State Football Tournament
|Mahnomen, Hutchinson, Eden Prairie to defend titles|
Mahnomen, Hutchinson, and Eden Prairie are the only champions that have survived the first two rounds of tournament play. Six teams that made it to their respective championship games still boast unblemished records.
The Mahnomen Indians in Class A and Hutchinson Tigers in Class AAAA are both looking for their second consecutive titles. The Indians are looking for their eighth overall title and the Tigers are seeking their fifth. If the Eden Prairie Eagles win in Class AAAAAA, it would be their third consecutive and ninth overall title.
Mahnomen and Owatonna, both of whom played in Prep Bowl I at the newly constructed Metrodome in 1982, return for this year's finals. Mahnomen was the Class B runner-up that year and Owatonna was the Class AA runner-up. Owatonna and Brainerd will play in the Prep Bowl's final game in the Metrodome, the Class AAAAA championship, at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 30.
The 2013 Prep Bowl will be conducted over two days, Friday, Nov. 29 and Saturday, Nov. 30, at the Metrodome in downtown Minneapolis. KSTC-TV, Channel 45 will broadcast all seven games live, as well as feed numerous cable systems around the state. The games will also be streamed live for Web viewing at www.Prep45.com. The webcasts will cost $4.97 for one day of live events, and for on-delay viewing at $4.97 each.
Friday, Nov. 29
Class 9-Man: Underwood (10-3) vs. Grand Meadow (12-1) @ 10 a.m.
The Underwood Rockets are making their fifth appearance, but first since 2010. The Superlarks of Grand Meadow are making their second consecutive and sixth overall appearance. They earned runner-up honors last year. Neither team was ranked in the final Associated Press (AP) poll and neither has won a state championship.
Underwood has a formidable ground game, gaining 4,406 yards this season. Junior Noah Thompson scored 23 rushing touchdowns for the Rockets and garnered 2,290 yards on 270 attempts. Sophomore Matt Biegler added nine rushing touchdowns for Underwood. Senior quarterback Adam Creek completed 26-of-62 passing attempts and tallied three touchdowns. Senior Max Kollar led the defense with 83 tackles, one interception, and one fumble recovery. Underwood averages 28.6 points per game this season and their opponents score an average of 20.9 against them. In their 34-20 semifinal win over Ely, the Rockets rushed for all five TDs.
Grand Meadow also prefers to keep the ball on the ground. Through the semifinals, the Superlarks had rushed for 3,221 yards and completed 75-of-145 passing attempts for 1,420 yards. Junior Landon Jacobson rushed for 1,778 yards and scored 28 touchdowns. Jacobson also paced the defense with 152 tackles, one fumble recovery, and one interception. Senior quarterback Trenton Bleifus added 643 rushing yards and 18 touchdowns and also ran the passing game with 1,371 yards and 14 additional touchdowns on 70 completions. Grand Meadow has averaged 40.0 points per game while holding opponents to 15.2 points per game. In their 21-7 semifinal win over Kittson County Central, Grand Meadow ran for two TDs and passed for one more.
Class AA: Minneota/Lincoln HI (13-0) vs. Chatfield (12-1) @ 1 p.m.*
The unranked Vikings of Minneota/Lincoln HI are making their first appearance under this name as a co-op, but Minneota made 11 appearances between 1985 and 2010. Minneota won previous titles in 1986, 1987, 1988, and 2009. The H and I of Lincoln HI stands for Hendricks and Ivanhoe, a consolidated school district. The school is a pre-school through 12th grade facility.The No. 9-ranked Gophers of Chatfield return for their first appearance since 1999. This is their eighth appearance and they won three consecutive championships between 1994 and 1996.
Minneota/Lincoln HI splits its offensive effort almost evenly between its rushing and passing games. Senior Jeff Gladis accounted for 1,464 rushing yards with 13 touchdowns on 204 carries. Senior quarterback Austin Buysse completed just over 65 percent of his pass attempts and tossed 32 touchdowns with only six interceptions. Junior Cole Hennen had a team-high 80.5 tackles for the Vikings. Minneota/Lincoln HI averages 44.6 points per game while holding opponents to 10.3 points per game. Senior Nathan Pavek and senior Jordan Beck garnered two touchdowns apiece in the Vikings' 50-24 semifinal victory over Maple Lake.
Chatfield prefers to keep the ball on the ground with senior Jacob Neis. Neis accounted for 27 touchdowns and 1,671 rushing yards this year. Senior quarterback Nate Skare completed 44 of his 89 passing attempts and connected with junior Drew Hurley for five receiving touchdowns. Chatfield averages 34.5 points per game and their opponents score an average of 9.8 points against them. Neis tallied four touchdowns on 26 carries, gaining 233 yards overall, in the Gophers' 41-21 semifinal victory over Hawley.
Class AAAA: Hutchinson (12-0) vs. Academy of Holy Angels, Richfield (7-5) at 4 p.m.*
The defending champions from Hutchinson are making their second consecutive and 18th overall appearance. In addition to last year they also won titles in 1983, 1984 and 1998. Hutchinson also made three consecutive appearances as a co-op with New Century Charter School between 2003 and 2005. The Tigers were the top team in this year's final AP poll. The unranked Stars of Academy of Holy Angels return for their fourth appearance. They made their last in 2005. The Stars are still in the hunt for their first championship.
The Hutchinson Tigers averaged 39.7 points per game this season while holding their opponents to an average of 10.0. Senior Tory Adams rushed for 1,597 yards on 200 carries and tallied 25 touchdowns. Junior Jayden Fleck added 10 rushing touchdowns on 114 carries. Junior quarterback Marcus Hahn completed 58 percent of his passing attempts for 12 touchdowns and 924 yards. Juniors Keegan Macemon and Adam Elliott and senior Jake Wendland each grabbed three interceptions this year. Hahn rushed for two touchdowns and passed for one more as the Tigers defeated Delano 35-9 in the semifinals. Hahn gained 121 yards on six carries and completed 4-of-5 pass attempts for an additional 35 yards.
Academy of Holy Angels' junior quarterback Anthony Ekholm accounted for nine rushing and 12 passing touchdowns this year. Ekholm gained 662 yards on the ground on 75 attempts and he also completed 109-of-181 passing attempts for another 1,358. Senior Adam Hoffman was Ekholm's favorite target; he caught 35 passes for 477 yards and six touchdowns. Junior Connor Moriarty added eight rushing touchdowns for Academy of Holy Angels. He netted 947 yards on 165 carries. Connor McCarthy, a senior, paced the Star's defense; he had 149 tackles and one interception this year. Adam Hoffman accounted for two touchdowns as the Stars defeated DeLaSalle of Minneapolis 33-21 in the semifinals. His first was on a 30-yard pass from sophomore Danny Hoffman and his second was on a 7-yard run.
Class AAAAAA: Eden Prairie (11-0) vs. Rosemount (11-1) @ 7 p.m.*
The two-time defending champions from Eden Prairie are making their ninth consecutive and 17th overall appearance. They took top honors in Class AAAAA in 2011 and in Class AAAAAA in 2012. They were the top-ranked team in this year's final AP poll and also won titles in 1996, 1997, 2000, 2002, 2006 and 2007. The Irish of Rosemount return to make their second consecutive and eighth overall appearance. They lost in the semifinals last year and tied for No. 3 in this year's final AP poll. Rosemount won one previous championship in 1981.
This year's Eden Prairie squad has a stellar ground game. Senior Dan Fisher notched 857 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns on 148 attempts. Senior Anthony Anderson added 1,179 yards and 10 rushing touchdowns on 127 carries. Senior quarterback Ryan Connelly connected on 66 percent of his pass attempts for 697 yards and 19 touchdowns. He tossed eight of those passes to senior Gamiel Hall, who tallied three touchdowns and 201 yards. The Eagles averaged 41.4 points per game this year. Eden Prairie averaged 7.2 yards per play in its 47-22 semifinal win over Totino-Grace of Fridley.
This year's Rosemount squad splits its yardage almost equally between rushing and passing. Junior Dmitri Williams rushed for 13 touchdowns and tallied 722 yards on 148 carries. Williams also caught 27 passes for an additional 9 touchdowns and 552 yards. Junior quarterback Jackson Erdmann completed 57 percent of his passing attempts and connected for 1,747 yards and 25 touchdowns. Senior Craig Szymanski paced the Irish defense with 85 tackles and one fumble recovery. Senior Connor Yepsen added 7 interceptions for Rosemount. The Irish average 38.3 points per game while holding opponents to 9.7. Williams had two touchdowns, including a 77-yard punt return, as Rosemount defeated Roseville Area 35-28 in the semifinals.
Saturday, Nov. 30
Class A: Dawson-Boyd (12-1) vs. Mahnomen (13-0) @ 10 a.m.
The Blackjacks of Dawson-Boyd return for their third consecutive and overall appearance. They won a title in 2011 and lost in the 2012 semifinals. Dawson-Boyd was ranked No. 5 in this year's final AP poll. The defending champions from Mahnomen return to make their fourth consecutive and 22nd overall appearance. They were the top team in this year's final AP poll. If the Indians win, it would be their eighth title. In addition to last year they also won in 1980, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, and 1998. The Dawson-Boyd Blackjacks averaged 37.8 points per game this season and held their opponents to an average of 12.5 points. Junior Dalton Palmer and senior Joey Lee lead the offensive charge. Palmer is the main ball carrier and has gained 1,554 yards and scored 19 touchdowns. Lee, the quarterback, completed 58 percent of his pass attempts and connected with receivers for 2,013 yards and 16 touchdowns. On the defensive side of the ball, senior Jamie Arvold has accounted for 80 tackles and five fumble recoveries. Palmer had an additional 75 tackles and one fumble recovery. Lee scored two touchdowns as Dawson-Boyd defeated Sleepy Eye St. Mary's 27-18 in the semifinals.
Mahnomen gains most of its yardage and scores most of its touchdowns on the ground. Sophomore quarterback Tom Pavek has scored 13 rushing touchdowns and netted 530 yards on 88 attempts. Senior Austin Reitan added 14 rushing touchdowns and has tallied 921 yards on 129 attempts. When Pavek took his game to the air, he completed 19-of-32 attempts for an additional four touchdowns. Senior Kal Handyside leads the defense with 39.5 tackles. Mahnomen averages 41.2 points per game while opponents average 3.3 points per game. In a rematch of the 2012 Prep Bowl championship, Mahnomen defeated Bethlehem Academy of Faribault 19-0 in the semifinals. Reitan, Pavek, and senior Nathan Hanson each scored a touchdown in the victory.
Class AAA: St. Croix Lutheran, West St. Paul (10-2) vs. New London-Spicer (10-2) @ 1 p.m.*
The Crusaders of St. Croix Lutheran are making their third consecutive and fourth overall appearance. They lost in the quarterfinals in 2012 after claiming their only championship in 2011. They came in at No. 5 in this year's final poll. The Wildcats of New London-Spicer are making their second consecutive and fourth overall appearance. They won one previous championship in 2009, but also bowed out in the quarterfinals in 2012. New London-Spicer tied for No. 9 in this year's final AP poll.
The St. Croix Lutheran Crusaders play a solid ground game, accumulating 4,026 yards this year. Senior quarterback David Ponath rushed for 14 touchdowns on 120 carries and netted a total of 923 yards. Senior Joe Werz had 63 carries and tallied 12 touchdowns and 700 yards. When Ponath passed the ball, he tallied 1,016 yards and 14 touchdowns on 39 completions. Senior Caleb Olson led the Crusaders' defense with 52 tackles. St. Croix Lutheran averaged 39.8 points per game and allowed opponents 16.4 points per game. A 23-yard, fourth-quarter field goal from junior Alex Bornschlegl was the only tally as the Crusaders defeated Proctor 3-0 in the semifinals.
New London-Spicer rushed for 3,682 yards this season while netting 1,454 yards passing. Senior Adam Essler led the ground game for the Wildcats. He scored 32 touchdowns on 254 rushing attempts and gained 2,209 yards. Senior Ben Beuning added 11 rushing touchdowns for the Wildcats on 78 carries. Senior quarterback Ryan Vraa completed 70 percent of his pass attempts and threw for 19 touchdowns. Junior Shane Zylstra caught 42 of Vraa's passes and turned them into 681 yards and 12 touchdowns. Beuning also led the Wildcats' defense with 89 tackles and one interception. New London-Spicer averaged 45.0 points per game while allowing opponents 21.6 points per game. Essler rushed for 171 yards and had two touchdowns in New London-Spicer's 36-16 semifinal win over Rochester Lourdes.
Class AAAAA: Brainerd (12-0) vs. Owatonna (12-0) @ 4 p.m.*
Brainerd returns to tournament action after a two-year hiatus. The No. 3-ranked Warriors are making their ninth appearance. Owatonna is making its second consecutive and fifth overall appearance. The Huskies took runner-up honors in 2012 and were ranked No. 1 in the final AP poll. Both teams are still searching for their first title.
Brainerd likes to keep the ball on the ground with seniors Conor Gessell and Logan Davis. Gessell accounted for 18 touchdowns and 1,460 rushing yards, and Davis added 17 touchdowns and 910 rushing yards. Senior quarterback Thomas Stoxen completed 50 of his 90 passing attempts and connected with senior Isaiah Smith for three receiving touchdowns. Senior Cole Smith led the Warriors with four interceptions and a team-high 158 tackles. Brainerd averages 33.8 points per game and their opponents score an average of 12.3 points against them. In the semifinals, Gessell gave the Warriors their final advantage after scampering 41 yards into the endzone in the third quarter. Brainerd held on and defeated Chaska 20-19.
Owatonna relies heavily on its running game this year. The Huskies compiled 2,786 yards on the ground with senior Aaron Peterson accounting for 1,863 of those yards. Peterson tallied 26 rushing touchdowns on 253 carries. Senior quarterback Ian Langeberg completed 62 percent of his pass attempts and threw for 21 touchdowns. Senior Ty Sullivan caught 30 passes, amassing 588 yards and eight touchdowns. Senior Luke Wanous had a team-high 64 tackles and two interceptions for the Huskies. Owatonna averages 39.1 points per game while holding opponents to 9.0 points per game. Peterson had two rushing touchdowns and senior Carter McCauley kicked two field goals as the Huskies defeated St. Michael-Albertville 27-7 in the semifinals.
Prep Bowl Media Guides
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|MSHSL Fall Bulletin
The League's seasonal magazine has once again been sent to all members schools. We've posted it online as well if you'd like to read about the recent Why We Play Conference, the 2012-2013 Challenge Cup Winners, student participation and many other happenings at the League and around the state as we gear up for Fall Tournaments.
|A Broken Neck, A Season Of Transition And Life Lessons
|Posted by John Millea(email@example.com)- Updated 12/9/2013 2:27:00 PM
|This story has a very happy ending. Well, actually, we won't know how it truly ends until the hockey season ends. But we know how it began. With a broken neck.
Laura Slominski was excited as winter and her sixth season as head coach of the Edina High School girls team neared. The Hornets are one of the state's top programs, with four Class 2A state tournament appearances since 2009 and state runner-up finishes in 2010 and 2011.
Everything changed, however, when Slominski played in a women's fall hockey league game on Sept. 29. She and another player were racing for the puck, they collided, and Slominski flew back-first into the boards. She knows she was lucky. There are plenty of what ifs; for example, what if she had gone in head-first and suffered a spinal injury?
Her spine was OK, but her neck was broken in three places on the C5 vertebrae. She underwent surgery, spent a week in the hospital, has been wearing a neck brace since then and is unable to skate or do any on-ice coaching this season. But again, she knows she was lucky.
"It gives you a new appreciation for people who have gone through similar situations but with much worse results," she said. "The first time being able to get up and walk, it was a whole new level of appreciation for me."
She will return to teaching math at Edina later this week, which will be a big step in getting back to normal. The neck brace should come off for good sometime in January, when the only physical sign of what Slominski has endured will be a great big scar on the back of her neck.
Slominski (pictured here with her players) was injured on a Sunday evening, and one of the first things she thought about in the hospital was finding a substitute teacher for her classes the next day. That was taken care of, but finding a substitute head hockey coach for the upcoming season was another matter. After the job was posted and interviews were held, former Wayzata boys hockey coach Dean Williamson was hired as interim head coach for the season. Slominski holds the interim title of assistant coach.
Williamson coached most of the Hornets varsity players when they were younger, and his daughter Taylor is a junior forward on the team.
"I knew all the kids, I tied most of their skates when they were five years old," Williamson said. "So from that standpoint I was happy to step in, as tough as it was to lose Laura. I'm just glad that she's back on track."
Senior captain Riley Anderson said, "I think it made it easier since Dean coached a lot of us growing up. That made the transition easier, but it is different."
Slominski attends the Hornets games (with the exception of a road trip to Warroad and Roseau in November), watches from behind the glass or the bleachers, consults with Williamson (they are pictured here) and talks to the team in the locker room between periods and afterwards. There's clearly a tight bond between the 33-year-old coach and her players.
"She came to school after her surgery," said senior captain Emily Eide. "All the hockey girls were called down to the athletic office and we didn't know what was happening. Then she walked in and it was a big shock. There were tears instantly."
Slominski said, "There has been so much support from everybody, and you know your family and closest friends will be there for you. The hockey kids are part of my family, too, and we talk about being a family.
"It's a lot easier for me right now because they're in good hands and they're having a good experience. It's hard for both sides to be used to something and have it change so quickly and so close to the start of the season."
The Hornets are off to an outstanding start. They have 10 wins, no losses and one tie and are ranked No. 4 in Class 2A. A big test will come Saturday when they meet top-ranked Minnetonka.
"No matter what's going on, Edina never changes its expectations," Slominski said. "We have expectations that we'll be at the top at the end of the season, and they're playing great hockey right now. Emotionally, I think they're in a very, very good place and they're being well-coached. They're responding very well to what's happening. It's a very strong team, and a lot of it comes down to the chemistry and the character that's there."
Since her injury, Slominski has used a CaringBridge website to keep family and friends updated on her progress. Some of the posts were short updates on her surgery and rehabilitation, but Slominski wrote some longer messages. On Oct. 27, the day before girls hockey practice began around the state, she wrote about the lessons she learned from the coaches she has played for, and offered advice to high school players. Some excerpts ...
--"I was so blessed to have incredible coaches my whole life. Yes, we always wanted to win, but I knew they cared so much about me as a person. It was just as important for them to help me and my teammates to develop as people as it was for us to win games. These life lessons that I was taught and the mental toughness I gained through being an athlete has given me the strength I have needed to be so positive in my journey."
--"Girls, as you go through tryouts, be confident, give all that you have to give so that you can walk away with no regrets, and make the most of every moment this season. We always talk about how you want to give your best because you don't know what is going to happen in life. This is another reminder for me as 4 weeks ago from this very moment, I was getting ready to put the kids to bed and then headed off to my hockey game, just as I have done many times. ... I can't control what happened to me, only how I react to it. I am glad that I have given my all to coaching for the past 5 years at Edina so that when I have to sit this one out it is with no regrets. ... Remember to focus on what you can control, and give your all in everything you do, so that when all is said and done you can walk away with no regrets and you can be proud of all that you and your teammates have accomplished together."
Slominski's doctors have told her to stay off skates for at least six months. That's a long stretch without hockey for someone who grew up with the game. Slominski graduated from Burnsville High School in 1998, where she was her school's Athena Award winner and was named Minnesota's Ms. Hockey. She played hockey and was a team captain at the University of Minnesota, worked as an assistant coach at St. Olaf College, head coach at Bloomington Kennedy, assistant at St. Cloud State and assistant at Minnesota before taking over as Edina's head coach in 2008.
"I was hoping to get back (on the ice) during the second half of the season," she said. "It's kind of like jumping back on the horse. But you never know what can happen in practice; sometimes a player will slide into you and knock you off your feet. It's probably good for me that the doctor said at least six months, because it will force me to be 100 percent fully recovered."
In the meantime, the season will continue and the Hornets will keep playing ... for themselves, their school and their coach.
"It's a great group of kids," Dean Williamson said. "I just want to make it a special year for the seniors and I'm just holding the car keys until Laura's ready to roll. We're excited to have her come to these games and she looks fantastic. Her spirit is a big part of our team this year."
BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 236
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 5,986
(*During the 2013-14 school year)
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