
4 (4) Mahnomen (5-0)
5 (5) Browerville (5-0)
6 (6) New Ulm Cathedral (4-1)
7 (7) Fosston (4-1)
8 (T10) Adrian (4-1)
9 (NR) East Central (4-1)
10 (NR) Blooming Prairie (3-2)
10 (NR) Le Center (4-1)
Others receiving votes: Dawson-Boyd, Cedar Mountain/Comfrey, Royalton, Red Lake County, Barnum

NINE-MAN
1 (1) Stephen-Argyle (5-0)
2 (3) Grand Meadow (5-0)
2 (2) Nicollet (5-0)
4 (4) Edgerton/Ellsworth (5-0)
5 (6) Goodridge-Grygla (5-0)
6 (7) McGregor (5-0)
7 (10) Wheaton (5-0)
8 (NR) Floodwood (5-0)
9 (8) Underwood (4-1)
10 (NR) Littlefork-Big Falls (5-0)
10 (NR) Spring Grove (5-0)
Others receiving votes: Hills-Beaver Creek, Ada-Borup, Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley, Hillcrest Lutheran
















































Board of Directors Update, But First … 10/7/2010
Today’s MSHSL Board of Directors meeting has begun, but let’s start the day with a great little note about the good things that happen with our Minnesota kids. Here’s an email that arrived this morning:

John,

One of our football captains was on his way to school on Tuesday when he witnessed a very serious car accident. One car t-boned another and the car that was t-boned ended up spinning around and catching a wheel on the curb causing it to tip on its roof. Inside was a mom and I believe two children in car seats. Without concern for his own safety, he ran to the car and began to pry open the doors to get the family out. With the help of other good Samaritans, they were able to get the family to safety.

I am very proud of this young man and wanted you to know about another example of Minnesota's outstanding kids.

Joel Olson
Activities Director
Forest Lake High School

Thanks Joel. (I’ve asked about the identity of this young man. As soon as I know his name, I’ll post it here.)
Zero Week Football Games Approved10/7/2010
The MSHSL Board of Directors has made a major change in the format of the football season, approving Zero Week games beginning in 2011. The action came during this morning’s board meeting.

Zero Week will allow teams to play their first game one week earlier than the traditional starting date. Teams would have to receive MSHSL approval before scheduling a Zero Week game. Teams that play Zero Week games will begin practice one week earlier than normal and have a bye week later in the season, with details about practice limitations during the bye week to be decided.

Here’s an example of how Zero Week will work: If Team A cannot find an opponent during Week 4 of the regular season and Team B cannot find an opponent during Week 5, they could agree to play each other during Zero Week, then seek approval from the MSHSL.

MSHSL associate director Kevin Merkle spoke at length to the board about football scheduling issues. It’s estimated that approximately 20 percent of high school football teams in Minnesota have problems in filling their schedules. Some schools have sought to find opponents from other states, but teams in some states have no open dates. During the recent area meetings, representatives of 252 schools responded to a questionnaire about Zero Week and other scheduling questions, and 211of the responses were positive about the flexibility Zero Week allows football teams.

Board member Mike Rusinko said, “I don’t have a problem with this solution, but it feels a little Band-Aidy to me.” That was followed by a discussion of larger issues concerning football scheduling.

A task force has studied the problem, resulting in several possible solutions. Under these scenarios, teams may play one or two games against non-section opponents, with the rest of the regular season consisting of games against section opponents. The postseason format could remain the same with all teams advancing to the section playoffs, or it could allow the top four teams from each section to advance. Under the second format, teams that did not qualify for the postseason would be allowed to schedule an additional game against another non-playoff team.

The meeting is continuing. Further updates will be posted as warranted …

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 56
*Miles John has driven: 3,749

--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