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Nicollet Is New No. 1 Team In Nine-Man Football
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/20/2010 4:12:39 PM

Here are this week's rankings as we enter the final phase of the regular season.

The only change at No. 1 is in Nine-Man, where Nicollet is the new top team. They replace former No. 1 Stephen-Argyle, which lost to Goodridge-Grygla last week. G-G isNo. 2 this week.

CLASS 5A
1 (1) Eden Prairie (7-0)

2 (2) Wayzata (5-0)

3 (5) Blaine (7-0)

4 (4) Rosemount (7-0)

5 (7) Cretin-Derham Hall (6-1)

6 (6) Stillwater Area (6-1)

7 (8) Brainerd (7-0)

8 (3) Mounds View (6-1)

9 (9) Rochester Century (7-0)

10 (10) Shakopee (7-0)

Others receiving votes: None

CLASS 4A

1 (1) St. Thomas Academy (7-0)

2 (2) Mankato West (7-0)

3 (3) Rogers (7-0)

4 (6) South St. Paul (7-0)

5 (5) Totino-Grace (6-1)

6 (9) Becker (6-1)

7 (7) Sartell-St. Stephen (6-1)

7 (8) St. Paul Central (7-0)

9 (4) Mahtomedi (5-2)

10 (10) Bemidji (6-1)

Others receiving votes: Northfield, Delano


CLASS 3A
1 (1) Albany (7-0)

2 (2) Rochester Lourdes (7-0)

3 (7) Dassel-Cokato (6-1)

4 (5) New London-Spicer (6-1)

5 (6) Holy Family Catholic (7-0)

6 (8) DeLaSalle (6-1)

7 (9) Virginia (7-0)

8 (10) Pine City (7-0)

9 (3) Glencoe-Silver Lake (5-2)

10 (4) Norwood-Young America (6-1)

Others receiving votes: Pequot Lakes, St. Anthony, Fairmont

CLASS 2A
1 (1) Waterville-Elysian-Morristown (7-0)

2 (2) Eden Valley-Watkins (7-0)

3 (4) Moose Lake-Willow River (7-0)
4 (5) Caledonia (7-0)

5 (6) Breckenridge (7-0)

6 (7) Triton (7-0)

7 (8) Ottertail Central (7-0)

8 (3) Luverne (6-1)

9 (9) Jackson County Central (6-1)
10 (10) Pierz (6-1)

Others receiving votes: Tracy-Milroy-Balaton, Braham

CLASS 1A
1 (1) Barnesville (7-0)

1 (2) Springfield (7-0)

3 (3) Browerville (7-0)

3 (4) Mahnomen (7-0)

5 (5) Minneota (6-1)

6 (8) Dawson-Boyd (7-1)

7 (6) New Ulm Cathedral (6-1)

8 (T10) East Central (6-1)

8 (T10) Blooming Prairie (5-2)

10 (NR) Cedar Mountain/Comfrey (6-1)

Others receiving votes: Le Center, Red Lake County, Warren-Alvarado-Oslo, Barnum

NINE-MAN
1 (3) Nicollet (7-0)

2 (5) Goodridge-Grygla (8-0)

3 (4) Edgerton/Ellsworth (7-0)

4 (6) McGregor (7-0)

5 (1) Stephen-Argyle (7-1)

6 (7) Wheaton (7-0)

7 (9) Ada-Borup (6-1)

8 (2) Grand Meadow (6-1)

9 (NR) Cook (7-1)

10 (NR) Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley (6-1)

Others receiving votes: Lanesboro, Spring Grove, Isle, Littlefork-Big Falls, Hillcrest Lutheran



A Look At Football’s Week 8 Big Games
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/19/2010 9:50:48 AM

This is the annual odd week for high school football in Minnesota. Since most districts do not have school on Thursday and Friday due to Education Minnesota’s professional conference, games will be played Wednesday as the regular season ends and teams prepare for the postseason.

The regular season always goes by quickly, and that has certainly been the case this fall. Since the opening games on Sept. 2, one of the major themes has been spectacular game-night weather. I have stood on the sidelines in the rain only once, for a Week 2 game between Mankato West and Owatonna. Other than that, the nights have been perfect for football.

Wednesday’s schedule is loaded with games that will impact how teams are seeded for the upcoming section playoffs. Many of the 34 remaining unbeaten teams are facing what appear to be overmatched opponents this week, but a few of them are staring into what could become their first loss of 2010.

There is only one head-to-head meeting between undefeated teams, and that game will receive more coverage than any other in the state this week. It will be the battle of Goliath vs. Goliath when Eden Prairie plays at Wayzata.

Here’s a quick rundown of the most intriguing matchups in each class this week …

Class 5A/Eden Prairie (7-0) at Wayzata (5-0)
This is a battle of the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in this class. They could meet once more in the Prep Bowl, which would surprise very few people. Both Lake Conference teams had major problems in filling their schedules. Eden Prairie played two games in Winnipeg on the same day and Wayzata had two byes, including last week. Will that extra week of rest and preparation (the Wayzata players were able to scout Eden Prairie in person last week) make a difference?

Class 4A/St. Paul Central (7-0) vs. Minneapolis Washburn (5-2)
This is the annual Twin Cities championship game, pitting the top teams from the St. Paul and Minneapolis City Conferences. Central is in tough Section 4 in 4A along with Mahtomedi, while Washburn is jostling with Waseca for the top seed in 3A Section 2. So this game is for double bragging rights.

Class 3A/Holy Family (7-0) vs. Norwood-Young America (6-1)
NYA’s perfect season was halted in a two-point loss to Mayer Lutheran last week but it can’t spoil the Raiders’ turnaround from a 1-7 season in 2009. This game will determine the champion of the Minnesota River Conference and have implications for Holy Family in Section 5 and NYA in 3.

Class 2A/Caledonia (7-0) vs. Southland (6-1)
After edging Plainview-Elgin-Millville in a Week 1 overtime game, Caledonia has not been tested. Southland has rolled past six opponents while falling to Lewiston-Altura 27-15 in Week 4. Both teams are 4-0 in Three Rivers Conference South play. Win or lose, Caledonia is probably the top seed in Section 1, while a win would be a big boost to Southland in Section 2 seeding.

Class 1A/New Ulm Cathedral (6-1) at Cedar Mountain-Comfrey (6-1)
Cathedral has won six in a row after losing to Springfield in Week 1. Cedar Mountain-Comfrey also lost only to Springfield (7-0), coming in Week 3. Those three teams and Le Center (6-1) are fighting for seeding position in the Section 2 playoffs.

Nine-Man/Littlefork-Big Falls (6-1) vs. Mountain Iron-Buhl (5-1)
Littlefork-Big Falls was sailing until losing at McGregor last week. MI-B’s only loss was to Floodwood in Week 4. These two and Cook are jostling for playoff position in Section 7.

There also will be some Nine-Man playoff games on Saturday. One place to keep an eye on is Section 8. The top seed is unbeaten Goodridge-Grygla, which earned that spot by handing defending state champion Stephen-Argyle its first loss on Saturday by a score of 39-14. They are the top two seeds in Section 8.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 68
*Miles John has driven: 3,996



Lakeville North, Jackson, Minneota Top Final Volleyball Polls
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/18/2010 1:23:15 PM

Tournament time is nearing, and here are the final volleyball rankings of the season.

Lakeville North, Jackson County Central and Minneota are the leaders in each class.

CLASS 3A
1. Lakeville North (12) 180
2. Wayzata 168
3. Bloomington Jefferson 152
4. Eastview 144
5. Apple Valley 99
6. Eden Prairie 97
7. Centennial 95
Blaine 95
9. Shakopee 78
10. Lakeville South 75
Others: Waconia (40), East Ridge (36), Stillwater (10), Woodbury (8), Owatonna (7), Chaska (6), Northfield (4), Hill-Murray (3), Chanhassen (2), Rochester Mayo (1)

CLASS 2A
1. Jackson County Central (7) 119
2. Wadena-Deer Creek (1) 109
3. Hutchinson 106
4. Lesuer-Henderson 96
5. Belle Plaine 84
6. Jordan 81
7. Marshall 71
8. Stewartville 62
9. Delano 32
10. Visitation 24
Others: Kasson-Mantorville (20), Byron (18), Rocori (18), Esko (13), Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton (13), Caledonia (2), Sauk Center (1)

CLASS 1A
1. Minneota (7) 147
2. Bethlehem Academy (3) 142
3. Wabasha-Kellogg 131
4. Martin County West 117
5. Mayer Lutheran 99
6. Nevis 96
7. BBE 83
8. Windom 66
9. Win-E-Mac 58
Mabel-Canton 58
Others: Canby (30), Hancock (26), Heritage Academy (9), Ada-Borup (6), Upsala (4)




A Memory-Making Night At South St. Paul
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/16/2010 12:11:17 PM

Friday nights at South St. Paul’s Ettinger Field have always been special. The football stadium is an historical throwback, with bleachers that have been in place since they were built as a Works Progress Administration project in the 1930s and a playing surface nestled down inside a grassy bowl.

Before the South St. Paul Packers met Mahtomedi on Friday, South St. Paul native and highly decorated coach Paul Miller talked about the history of the place. The area was once a farming area known as “Swede Hollow,” said Miller, a former Packers head coach and current assistant who also has coached at Hamline, St. Olaf, Apple Valley, Burnsville and elsewhere.

So we began with history. Add to the mix a game that had major implications on the Classic Suburban Conference race as well as the upcoming Class 4A, Section 3 playoffs, and Friday was a recipe for wonderful memories. Sure enough, anybody who was at Ettinger Field on Friday will never forget it … for several reasons, including a power outage, another perfect night for football, a rock ‘em-sock ‘em back and forth game and the rise of a football program.

That program on the rise is South St. Paul. In the three seasons ending in 2008, the Packers had a combined record of 3-24. They went 7-4 last season, lending credence to the efforts of head coach Chad Sexauer and his staff. Friday’s 28-17 victory over Mahtomedi moved the undefeated Packers up another level, marking them as a team to be reckoned with in the conversation of 4A state championship contenders.

THE PACKERS’ STARS were many. Junior running back Sam Sura had already made headlines while piling up yards this season, and Friday he rushed 39 times for 210 yards, giving him 1,363 yards in seven games. Mahtomedi’s Brenton Braddock, another 1,000-yard rusher, was injured in the first half and did not return, which surely put a dent in the hopes of the Zephyrs, who lost for the second time this year.

Two other South St. Paul juniors also had big nights: Reid Bjorklund intercepted two passes, returning one for a touchdown, and quarterback Harrison Rund ran for two TDs.

Rund, who played tailback a year ago, moved to quarterback when expected returning starter Adam Wilcox – who has committed to play hockey for the University of Minnesota – departed to play junior hockey. Rund adds an extra dimension to Sura’s pounding runs behind a big, mobile offensive line.

“We asked Harrison to step into a difficult situation and he’s handled himself extremely, extremely well,” Sexauer said. “Tonight he came out and made a statement that we’re at least a two-headed monster.”

THE GAME STARTED 45 minutes late due to a power outage in the area around the school. And that delay only added to the memories. The South St. Paul pep band was in fabulous form, entertaining the big crowd throughout the delay. The school mascot -- a kid in a big red smiling steer costume -- is one of the best in Minnesota, and the steer added to the festive atmosphere even as darkness enveloped everything and everybody.

The only big downside to the power outage was that pregame Senior Night activities were cancelled and the seniors and their parents were not able to be introduced.

The teams waited inside the school, which might have been a positive for the Packers.

“It actually may have been kind of a good thing for us, to let us cool our nerves a little bit,” Sexauer said. “We were out in pregame, we were a little excited and a little animated. I think it gave us some time to relax and put us back into a regular focus.”

Mahtomedi led 17-6 at halftime behind two TD runs by Andrew Lindquist and a 31-yard field goal by Colin Johnson as the half ended. But all the scoring in the second half was by the Packers, with Rund getting two TDs and Jacob Schwantes scoring one.

After the game ended and the teams shook hands, the Packers gathered in front of those ancient bleachers – filled with the faithful – and everyone sang the school song in raucous celebration.

“This senior class, they were 0-9 as sophomores,” said Sexauer (pictured at right). “We’ve asked the world of them and they’ve kept producing. There’s a nice junior class that’s behind them and pushing, and the whole school is falling in with where these kids are. It’s nice community support, lots of enthusiasm.

“This is a game where we said if we want to be compared as a program to Mahtomedi and St. Thomas Academy and all those great schools, these are the types of games you’ve got to come out and play.”

They played, they won and anyone who was there will never forget it.

TO SEE A PHOTO gallery and video of the postgame celebration, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 64
*Miles John has driven: 3,968

--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



Coming Up: A Report On South St. Paul-Mahtomedi Football
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/16/2010 12:29:05 AM

The hour is late and the John’s Journal staff has voted to get some sleep after a long Friday capped off by a highly entertaining football game between Mahtomedi and South St. Paul. The unbeaten Packers rallied for a 28-17 victory in a game that began late due to a power outage but yet was filled with electric moments.

Check out the MSHSL Facebook page for lots of photos from the game and video of the Packers celebrating with their fans by singing the school song.

After some shut-eye has been achieved, a detailed account of the game will be produced by the J.J. staff and posted right here.



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