John's Journal
Coming Soon: Catch Him If You Can11/16/2010
I conducted interviews Tuesday afternoon in researching a story that will be posted here on the Journal at some point Wednesday.

The story is about the most dynamic high school football player in Minnesota, someone whose team will play in this weekend's state semifinals at the Metrodome. The young man has a truly interesting background and a very bright future.

It's fun to watch him on the field, and it's just as much fun to spend some time with him.

Stay tuned ...
Live From The Metrodome: Today's State Football Doubleheader11/15/2010
We'll get an early taste of indoor football today when two state quarterfinal games are held at the Metrodome.

Both games were postponed on Saturday because of the weather. In a Class 2A game, Triton and Maple Lake were originally scheduled to play at Lakeville North. In 3A, DeLaSalle and LeSueur-Henderson had been scheduled at Farmington.

Here is today's Metrodome schedule ...

--4 p.m.: Triton (11-0) vs. Maple Lake (9-2).

--7 p.m.: DeLaSalle (10-1) vs. LeSueur-Henderson (7-4)

I'll be inside the big blue room for both games, posting updates on Facebook and Twitter and posting some photos, too.

We'll return to the Dome on Friday and Saturday for the state semifinals in all six classes. Those will be long days of football, with the Nine-Man semifinals starting at 8 a.m. each day and the Class 5A games scheduled for 8:15 p.m. starts.

In addition, this week also will see the girls' state swimming and diving championships at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, as well as the state adapted soccer tournament on Friday and Saturday at Stillwater High School.

Have a great week!

A Close Game, A Not-So-Close Game And Football Marches On11/15/2010
Monday’s snowstorm-induced football doubleheader at the Metrodome provided one close game and one not-so-close game, but you can bet your favorite scoop shovel that all the players and fans – not to mention media members – were happy to be indoors for the two state quarterfinal games. Both games were postponed at south-suburban sites due to Saturday’s snow.

One of the first comments I heard from the crowd before the first game was this: “Isn’t it great to get out of school?” You would expect that those words came from a student, but no, they were spoken by an adult. A teacher or school staff member, I assume, who was apparently blessed with the gift of complete honesty.

Give credit to the Metrodome crew for making the site ready for football, on the heels of a monster truck show over the weekend. Tons of dirt were removed from the playing surface, leaving the slightest dusty haze in the dome when Monday’s games began.

The first game was a Class 2A contest between unbeaten Triton and twice-beaten Maple Lake (right photo). Triton was the favorite, considering the Cobras’ perfect record and last week’s victory over defending state champion Waterville-Elysian-Morristown.

Triton is a state tourney veteran, too, while Maple Lake was making its first trip to state. The Irish came into the game with a 9-2 record, making one think they would face an uphill battle against Triton.

One would be wrong. Triton had to work mighty hard to defeat the Irish 28-21 and give Cobras coach Don Henderson his 200th career victory against 62 defeats in 24 years. Maple Lake was inside the Triton 20 with less than three minutes to play, but couldn’t convert on fourth down from the 19.

The second game, a 3A quarterfinal, went more according to expectations. DeLaSalle came in riding a 10-1 record behind a high-powered offense, facing a LeSueur-Henderson team that was 4-4 in the regular season before getting hot as the fifth seed in Section 2.

The Islanders’ Reggie Gandy (left), who had rushed 257 times for 2,606 yards and 33 touchdowns, had three scores before the second quarter was three minutes old. A field goal made the score 23-0 before the Giants mounted a threat. But LeSueur-Henderson was stopped on fourth down at the DeLaSalle 1 late in the first half. After that, it was all Gandy all the time. His fifth touchdown of the game put the Islanders ahead 37-0 in the third quarter. The final was 44-0.

Other Tidbits from the Dome …

--As veteran stadium announcer Dave Giles checked the pronunciations of some DeLaSalle players’ names with coach Sean McMenomy before the game, he delved into the past. Giles reminded McMenomy that he had been the announcer when McMenomy was a high school player at Rosemount.

--Diet Coke Count: Zero. We have an issue here. The Metrodome, once a Coke-only facility, is now Pepsi-only. Pepsi also produces Diet Mountain Dew, which is actually the old scribe’s No. 1 choice, even over the beloved Diet Coke. I consumed one Diet Dew at the Dome, but with the state semifinals and Prep Bowl coming up over the next two weekends, do I begin a Diet Mountain Dew count? Or is that a slap in the face to the tradition-laden Diet Coke Count? I’ll be pondering this heavy question in the days to come, and feel free to offer input via the email address at the top of this post.

It’s a real dilemma…
WEATHER ALERT: Two Saturday Football Games Postponed11/13/2010
Today's snow has forced some changes to the Saturday schedule of football playoff games.

Here's the update ...

--Today's Class 2A game at Lakeville North between Maple Lake and Triton will be played Monday at a site and time to be determined.

--Same plan for today's 3A game at Farmington between DeLaSalle and LeSueur-Henderson. It has been postponed until Monday, with the site and time to be determined.

All other football games today will be played as currently scheduled.

And the state volleyball tournament is safe and warm inside the Xcel Energy Center.

Updates to come ...
A Snowy, Slippery Day For Volleyball And (Some) Football11/13/2010
Saturday. Big day. Snowy day. Slushy day. Both-hands-on-the-wheel kind of day.

Once me and my snowblower had completed the season opener, I drove to the Xcel Energy Center for volleyball’s Championship Saturday. Didn’t see one snowplow en route, but saw cars in the ditch and cars fishtailing as they hit slick sports. What fun.

Help me out here: On Tuesday it was me and my lawnmower working in the yard. And Saturday was snowblower time? I just do not understand.

Speaking of the weather, if you peeked at the Journal earlier today you saw the news that two football state quarterfinals were postponed today due to the snow/ice/slush. The Class 2A game between Maple Lake and Triton at Lakeville North and the 3A game between DeLaSalle and LeSueur-Henderson at Farmington will be played Monday, sites and times to be determined.

The best places for immediate information on such things as postponed games and playoff results are the MSHSL Facebook page (now proud home of more than 1,500 Friends!) and @MSHSLjohn on Twitter. The news flows fast and furious in those two spots.

Here at Volleyball Central, we are working our way through fifth-, third- and first-place matches.

Today's results at this point …

--In Class 1A, Wabasha-Kellogg leads Martin County West two games to none in the title match, Minneota beat Mayer Lutheran 3-2 for third place and Win-E-Mac beat Belgrade 3-1 to finish fifth.

--In 2A, Visitation beat Marshall 3-1 to finish fifth and Stewartville beat Sauk Centre 3-0 to finish third. The upcoming title game is between Wadena-Deer Creek and Hutchinson.

--In 3A, East Ridge beat Andover 3-1 to place fifth and Centennial will meet Waconia in the upcoming fifth-place game. In the finals, it will be Lakeville North vs. Wayzata.

--Diet Coke count: one for the day, 10 for the tournament.

More to come…