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Soccer Champs: Eastview, Wayzata, Benilde, Rochester Lourdes
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/30/2012 5:16:52 PM

Thursday’s Soccer Games at the Metrodome…

2A girls third-place game: Lakeville North 6, Blaine 2
1A girls championship: Benilde-St. Margaret’s 3, Blake 2 (overtime)
1A boys championship: Rochester Lourdes 2, St. Paul Academy and Summit School 1 (4-3 shootout)
2A girls championship: Wayzata 2, White Bear Lake 0
2A boys championship: Eastview 3, Blaine 2

--2A boys: Eastview 3, Blaine 2
The No. 3-seeded Lightning of Eastview (15-2-5) won their first state title in their second consecutive and overall appearance with a 3-2 victory over the unseeded Bengals of Blaine (16-4-1), who had advanced to the title tilt with a quarterfinal victory over top-seeded Champlin Park and semifinal win over fifth-seeded Bloomington Jefferson. The score was 2-1 in favor of Eastview with just less than 20 minutes to play in the first half. And the score remained that way for nearly 40 more minutes. The game-winner was scored by senior midfielder Jacob Opheim on a pass from junior midfielder Pierce Erickson at 63:44. About three minutes earlier Blaine had evened the score when a blocked shot by Zach Brunko fell right to the feet of senior midfielder Zachary Wright, who put it in. Senior defender Michael Stockton opened the scoring for Eastview by heading in a pass from junior defender Sam Fluegge just two minutes and 12 seconds into the game. Exactly four minutes later, Blaine senior midfielder Ian Durbin rattled a shot off the post that senior forward Mitch Boege scored on the rebound. At 19:59 Eastview went back on top when Opheim headed a ball into an empty net on a long ball into the box from Fluegge.

--2A girls: Wayzata 2, White Bear Lake 0:
In their fifth consecutive appearance, the Trojans of Wayzata (17-2-2) succeeded in defending their title, which is their sixth overall in 24 appearances. Wayzata, seeded No. 2, defeated White Bear Lake Area, the fourth seed, 2-0. The Bears were making their sixth tournament appearance. Wayzata led White Bear Lake Area 5-1 in both shots on goal and corner kicks. Senior defender Katie Schulz launched a long ball down field that left senior midfielder Kylie Schwarz one-on-one with Bears senior goalkeeper Tarah Hobbs and Schwarz won the confrontation at 38:27. Late in the second half, at 78:48, ninth-grade forward Ruby Stauber headed in a crisp crossing pass from senior midfielder Olivia Musser. Senior goalkeeper Mara Dougherty earned the win and made just one save.

--1A boys: Rochester Lourdes 2, St. Paul Academy 1 (4-3 shootout)
The Eagles of Rochester Lourdes (22-1-0) earned their third state title with a 2-1 shootout victory over the Spartans of St. Paul Academy and Summit School (19-1-2). The Eagles, seeded No. 3, finished third in 2011 and were making their third consecutive and 11th overall appearance. This championship trophy will be proudly displayed next to those the Eagles won in 1998 and 1999. The Spartans, who were fourth in 2011 and also were making their third consecutive appearance, scored first, late in the first half, when senior forward Lorenzo Pavoloni received a free kick from senior forward Cameron Causey and drove it into the net. Sophomore midfielder Issac Forsgren was awarded a second assist. Slightly more than a minute later the Eagles knotted the score when senior forward Gabe Salerno dribbled around the keeper and scored after receiving a pass from senior midfielder Alan Schembri-Wismayer. There was no more scoring, either through regulation or two 10-minute overtime periods. Both teams had five players shoot penalty kicks in the shootout. Senior Rochester Lourdes goalkeeper Will Elder made saves on the Spartans’ second and fifth attempts. After the first Eagles attempt was denied, the following four players succeeded to finish the shootout with a 4-3 advantage.

--1A girls: Benilde-St. Margaret's 3, Blake 2 (OT)
Could The Blake School (17-3-2) repeat? Could Benilde-St. Margaret’s (21-0-1) triumph to win its first state title? The Knights of Benilde-St. Margaret’s had earned the top seed and the Bears of The Blake School were seeded second. The match was their second meeting this season. The first ended in a scoreless tie on Aug. 28. The match didn’t disappoint as both teams played tight defense and sent the game into overtime before senior forward Dana Buckhorn scored on a deflected direct free kick 8 minutes and 54 seconds into the extra period, giving the Knights their first state championship. The first half ended in a 1-1 draw. The Bears tallied first at 10:51. Senior forward Hannah Randolph launched a long shot that caromed off the cross bar but right to the foot of junior midfielder Lydia Sutton who tapped it in easily. Roughly 15 minutes later Knights junior midfielder Kelly Pannek was in the right position to punch in a deflection off a defender to even the score. Pannek scored again early in the second half and the Knights protected that lead until Bears ninth-grader Maggie Warner, a defender, took a shot from outside the penalty box into the top corner to tie the game at 2-2. Buckhorn’s game-winner was credited to her even though the last player to touch it was a defender. Because that defender was not trying to clear the ball or pass it to a teammate, the momentum of the shot that carried the ball into the goal came from Buckhorn.

Wells Fargo All-Tournament Teams
--2A boys: Carter McCauley, Owatonna; Esteban Arias, Champlin Park; Noah McGurran, Minneapolis South; Carl Walker, Moorhead; Christopher Kirihara, Timothy Larson, Bloomington Jefferson; Jared Allen, Roma Devine, Stillwater; Jason Scheeler, Ian Durbin, Colton Nelson, Mitch Boege, Blaine; Sam Fluegge, Jonathan Lenz, Pierce Erickson, Jacob Opheim, Eastview.

--2A girls: Kendal Jacobus, Eden Prairie; Paige Wilberding, Eastview; Jenna Roering, Centennial; Maddie Barr, St. Michael Albertville; Ashley Pafko, Britney Monteon, Blaine; Hahhah Cade, Simone Kolander, Lauren Brownrigg, Lakeville North; Tarah Hobbs, Rachel DeGardner, Anna Morrison, White Bear Lake; Summer Johnson, Katie Schulz, Kylie Schwarz, Kiana Nickel, Wayzata.

--1A girls: Laurel Ramer, Kasson-Mantorville; Maria Siebels, St. Peter; Emily Rikkola, Cloquet; Sarah Bruzek, Alexandria; Annmarie Umland, Grave Pouliot, Totino-Grace; Alicia Sethre, Anna Barlow, Tori Poole, South St. Paul; Ali Leslie, Natalie Sill, Lydia Sutton, Blake; Maria Michels, Dana Buckhorn, Kelly Pannek, Anne Arnason, Benilde-St. Margaret’s.

--1A boys: Albert Podshivaylov, Mankato East; Abdurazak Omar, St. Paul Como Park; Brandon Gonzalez, Waconia; Joshua Robak, Myles Hagen, Hayden Speaks, St. Cloud Cathedral; Joe Fairbanks, Thomas Welinski, Duluth Marshall; Ben Braman, Lorenzo Pavolini, Josh Gray, Isaac Forgren, St. Paul Academy and Summit School; Jack Convery, Alan Schembri-Wismayer, Gabe Salerno, Karl Krecke, Rochester Lourdes.

--Photo galleries from all four championship games can be seen on the MSHSL Facebook page.

On The Air, On The Web: The Horn Of White Bear Lake
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/30/2012 2:24:14 PM

The broadcaster set the scene before the Class 2A girls soccer state semifinals on Tuesday: “We are ready to go here at the Metrodome, the Bears in their black jerseys and Lakeville North in white.”

The broadcaster was Zach Halverson and his analyst was Chad Olson. They were sitting in the booth that is normally home to the Vikings Radio Network. They are professional broadcasters … and seniors at White Bear Lake High School.

Halverson and Olson are not wannabes; they call many White Bear Lake sporting events via their website The Horn, found at http://www.thehornwbl.com. (The Horn is short for the Halverson Olson Radio Network.) They did test broadcasts during the lacrosse season last spring, went full-tilt with football games this fall and will continue throughout the fall, winter and spring seasons.

During home football games their broadcast position was in front of the Bears student section. Their perch in the upper reaches of the Metrodome on Tuesday – where White Bear Lake defeated Lakeville North 1-0 in overtime -- was much different, as well as much quieter, but the job was the same.

“The Panthers are pressing very, very hard now after it looked like the Bears had some momentum,” Halvorson said during the first half. “We are still scoreless here as we reach the halfway point of the first half.”

To an unknowing listener Halvorson sounds like a seasoned pro. He has wanted to be a sports broadcaster since he was little, and now he is. He and Olson also do a regular podcast called “The CHalvey Show” (that’s a combination of Chad and Halverson).

The Horn is not technically affiliated with White Bear Lake High School, although administrators and staff have given some assistance. Advertisers have signed on to the website, where this message to potential advertisers is posted:

“For just $100, your business will receive a guaranteed 60-seconds of commercial airtime on EVERY broadcast we do through June of 2013. Your time can be split into (1) 60-second commercial, (2) 30-second commercials, or (4) 15-second commercials. You will also have your logo and contact information on our sponsor page, and it will be included in our sidebar rotation.”

The on-air talent stays connected to listeners via Twitter and Facebook, and Halvorson and Olson enjoy responding on the air:

--“Shout out to Dylan’s basement.”

--“Mr. Pittman’s fourth-hour class is listening, so shout out to them,” Halvorson said. “That is kind of cool, to have people back in the school listening to us.”

--He also mentioned “Mr. Sorensen’s fifth-hour media and film class.” To which Olson replied, “Hey, that’s MY class.”

*Schools/teams John has visited: 240
*Miles John has driven: 3,735
(*During the 2012-13 school year)

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter @MSHSLjohn

Here's The Soccer Lineup At The Metrodome
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/29/2012 11:10:49 PM

Tuesday’s Soccer Schedule at the Metrodome…

Duluth Marshall defeated St. Cloud Cathedral 2-1 in 1A boys third-place game
South St. Paul defeated Totino-Grace 2-1 in 1A girls third-place game
White Bear Lake defeated Lakeville North 1-0 in overtime in 2A girls semifinal
Wayzata defeated Blaine 4-1 in 2A girls semifinal
4 p.m./ Bloomington Jefferson vs. Stillwater in 2A boys third-place game

Thursday’s Soccer Schedule at the Metrodome…

8 a.m./ Lakeville North vs. Wayzata or Blaine in 2A girls third-place game
10 a.m./ Benilde-St. Margaret’s vs. Blake in 1A girls championship game
12:30 p.m./ St. Paul Academy and Summit School vs. Rochester Lourdes in 1A boys championship game
3 p.m./ White Bear Lake vs. Wayzata or Blaine in 2A girls championship game
5:30 p.m./ Blaine vs. Eastview in 2A boys championship game

Updates From State Soccer Semifinals...
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/29/2012 10:41:49 AM

--Class 2A boys: Eastview 3, Stillwater 1

The No. 3-seeded Lightning of Eastview defeated the No. 2-seeded Ponies of Stillwater Area 3-1. Eastview (14-2-5) led 2-0 at the half and sophomore goalkeeper Kyle Lamott made just three saves in the half and for the match. Senior midfielder Jacob Opheim opened the scoring at 25:20 after taking a long throw-in from junior defender Sam Fluegge and heading it past Stillwater Area goalkeeper Ben Wilhelm. Junior forward Pierce Erickson was credited with the second goal, unassisted, with his shot from just inside the penalty box at 38:53. Erickson scored his second goal of the game at 46:55, another header from a long cross from senior defender Jonathan Lenz. Stillwater Area (15-2-4) avoided the shutout when senior midfielder Roma Devine drilled a penalty kick following a foul in the box. The Lightning, in just their second consecutive and overall appearance, will play in the title tilt for the second straight year and try to improve on their 2011 runner-up finish to Eden Prairie, but this year against Blaine.

--Class 2A boys: Blaine 3, Bloomington Jefferson 1

The unseeded Blaine Bengals earned a trip to the state championship game with a 3-1 victory over the No. 5-seeded Jaguars of Bloomington Jefferson (16-4-1). Senior forward Nicholas Mhiripiri opened the scoring for the Jaguars at 14:43 of the first half scoring on a penalty kick. Just over a minute later, senior Colton Nelson of Blaine tied the score with a penalty kick of his own. Blaine (16-3-1) scored with just 21 seconds to play in the first half on a cross from junior Jeremiah Strand to senior Mitch Boege for the game-winning goal. Sophomore T.J. Soehn added an insurance goal for the Bengals, who advance to their first state championship game in boys’ soccer.

--Class 1A boys: Rochester Lourdes 5, Duluth Marshall 0

The Eagles of Rochester Lourdes (21-1-0) took an early lead and methodically kept adding goals until time expired and they had defeated the Hilltoppers of Marshall School, Duluth, 5-0. The Eagles were seeded No. 3. Marshall School (11-6-4) was unseeded. Senior midfielder Alan Schembri-Wismayer opened the scoring with an unassisted goal at 4:18 and he added another unassisted goal at 15:17. Junior midfielder Johnny Lawson completed Rochester Lourdes’ first-half scoring with his shot that came off a crossing pass from senior forward Gabe Salerno. Salerno scored the fourth goal 14 seconds into the second half and at 62:15 senior forward Tim Wente scored the final goal. Senior forward Jack Convery assisted on both of the last two goals. Senior goalkeeper Will Elder earned the win and made three saves.

--Class 1A boys: St. Paul Academy and Summit School 2, St. Cloud Cathedral 1

In a closely played match that wasn’t decided until the 71st minute, the top-seeded Spartans of St. Paul Academy and Summit School (19-0-2) advanced to the championship game with a 2-1 win over the No. 5-seeded Crusaders of St. Cloud Cathedral (18-1-2). Senior defender James Hargens opened the scoring at 33:16, putting the Spartans up 1-0 with an elusive advance toward the net, evading two defenders before making his shot. Sophomore forward Tyler Seplak got an assist. The Crusaders tied the match at 63:01 when senior midfielder Myles Hagen took a drop pass from the corner by senior forward Patrick Krebsbach and shot it for the goal. Senior forward Peter Wood scored the game-winner at 70:23 after receiving the pass from senior midfielder Josh Gray who had dribbled his way up the field. Senior goalkeeper Ben Braman earned the win and made three saves.

--Class 1A girls: Blake 2, Totino-Grace 0

The defending champion and No. 2-seeded Bears of The Blake School (17-2-2) established a comfortable 2-0 lead at the half and went on to defeat the Eagles of Totino-Grace (16-3-2) 2-0 to advance to the title match once again against Benilde-St. Margaret’s. Last year the Bears defeated the Knights 1-0 for the title and this year the two teams played to a scoreless tie on Aug. 28. Junior midfielder Lydia Sutton opened the scoring at 16:23, assisted by sophomore midfielder Maddy Moe. Sutton assisted on the second goal at 27:53 with her corner kick that deflected off a defender to the foot of senior forward Natalie Sill, who scored. Senior goalkeeper Maddy Crawford earned the shutout and had to make just a single save. The Bears dominated in all statistical categories—14-2 in shots, 7-1 in corner kicks, and even 6-4 in fouls.

--Class 1A girls: Benilde-St. Margaret's 3, South St. Paul 2 (OT)

A foul by sophomore Anna Barlow just outside the box in overtime led to a direct free kick that senior forward Dana Buckhorn shot high into the left side of the net to seal the victory for top-seeded Benilde-St. Margaret’s (20-0-1). The Knights advance to the championship game for the second consecutive year, having finished second in 2011 to The Blake School. The South St. Paul Packers (14-5-2) scored first at 27:12 on a through ball from sophomore forward Anna Barlow that junior forward Tori Poole drilled low into the corner from inside the box. Ninth-grade midfielder Aleksa Tataryn took a pass from senior midfielder Haley Jerabek and scored with a shot from the six-yard line to even the score for the Knights at 21:41. The Knights’ 2-1 halftime lead was established at 35:54 when senior forward Maria Michels took advantage of a rebound off a shot from Jerabek and scored. Junior midfielder Kelly Pannek preceded Jerabek’s shot by bringing the ball swiftly up the left side to feed Jerabek. Poole scored an unassisted goal at 55:32 to even the score and ultimately send the game into extra time. Michels drilled a shot off the left post with 55 seconds left in regulation that would have ended the game in regulation if not for a few inches.

--Summaries by Howard Voigt

A Full Day Of State Soccer Semifinals At The Metrodome
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/28/2012 7:55:37 PM

The Metrodome is Soccer Central on Monday as the girls and boys state semifinals are played. The games start early in the day and continue into the evening. Here is Monday’s schedule…

8 a.m./ Benilde-St. Margaret’s vs. South St. Paul in Class 1A girls
10 a.m./ Blake vs.Totino-Grace in 1A girls
Noon/ St. Paul Academy and Summit School vs. St. Cloud Cathedral in Class 1A boys
2 p.m./ Duluth Marshall vs. Rochester Lourdes in 1A boys
4 p.m./ Blaine vs. Bloomington Jefferson in Class 2A boys
6 p.m./ Stillwater vs. Eastview in 2A boys.

The semifinals will be completed Tuesday with these games…

Noon/ Lakeville North vs. White Bear Lake in Class 2A girls
2 p.m./ Wayzata vs. Blaine in 2A girls

Third-place games will be played Tuesday at the Dome in Class 2A boys, 1A boys and 1A girls. The 2A girls third-place game will be played Thursday, along with all four state championship games.

The Surprising Edina Hornets Have Some Sting
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/27/2012 4:24:58 PM

Edina’s emergence as a Class 6A power has been one of the surprise stories of the football season. The Hornets closed the regular season with road wins at Hopkins, Wayzata and Eden Prairie and claimed the Lake Conference title. They opened the Class 6A playoffs with a victory over Armstrong on Friday. Read Brian Jerzak's story about the Hornets by clicking here

A Steady Rise To The Top For St. Paul Academy’s Das
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/26/2012 4:30:32 PM

Sonya Das has steadily, one medal at a time, played her way to the top of Class 1A girls tennis in Minnesota. The junior from St. Paul Academy and Summit School finished third in the singles tournament as a ninth-grader, took home a second-place medal a year ago and finally captured the ultimate prize on Friday at Reed-Sweatt Family Tennis Center in Minneapolis.

Her 6-0, 6-3 victory over Breck junior Patricia Zhao was the capstone on her climb to the top, and her smile said everything afterwards.

“It feels great,” Sonya said. “Freshman year for third, last year second, it feels really great to finally get it.”

Das did not lose a set in four matches at the state tournament. The championship matchup with Zhao followed the tournament seeds; Zhao came in as the No. 1 seed and Das was No. 2. Zhao defeated Das in the Section 4 title match, but Sonya had won their two meetings during the regular season. Das and Zhao are friends who train at Lifetime Fitness in Fridley.

“Patty beat me in sections so (the seeding) was understandable,” Das said. “We didn’t know who was going to win.”

The tone was set quickly Friday, with Das rolling to the first-set victory. Zhao made her work hard in the second set but couldn’t counter enough to win the set.

“They play in the offseason together, they train together, they have a really good friendship,” said SPA coach Lauren Oien. “They definitely know each other’s games.

“The best thing that could happen was that she and Patty played in the finals, because she knew Patty’s game and she knew exactly what she needed to do to win.”

Adding to the big day for St. Paul Academy and Summit School was a doubles state title for seniors Sarah Hays and Gina Nguyen. They defeated the Blake senior duo of Abby Rickeman and Maddy Hall 6-4, 6-0 to take the gold.

After the matches ended, Das, Hays, Nguyen and their coach hugged, smiled and posed as parents’ cameras clicked. Das said her prior state experience made her more comfortable Friday.

“Definitely last year was different, playing in front of such a big audience,” she said. “I’m a little bit more used to it this year, so I was prepared for it.”

Oien said Das’ state title was no surprise. “Her progression, as she matured, she knew exactly what she needed to work on. And she focused on those and she succeeded far beyond anyone’s expectations.

“She’s just a warrior and a fighter. It kind of developed throughout the years. I had her as a little seventh-grader and we’ve tried to pull out that warrior and now there she is.”

--In Class 2A, Rochester Century sisters Katie and Jessie Aney won the doubles crown with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over sisters Morgan and Mackenzi Marinovich of Edina. The singles champion was junior Summer Brills of Mounds View, who defeated Edina seventh-grader Sophia Reddy 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-1.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 224
*Miles John has driven: 3,691
(*During the 2012-13 school year)

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter @MSHSLjohn

A Day For Sisters At Girls State Tennis Tournament
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/25/2012 5:07:56 PM

The Class 2A doubles bracket at the girls state tennis tournament has a very definite theme: Sisters. One-quarter of the 16 doubles teams are sisters, with three of those pairs positioned at the bottom end of the bracket.

The biggest story among all the sisters are the Aneys from Rochester Century. That’s because ninth-grader Jessica Aney, the defending state single champion, chose to play doubles this year with her sister Katherine, a junior. They are known simply as Jessie and Katie, and they defeated two other sister teams Thursday to advance to Friday’s semifinals.

The Aneys opened with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Laura and Cassy Finn of Delano, then defeated Taylor and Chase Shortly of Forest Lake. Both Aney sisters played singles Tuesday and Wednesday in the team competition, so they had to make a hasty switch to doubles.

“The first match was a little rough but I thought we played pretty well,” Katie said after Thursday’s quarterfinals. In Friday’s semifinals they will meet Meghan Herring and Kelly Reger of Edina. The other semifinal will be between sisters Morgan and Mackenzi Marinovich of Edina and the Centennial team of Kelly Jachymowski and Courtney Klair.

The Aneys (Jessie is pictured at right) have captured the spotlight based on two main factors: Jessie’s decision to skip a chance at a repeat singles title and the joy that they show on the court. The sisters smile frequently and share an abundance of high fives.

“Fun. That’s what it’s all about,” said Katie. “Jessie’s always been a singles player and I’m a doubles player. She won state last year in singles, so she thought it would be cool to try to do doubles. And we’re sisters, and best friends, too.”

Century coach Josh Heiden said the decision to play singles or doubles was Jessie’s.

“I think Jessie was a little nervous about it, thinking what other people would think,” Heiden said. “I think she sometimes thinks about that too much; ‘People come to the state tournament and I feel like they want to watch me play singles, and I’m letting them down.’ I told her, ‘You cannot think about that. If you want to play doubles, play doubles. If they were going to come and watch you, they’re going to watch you play doubles or singles.’ ”

A year ago, Jessie was an eighth-grader who blazed through the 2A singles tournament without losing a set in four matches. She was a prohibitive favorite to win another singles title this year, until she made the decision to play doubles with her big sister. Katie, who had never played at state other than the team tournament, laughed about how easy it was to agree to play doubles with Jessie.

“I said something like, ‘If you reallllly want to, I guess I could squeeze it into my schedule,’ ” Katie said with a big smile.

The Aneys also skate on the same line for the Century girls hockey team. “We’re together all the time,” Katie said.

Jessie said, “We’d been thinking about it for a long time and we thought it would be really fun. I love playing singles, too, so it was a really hard decision. But I love playing with my sister and we have a lot of fun together and work well together.”

--Singles and double state champions will be crowned Friday in 2A at the University of Minnesota Baseline Tennis Center and in Class 1A at Reed-Sweatt Family Tennis Center in south Minneapolis.

--To see photos from the girls state tennis tournament, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 224
*Miles John has driven: 3,653
(*During the 2012-13 school year)

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter @MSHSLjohn

Remembering Ron Sellnow: Hopkins AD, Teacher, Coach And Great Person
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/24/2012 4:20:46 PM

This message was sent via Twitter this afternoon by the athletic department at Hopkins High School...

"Very Sad News: Former Hopkins AD, teacher, coach and all-around great person, Ron Sellnow, passed away this afternoon."

Ron, who was diagnosed with Lymphona in 2011, was well-known in Minnesota high school activity circles and was active as a supporter of MSHSL events. He will be greatly missed.

For Columbia Heights Football, The Future Is Bright
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/24/2012 10:05:32 AM

The Columbia Heights football team came oh so close on Tuesday. So close to taking one more big step up, so close to putting more distance between what was and what is. The Hylanders lost to Minnehaha Academy 29-16 in the first round of the Class 3A Section 4 playoffs, and it hurt.

But it won’t take long for the players to realize what they accomplished this season: They won. For a program that had won a grand total of two regular-season games in the previous four seasons, finishing 2012 with a 4-5 record was a strong statement by a team that is on its way back.

“We won four games and that’s a huge step for our program,” coach Matt Townsend said after the loss at Minnehaha Academy. “We were down a little bit the last few years, struggling and trying to figure things out.”

Victory No. 5 was within the Hylanders’ grasp before slipping away in the final five minutes. Columbia Heights surrendered the first touchdown but came back to lead 16-7 on a touchdown pass from David Dixon to Deondre Sanstad and a scoring run by Dixon. Those touchdowns countered scoring passes by Minnehaha quarterback Erik Madryga to Dane Birkeland and Jonathan Webb.

The 30-yard TD pass to Webb made it Hylanders 16, Redhawks 14 with 5:27 to go in the fourth quarter. Minnehaha recovered an onside kick and took the lead on a 4-yard touchdown run by Alec Chamberlain. After Columbia Heights couldn’t gain a first down, the Redhawks set the outcome in stone on another short TD run by Chamberlain with four seconds to play.

Finishing 4-5 was a much different outcome than in prior seasons. Since 2006 the Hylanders’ best finish was 3-6 in 2007. They were 2-8 in 2009 (with one postseason win), 1-8 in 2010 and didn’t win a game in 2008 or 2011.

For the 12 seniors on the current Hylanders roster, Tuesday’s game was the end of the football road. But for all those underclassmen? Thoughts are already turning to next season.

“I think we took a big step this year,” Townsend said. “We return a lot of underclassmen, which I just told them. We thank our seniors, and hopefully we’ll take this game and build on it and think about it.”

Dixon and workhorse running back Daireus Mock are sophomores, and both of those youngsters have bright futures. The Hylanders played an independent schedule this season after leaving the North Suburban Conference, and their first victory came in Week 1, 52-24 over St. Paul Humboldt. That was a wonderful start to the turnaround.

“It was huge,” Townsend said. “It was good for our community, it was good for our fans, it was good for our kids and our staff. This year you had a little bit of hop in the hallways again with football doing some things, so there’s a little bit more of a buzz.”

Then came victories over St. James, St. Paul Como Park and Minneapolis Edison, with losses to St. Paul Harding, Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin, Maple River and St. Peter.

“I think we’ve got a lot of hope,” said Columbia Heights activities director Mark Corless. “A lot of these kids are young. They know already pretty much what our schedule will be next year, and they’re certainly teams we can be competitive with if we get better. It’s not like these are walk-over games, but they will dress about the same number of kids we dress. That’s what’s good. They have hope in every game, which is huge.”

The 2013 season will be here in a hurry, and Townsend told his young players to learn from Tuesday’s mistakes.

“We have some young kids who need to look at this game and how close they were, the mental mistakes they had. Hopefully now they learn and when they get into a situation again, they finish it.”

--To see photos from the Columbia Heights-Minnehaha Academy game, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 208
*Miles John has driven: 3,589
(*During the 2012-13 school year)

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter @MSHSLjohn

Duluth Central Boys Basketball Reunion This Weekend
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/23/2012 12:30:01 PM

The Duluth Central Boys Basketball Reunion on Saturday promises to be an event to remember. Central, which merged with Duluth Denfeld in 2010, sent 15 boys basketball teams to state tournaments between 1918 and 2007. Central won state championships in 1950, 1961, 1971 and 1979, with runner-up finishes in 1918, 1969, 1977, and 1986.

Here are the reunion details:

6:30 p.m. Friday -- Casual get-together for former teammates at Grandma's Sports Garden in historic Canal Park.

Noon-1 p.m., Saturday -- Tours of an historical classroom and the bell tower at Old Central High School.

1 p.m. Saturday -- Alumni basketball game at Old Central High School. Warm-ups begin at noon. The high-tempo event includes a three-point shooting contest and a possible slam-dunk contest, with prizes awarded to the winners.

7 p.m. Saturday -- Post-game reception at Grandma's Sports Garden, featuring comments from legendary coach Jim Hastings and other former coaches. Appetizers served.

"This all started out as just a few local guys getting together to watch the '79 championship game," said event organizer Peter Cieluch. "One day at the YMCA I mentioned to Don (Ness) what we were planning on doing. His suggestion was to maybe hold an alumni game, as that could be a lot of fun. Well, we took that original idea added a few other simple events.

"Growing up on the Central Hillside many of my childhood friends were parts of the many great teams Central produced during that era. Seeing the program simply vanish was very hard for many of us to see. The last scheduled home game versus East had to be moved also.

"This event is meant to be both a reunion of sorts for all those that were part of the program. But more then that, it's a celebration of a program that spanned many decades and brought numerous championships to our town. And with the current classifications of both of the remaining schools, we may never see the success Duluth Central basketball was able to achieve again."

Caption Contest … Thanks To Sid Hartman (And Our Friends On Twitter)
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/22/2012 2:35:10 PM

While I was at a football game between Wayzata and Eden Prairie last week at Eden Prairie, I ran into a former co-worker. Legendary Star Tribune sports columnist and WCCO-AM radio personality Sid Hartman was on hand, watching the game from one corner of the field.

I worked at the Star Tribune for nearly 20 years before joining the MSHSL in 2010. One of my jobs in the early days there was editing Sid’s column, which was always a real treat.

During the game Wednesday night, Sid told me was having a hard time deciding who to cheer for. Eden Prairie coach Mike Grant is one of Sid’s close personal friends, but Sid’s grandson Hunter Hartman is a senior offensive lineman for Wayzata. (Wayzata won the game 16-0.)

I posted this photo of myself and Sid on Twitter, asking my followers to reply with their favorite caption. As you can imagine, people had a lot of fun with this. Here are the results, working through the Honorable Mentions to Grand Champion…


--Minnesota Twins

--Who’s older?

--“Do they serve Silver Butter Knife Steaks here?”

--Close personal friends

--“I’d rather be in Omaha.”

-- Grandpa and Grandson Sports

-- Senior (Citizens) Night across the MSHSL

--Father/Son night

--Didn't realize Chad was so much taller than Sid

--Before and after ... Best of the best Maury Makeovers!!

--Two members of MSHSL Student Media program show off their incredibly lifelike Halloween costumes

*Schools/teams John has visited: 205
*Miles John has driven: 3,546
(*During the 2012-13 school year)

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter @MSHSLjohn

Hangin’ Out In The Pit At South St. Paul
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/18/2012 11:38:59 PM

South St. Paul's Ettinger Field is one of the historic treasures of Minnesota high school football. The Packers hosted St. Thomas Academy on Wednesday at the famous field that's known as The Pit. Click here to read Brian Jerzak's story about the site and the game.

The Surroundings Can Differ, But Football Is Football
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/18/2012 12:27:39 PM

During the football regular season that has now come to an end, I had the great pleasure of seeing games in a wide variety of settings. I watched 11 games during the eight-week regular season, from Underwood to Rochester to Stillwater to Buffalo and elsewhere.

My Week 8 game plan was watching two games in two settings that could not have been more different. On Tuesday I went to a game that began at 4 p.m. on a youth football field in the Elk River countryside. A day later I was at Eden Prairie High School, where the games are the closest thing to college football that the Minnesota high school version can produce.

The only common denominator was what happened between the white lines: Eleven players on each side of the ball, five officials, one football. The differences, on the other hand, were most striking when the teams stood for the national anthem. In Elk River, one team had 17 players in uniform and the other had 19. In Eden Prairie, one had 91 and the other had 117.


At the Elk River Youth Athletic Complex, the team from Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf (MSAD) in Faribault played Spectrum, a small school in Elk River. MSAD, which was founded in 1863, has only 46 students in grades 9-12. Spectrum, founded in 2006, has 222 students and is fielding a football team for the first time this season.

The grass field and small gravel parking lot was surrounded by cornfields, marshes and forests, with a Cargill facility next door. There were no bleachers for spectators and no benches on the sidelines for either team.

People brought lawn chairs and blankets and some brought their dogs. Small children giggled as they rolled down a small embankment from where the fans watched the action. A couple of trains rumbled by in the distance.

On the Spectrum sideline came the usual sounds of football: “Stay low!” “Hit ‘em!” “Big play! Big play!” Across the field, the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf coaches and players were silent other than an occasional high-pitched celebratory yelp. Sign language is the language of football for the Trojans, with coaches frantically signing to each other and to the players; timeouts seem absolutely peaceful and non-frantic compared to most teams.

This was an 11-man football game, although MSAD plays mostly nine-man games as well as eight-man when traveling to meet opponents in other states that have eight-man football. That’s three different playbooks to memorize. This game was MSAD’s only 11-man contest of the season, and they had one day of practice using 11 players.

Following the score and game time may have required some squinting for the older eyes sitting on the hill. The scoreboard was a small portable model, plugged into an electrical outlet and positioned off one corner of the field. The scoreboard operator sat next to the board in a lawn chair. The public-address announcer sat at a folding table behind the visitor’s sideline, with his voice being carried across the facility via two portable speakers on either side of him.

A person with a video camera was easy to spot because he filmed from the top of a large stepladder on the hill.

Spectrum came away with a 22-20 victory, giving them a 3-5 record going into the Class 2A Section 4 playoffs. The loss was the first of the season for MSAD, which had defeated schools for the deaf in Kansas, Wisconsin, Iowa and Missouri as well as Minnesota schools West Lutheran and E.C.H.O. Charter.


Eden Prairie’s enrollment is 3,007. Wayzata has 3,060 students. Those numbers start the conversation about the differences between miniscule schools and those of the mammoth variety.

This game between Wayzata and Eden Prairie was a rarity: the winner would claim second place in the Lake Conference. It’s not rare for the Trojans and Eagles to decide the league championship … if not the state championship. But the surprising Edina Hornets had defeated both in the previous two weeks and the Hornets captured the conference title as well as the top seed in the Class 6A Section 6 playoffs.

Wayzata earned the No. 2 seed with a 16-0 victory over the Eagles in a setting that provided all the sights and sounds that large-school football is famous for. The pregame pageantry included the Eden Prairie marching band circling the field on the running track, and a performance by a combined group of 60-some cheerleaders, pom squad and dance team members.

One of the most stark differences from the MSAD-Spectrum game came when the players from Wayzata and Eden Prairie lined up for the anthem. Each team had enough players to stretch nearly from end zone to end zone: 208 boys in all. The total from the game in Elk River? Thirty-six.

Eden Prairie plays on artificial turf, which has become common at big schools. There are enough bleacher seats for thousands of people, and most of them were filled for Wednesday’s game. The Wayzata students came wearing bright orange, while the Eden Prairie students wore all shades of pink.

The field was bathed in brightness thanks to six banks of lights towering above. There were no video cameras being held on top of stepladders; Wayzata used a telescoping pole to raise its camera above the south goal posts, and the Eden Prairie video crew stood atop high scaffolding.

Each school has its own athletic trainer. Eden Prairie’s trainer is Gary Smith, who as a younger man was the trainer for the 1980 Miracle on Ice hockey team. Wayzata trainer Chris Thein is another veteran.

At the MSAD-Spectrum game, there was no pressbox, few assistant coaches and no headsets for coaches to communicate with each other. Eden Prairie has a large press box for the announcer, timer and scoreboard operator, along with spots for television cameras, radio crews and reporters. In addition, each team has its own smaller box from where assistants with headsets talk to the coaches on the sideline.

The concessions at Elk River were spartan: a folding table held a selection of candy, water and soft drinks, with smiling Spectrum students waiting on the customers. Eden Prairie has several concession choices, including a building that houses the main menu items as well as a Culver’s tent where fresh burgers are available.

At both sites, there were stars on the field. An Italian exchange student named Filippo Caminati made the play of the day for Spectrum, taking the ball away from an MSAD runner and dashing 20 yards for a fourth-quarter touchdown that sealed the victory for the Sting. Jordy Ildvad scored two rushing touchdowns for Spectrum. MSAD’s Brennan McDonough had two touchdowns, and teammate Shaun Novella caused a fumble that Tommy Ellenbecker returned for a Trojans touchdown.

On Wednesday, Wayzata’s Chris Pierson had two interceptions and blocked a punt that Drew Greely returned for a touchdown. The Trojans also scored on a short run by Jeff Borchardt and recorded a safety when a pass from the end zone by Eden Prairie quarterback Ryan Connelly was ruled intentional grounding.

The numbers – of students, players and fans – were very different from Tuesday to Wednesday. The settings could not have been further apart, and I’m not talking about geographical distance. But the action on the two football fields was exactly the same: Hard-working, well-trained athletes working together and doing their best in an effort to come out with a victory.

I can’t imagine two better places to be.

--To see photo galleries from each game, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 205
*Miles John has driven: 3,546
(*During the 2012-13 school year)

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter @MSHSLjohn

27 Football Teams Finish Perfect Regular Seasons
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/18/2012 12:01:22 AM

Congratulations to the 27 football teams that have completed the regular season with zero losses. Good luck to all teams in the playoffs!

CLASS 6A/ Maple Grove

CLASS 5A/ Moorhead, Owatonna, St. Paul Central, Spring Lake Park, Totino-Grace

CLASS 4A/ DeLaSalle, Detroit Lakes, Hutchinson, Marshall

CLASS 3A/ Blue Earth Area, Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta, Rochester Lourdes

CLASS 2A/ Barnesville, BOLD, Caledonia, Hawley, Lewiston-Altura, Moose Lake-Willow River

CLASS 1A/ Mahnomen, Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s

NINE-MAN/ Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley, Hills-Beaver Creek, Nevis, Nicollet, Spring Grove, Stephen-Argyle

Bloomington Jefferson Football – On The Right Track
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/14/2012 6:08:44 PM

Times have been a little tough for the Bloomington Jefferson football team in recent years, but first-year head coach Tim Carlson has a plan to rebuild. Click here to read about the Jaguars.

Lourdes, Kasson-Mantorville Agree: Time Is Short As Playoffs Loom
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/14/2012 5:26:56 PM

It’s mid-October. And every football player, coach and fan in Minnesota knows what that means: Time is short. One game remains in the regular season, with Week 8 coming up this week, followed by the quick-hitting early playoff rounds and settling in for the parade to the Prep Bowl.

Time is short, and the Week 7 games whittled the number of unbeaten teams in our state. Seven teams suffered their first loss, leaving 31 undefeated teams remaining with one game remaining. The big Week 7 shocker came when second-ranked Edina won at No. 1 Eden Prairie 17-6 in a Class 6A game between Lake Conference neighbors.

For dramatics, big plays, a big crowd and absolute fun, no game was better Friday than the Hiawatha Valley League matchup of Kasson-Mantorville and Rochester Lourdes. Both teams walked onto the artificial turf at University Center in Rochester with 7-0 records and bragging rights on the line. The Lourdes Eagles are top-ranked in Class 3A and the Kasson-Mantorville Komets are No. 7 in Class 4A.

Both teams brought astounding point differentials: Lourdes’ six victories had come by an average score of 41-11, and Kasson-Mantorville’s count was 46-17. The total points scored Friday came close to each team’s average, but Lourdes scored first, scored again quickly and used an early 15-0 cushion to hold off the Komets 36-28.

The opening seven minutes went like this: Kasson loses 15 yards on fourth and nine … Lourdes needs only five plays before quarterback Mark Pagel runs 43 yards for a touchdown … Kasson loses a fumble on its next snap … eight plays later Griff Slightham scores on a four-yard run and the Eagles are in front 15-0.

Erase those touchdown and the Komets win 28-21. Unfortunately for Kasson-Mantorville, scoreboards don’t come with erasers.

“These are two good defensive teams,” Komets coach Ivan Kroulik said. “They were just better than us. You just admit that and you take your lumps.”

It was 15-8 at halftime, and Lourdes made another big statement to open the second half. The Eagles moved 74 yards in six plays, with Pagel covering the final 50 on one big run. It was 22-8, the rest of the game was even points-wise and the Eagles walked off the field carrying an 8-0 record and 500-watt smiles.

“We had a nice drive to go down and score,” Lourdes coach Mike Kesler said. “That was a great start, and we had talked about that. And the opening drive of the second half was almost 80 yards to get another score and set the tone for the second half. That was huge.”

Both teams play rugged defense but they are dissimilar on offense. Kasson-Mantorville is a no-huddle team that throws the ball a bit -- quarterback Riley Donovan completed 13 of 20 for 158 yards and two scores – while Lourdes is as run-oriented as they come. Six Eagles combined for 55 rushes, 340 yards and six touchdowns against the Komets, while Pagel completed the only pass he threw for 11 yards.

Pagel led his team with 18 carries for 118 yards and two scores, and Kasson’s Broc Berge ran 23 times for 128 yards and a touchdown.

The biggest defensive play of the night came with Kasson on offense … so you know how this ends. The Komets were stopped on fourth and one at the Lourdes 19 with 1:34 left in the third quarter, and the Eagles followed with a 30-yard touchdown run by Kane Carsten for a 29-15 lead. Boom. Another statement.

“They ran the bal,” Kroulik said. “We thought we were going to be able to stop them and they ran the ball well. We had a couple of turnovers that really hurt us. We came out in the second half strong, had the fourth and one and we didn’t get it; I thought that was one of the turning points of the game.”

Kesler said, “Our defense has been playing very well and we knew we were going to have our hands full. That’s a great Kasson program, which we have a lot of respect for. It’s a great rivalry. We made a big play.”

The final analysis included this common thread: That early 15-0 lead – even though a lot of football remained to be played -- was crucial for Lourdes.

“That was huge,” Pagel said. “To go into half with any kind of lead against a really good team, you’ve got to be able to do that. It’s really huge. You’ve got to have a lead against teams, you’ve got to hold them off. They came back later on, and we needed that cushion.”

And now we move on to Week 8. It’s a shortie, with a few games on Tuesday, the bulk of the contests on Wednesday and a handful on Thursday. After this week’s games, the section playoff pairings will be set and the second season will get underway.

Kasson-Mantorville’s hard-working boys were back at practice at 8 o’clock Saturday morning to begin preparing for a Wednesday home game against Stewartville. Lourdes will play at La Crescent the same night.

“With one game left we’ve got a lot of work to do,” Pagel said. “We’ve got to keep coming together, keep working hard. We’ve got a long ways to go.”

*Schools/teams John has visited: 201
*Miles John has driven: 3,350
(*During the 2012-13 school year)

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter @MSHSLjohn

Visiting Schools And Students, Talking About Journalism
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/11/2012 5:22:57 PM

I often tell people how much I enjoy my job. I’m a sports fan and a storyteller, so traveling around Minnesota and sharing positive stories of high school activities is a wonderful way to go.

Another part of my job is meeting high school students who are interested in journalism. Most of them have heard me tell the story of how I got started: my own high school English teacher, the beloved Mrs. White, gave me the opportunity to write about the teams in my school for our local weekly newspaper. That spark was lit when I was a sophomore in high school and it continues to burn brightly. It has taken me through college, through five newspaper jobs in three states and coverage of youth, amateur, college and professional sports.

One of my missions when I was hired by the MSHSL in March 2010 was creating a program to give young journalists opportunities similar to what I had when I was their age. Thus we have the MSHSL Student Media program, which is very similar to what I did as a teenager. I wrote stories for my local weekly paper; students who are part of this program write stories for their school’s page here on mshsl.org. (You can read about the program by scrolling to the bottom of mshsl.org and clicking on the "Student Media" link.)

This has been a great week for me, because I have spent a lot of time with aspiring journalists. On Monday I drove west on Interstate 94 to Monticello High School, where I met with a Mass Communications class taught by Robby McGuire. A few students walked into the classroom, saw me and asked, “Are you a sub?” No, I’m your guest speaker. I had a great time talking about journalism with the students and answering their questions.

I then met with three Monticello ninth-graders who are interested in the Student Media program. I talked with Tim Witzmann, Nathan Mayer and Parker Gorecki in the office of athletic/activities director Gary Revenig. The boys were enthusiastic as I explained how the program works, and I know we’ll see great things from them.

On Tuesday I attended the Minnesota High School Press Association state convention at the University of Minnesota’s Coffman Memorial Union. I was a workshop presenter, talking to a large number of students on “Sports Reporting From Preps to Pros.” We talked about the great and not-so-great things about the life of a sports reporter, whether the beat is high school or professional sports. The kids asked great questions and I encouraged them to keep in touch with me.

Another school visit was on my agenda Thursday. This time I went south on Interstate 35 to Medford. Most people who regularly travel on that stretch of I-35 probably know Medford as the home of a McDonald’s and an outlet mall. I had never driven into the town of Medford until Thursday. My route meandered through the small town to the school, located on the eastern edge of Medford.

It’s a great place, with K-12 students all attending school in the same modern complex built in 2003. Principal Jeff Sampson welcomed me before taking me to the classroom of English teacher Kelley Ungerecht. She teaches a specialized class called Media Writing, and the students are sophomore Tylor Holmquist, sophomore Benito Mora-Flores and junior Dakota Jones.

Since it was a small group, the students received some goodies (MSHSL pens and notebooks, etc.). I gave them Student Media credentials, which allow them free access to high school events when they are working as reporters. I showed them photos of students who have attended Timberwolves and Twins games with me as credentialed members of the media, and I explained how the Student Media program works. We also looked at John’s Journal, the MSHSL Facebook page and Twitter. The hour went very quickly.

Mr. Sampson then gave me a tour of the school. Medford is the home of the Tigers, and there are Tiger logos all over the place. One sign that doesn’t include a Tiger does carry these words: Respectful, Proud, Responsible. That pretty much says it all about Medford and the rest of the schools in our great state.

--To see photo galleries from Monticello and Medford, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 199
*Miles John has driven: 3,208
(*During the 2012-13 school year)

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter @MSHSLjohn

Old Dutch High School Student Athlete of the Week
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/9/2012 10:40:09 PM

The winner of this week's award is Goodhue senior football player Dillon Huemann.

The senior had 233 yards rushing on 24 carries and scored five touchdowns in a 52-17 victory at Kenyon-Wanamingo on Friday. Dillon is a workhorse running back who averages 24 carries a game despite being only 5-8 and 140 pounds. He also starts at safety and only leaves the field for kickoffs.

Dillon is a team captain for the football team, as well as captain for basketball and baseball. Off the field Dillon has been involved in Youth Group, which serves as a community service and clean-up organization. He also has donated his time as a volunteer coach in football, basketball and baseball, helping out at camps, after-school practices and Saturday leagues. Dillon has been active in the school’s student leadership and mentorship programs, as well as helping our custodial staff an hour each day through student service.

Congratulations to Dillon and all of this season's winners!

Battle For The Apple: Two Schools, Two Halves, One City
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/8/2012 9:11:10 AM

When the football teams from Eastview and Apple Valley met Friday in the first Battle for the Apple trophy game, there was a little bit of everything. Click here to read Brian Jerzak's story.

Buffalo ’52: A Team That Never Lost, Never Gave Up A Point
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/7/2012 1:40:18 PM

In 1952 a gallon of gas cost 20 cents and the Korean War and Cold War were in full swing. The United States successfully detonated the first hydrogen bomb that year, the TV show “Dragnet” premiered on NBC (for the one in three American homes that had a television), nearly 58,000 cases of polio were reported in the U.S. and shortly after the high school football season ended, Dwight Eisenhower was elected president.

So what hasn’t changed since 1952? Well, a member of the royal family is now in the 60th year of her reign as Queen Elizabeth and the 1952 Buffalo High School football team remains a Minnesota legend.

The 1952 Bison played eight games, winning seven and having one end in a scoreless tie. The most remarkable statistic is this: They did not give up a point all season.

“Sixty years is a long time,” said Richard Mills as he smiled and remembered. Mills, a junior left halfback in 1952, was standing in the gymnasium at Buffalo High School on Friday, where 13 members of the ’52 team – and one cheerleader -- were guests of honor. The gym was packed with students for the Homecoming pepfest, and the kids roared as the old Bison were introduced one by one and escorted into the gym by current players. The 1952 players wore matching commemorative purple t-shirts with their numbers on the back.

“I’m both honored to be here and blessed to be here,” said Don Houston, who was a junior right end in 1952. “When you see what’s happened to some of the people, I’m very fortunate to be where I’m at and I hope the best for all these kids that are coming up.”

The ’52 Bison are gray-haired grandpas and some get around with the help of walkers, but the memories flow. They rolled to the Wright County Conference championship, beating Maple Lake 28-0, Monticello 6-0, Howard Lake 46-0, Dassel 32-0, Delano 26-0, Cokato 13-0 and Annandale 19-0, along with the 0-0 tie with Kimball in the penultimate game. There were no overtimes or playoffs in those days, and the Bison of 60 years ago are believed to be one of the few teams in Minnesota history that never gave up a point.

“The only time anybody just about scored against us was a guy standing in the end zone, they threw him a pass with nobody around him and it went right through his hands,” Mills said. “I think that was the only time anybody even came close to scoring on us all year.”

The ’52 players were also honored at Friday night’s Homecoming game against Moorhead. On a cold and windy evening, they were served a pregame dinner inside a heated tent at the football field. They posed for photos, traded stories and were introduced individually before the game, escorted once more by current players as they walked onto the field.

Most of them were farm boys in the 1950s, and some attended country schools before coming into town for their high school years. Farm chores were a priority and football was a simple game.

“Before a football game I went home and milked the cows and fed the cows,” said Warren Krause, a sophomore right guard in 1952. "One thing I thought was interesting: we were not allowed to eat before football games. And there was no water provided on the field. I never recall anybody fainting or anything.”

Houston married his high school sweetheart, Gerrie, (pictured) who was a cheerleader in 1952 and joined the football players for the weekend reunion. The Houstons have spent their lives in Buffalo, as have several of the ’52 Bison.

“A lot of them live quite a ways away, but quite often we talk on the phone,” Don Houston said. “We’ve had good memories with this whole crew. It’s very interesting to see how they have changed over the years. It’s a good thing we have name tags.”

Most of the football players also played basketball and baseball in high school. “If you were an athlete you played everything,” Houston said. “We didn’t have track, we didn’t have hockey, we didn’t have a lot of sports.”

Other than four years of college, Krause also remained a Buffalo resident. He had an older brother who played Bison football and two sons who did the same. And this season, one of the 2012 seniors is his grandson, Andrew Krause.

Andrew, a lineman, knows all about his grandpa’s football history.

“He’s told me a lot of stories,” Andrew said. “Back when I started playing football as a little kid, my grandpa told me how he played on the Buffalo Bison football team. He could brag that his team was undefeated and unscored-upon, and it’s a great honor to fulfill. I’m very proud that I have that legacy behind me.”

--To see a photo gallery of the 1952 team, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 187
*Miles John has driven: 3,064
(*During the 2012-13 school year)

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter @MSHSLjohn

Sportsmanship And Fun On A Windy, Cold Evening
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/6/2012 12:47:39 PM

Here's another example of the positive things that happen in high school activities. This email was sent Friday from soccer official John Paisley to the athletic directors at Becker and Little Falls, Dave Niemi and Aaron Sinclair:

Dave and Aaron;

I don't send messages like this often .... but every once in a while I have a game that triggers communication with schools ....

Today at Becker it was windy, cold and almost dark by the time we finished up a 0-0 OT game. The fans' dress reminded me of the old Met stadium at a mid-December Vikings game ... I put on every layer I could find in my bag. The coaches did their best to humor and encourage their players. The kids played hard, laughed at the cold, had fun with the fans, and both goalkeepers got down and dirty to keep their teams in the game ....

Good luck in the sections and hope to have a chance to officiate another Becker-Little Flyers game next year ...

John Paisley

Stadiums, Conflicts And Timelines: MSHSL Board Looks Ahead
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/4/2012 12:29:32 PM

There was lots of information as well as lively discussion when the MSHSL Board of Directors held its October meeting Thursday. The hottest topics involved schedules and sites for several state tournaments that will be impacted by a new college hockey tournament at Target Center, the demolition of the Metrodome and construction of the new Vikings stadium. No decisions were made Thursday.

With the National Collegiate Hockey Conference tournament coming to Target Center for at least five years beginning in 2014, there will be conflicts with the current dates for the girls state basketball tournament and/or boys state basketball tournament. That means options must be explored by the MSHSL.

There are many options, including moving one or both basketball tournaments to a different week … shortening the number of games in the Twin Cities by going to a Final Four format for each class instead of having eight teams come to the metro area … beginning the tournaments on Tuesday instead of Wednesday (meaning more lost school time). It’s possible that start dates for the basketball seasons also could change.

With construction of the new Vikings stadium and demolition of the Metrodome, the football season and playoff format may have to be adjusted beginning in 2015. It’s anticipated that TCF Bank Stadium at the University of Minnesota will host the Prep Bowl until the new stadium opens; this may mean the Prep Bowl could be held one or two weeks earlier due to weather concerns. In one scenario, the football season could start one week earlier and the playoffs could be shortened by one round in order to play the Prep Bowl games two weeks before Thanksgiving weekend. MSHSL staff is waiting for further information on the stadium timelines.

--The board recognized Pam Macias, who is retiring after many years as MSHSL volleyball rules interpreter.

--MSHSL lobbyist Roger Aronson told the board that the MSHSL has been invited to offer input on the design of the new Vikings stadium in order to make it the best venue possible for high school activities.

--The board discussed becoming a presenting partner with the Minnesota State High School Clay Target League. In the 2012 season, 57 teams representing 100 Minnesota high schools and 1,500 students were part of the MSHSCTL.

Decisions on many of these issues could be made at the board’s next meeting on Dec. 6.

On Thursday's Agenda: MSHSL Board of Directors Meeting
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/3/2012 3:36:29 PM

The 20-member MSHSL Board of Directors, which meets six times a year, will meet Thursday morning at MSHSL headquarters in Brooklyn Center. The meeting will begin at 9:30 a.m.

The agenda is light on action items, and discussion topics will include football and basketball tournament formats/schedules, and the possibility of adding clay target shooting as an MSHSL activity.

You can stay updated on the meeting by following @MSHSLjohn on Twitter, newsworthy updates will be posted on the MSHSL Facebook page and a wrap-up will appear here on John’s Journal.

Great Sportsmanship Is Everywhere
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/3/2012 12:59:31 PM

Here's a great sportsmanship story! This email was sent to Osseo athletic director Ray Kirch this morning ...

Mr. Kirch,

I am a parent from Lakeville South and was attending the Victoria Lions Cross Country Meet yesterday. The last race was the boys JV "C" race. A young man from Waconia was in last place by a significant portion and he was struggling to finish the race. The crowd that was left was trying to encourage him and when he came by our camp our girls rooted him on. At that point he still had about 600 meters left to go.

At this point in the race there is a large loop up and down a hill and as he came down the other side I saw that 2 boys were running with him and I thought that his team had finally come alongside him to encourage him. I was wrong. As he approached the finish it warmed my heart to see that two young men from Osseo were the ones running him in. They walked with him for a bit after the race and it was evident from a distance by their body language that they were encouraging him and congratulating him on finishing. It is one of the many reasons I love this sport - such great kids! Your coaches and your teams deserve a word of praise and thanks!

Lori Lubow

Rosemount Marching Band Is Built On ‘Blood, Sweat, Hours And Tears’
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/1/2012 3:29:11 PM

There are coaches. There are position players. There are seemingly endless practices and spirited, exhaustive competitions. A massive amount of work is involved each season, and each season ends with an even more massive feeling of accomplishment.

Football? Soccer? Volleyball? Cross-country? Wrong on all counts. This is competitive marching band, and no group has been better in recent years than the marching band at Rosemount High School.

They have been crowned the Minnesota state champions for the past six years. They have been a finalist at the Bands of America National Super-Regionals at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis for seven years running. They annually march in the Minnesota State Fair parade and were named the fair’s championship marching band for the past four years. They have performed at World Series games, American League divisional playoffs and Vikings games … even a Green Bay Packers home game.

The Rosemount marching band – and all competitive marching bands – do much more than high-step around the field and play music. Their shows are a cross between Broadway and the Big Ten, a mix of dance, gymnastics, acrobatics, symphony, rock & roll, jazz and the blues.

Bands design and rehearse a different field show each fall. The Rosemount show this year is titled “Don’t Stop” and features music from Ravel’s “Bolero,” Michael Jackson, Fleetwood Mac, Journey and Queen. The Rosemount band has 175 members, and they began rehearsals for the 2012 season in mid-July.

By the first day of school in September, the band had already practiced for eight weeks, usually four days each week for three and a half hours each day, with specialists like the color guard and percussionists working even longer hours.

“When we talk to the kids, prospective students, we compare it to going out for a varsity sport,” said Steve Olsen, who is in his 14th year as a band director at Rosemount. “Because it’s not an MSHSL sport, we can start whenever we want in the summer. Our season’s a little longer, but we’re kind of done before the football season is done.

“We get two reactions (from newcomers to marching band). When they actually see it, their first reaction is ‘I could never do this. I’m not good enough.’ But we tell them it’s baby steps; the left foot goes here and the right foot goes here.”

The other band directors at Rosemount are Leon Sieve, who is in his 10th year there, and Bojan Hoover, a second-year staff member. The student leaders this fall are drum majors Emily Luckhardt, Sam Breyer, Devon Lawrence and Mitchell Mussell. All are seniors, and all played instruments before becoming drum majors.

Asked about the duties of the drum majors, Breyer said, “We set up our rehearsal field, we’re here early every day. We lead stretching, we conduct all the music be it warmups or show excerpts. We always conduct everything.”

The band is further broken down into sections by instrument (plus the color guard, drumline and sideline percussionists), and each section has its own leaders.

The band spends a week at St. John’s University every July, drilling, rehearsing and bonding. St. John’s football coach John Gagliardi – the winningest coach in college football history -- is a regular visitor to the band’s rehearsals.

“John Gagliardi always comes around and says hello,” Olsen said. “He always remarks on how hard these guys work and the discipline they have. He says the admissions office should give scholarships to these kinds of kids.”

All that work, long before the school year begins, allows band members to forge new friendships that carry over when classes start.

“We’re a huge family, it’s really fun,” Luckhardt said. “At the start of the season you might not know a whole lot of people, but as the season goes on you progressively start to build bigger and better relationships. The whole band really just becomes one. Walking into school on the first day, especially back in my freshman year, it’s a huge deal being able to say, ‘Hi, I know you, you’re a senior.’ You’re able to say hi to a lot more people than you would in other activities.”

Luckhardt -- whose father, Jerry Luckhardt, is associate director of bands at the University of Minnesota and former director of the Gophers marching band -- said the commitment of time and work required by the band members is “definitely a second life. We go to band camp and we had drum major camp, that’s an extra 12 days. It takes a lot of blood, sweat, hours and tears to put in a show. But it’s worth it in the long run. Once the season’s done you look back and you can’t even tell how many hours you put in because it goes by so fast and we’re such a family. It’s fun.”

Parents are a big part of competitive marching bands, too, volunteering to build props, sew color guard costumes, load trucks (Rosemount has its own semi-trailer for carrying equipment to competitions) and helping set up and take down equipment at shows.

“There is a fleet of parents behind the scenes,” Olsen said. “It’s a whole community kind of thing. Parents take a lot of pride in it.”

Competitions are held at several schools around the state, including Eden Prairie, Eastview, Irondale, Waseca, Luverne, Marshall, Worthington, Champlin Park and others. This year’s Rosemount Marching Band Festival, held Sept. 15, attracted 18 bands from three states and 6,000 spectators. Bands are judged and scored by experts in various categories, including music performance (individual and ensemble), visual effect (individual and ensemble), and music and visual general effects.

The 2012 Minnesota season will end with the Youth In Music state championships at the Metrodome on Oct. 14. The Bands of America National Super-Regionals in St. Louis will be held Oct. 20-21.

Olsen said it’s his hope that band members take away more than musical skill when the season – and their high school career – comes to an end.

“It’s camaraderie, teamwork, a sense of achievement and pride in the fact that hard work pays off,” he said. “What you put into this you’re going to get out of it, and working together as a team you can accomplish literally anything. Setting goals and achieving them is fun.

“I’ve always been a big believer in the arts and supporting live music. Nowadays, with so much technology around us, it’s so easy to put earbuds in and live in your own world. We want to get an emotional reaction from the audience; that’s the transforming power of the arts. It’s something the students want to be part of for the rest of their lives. They can go on to get involved in a community band, support their own kids in band, support the U of M marching band. There’s something really special about that live interaction with something that’s creative and visceral.”

*Schools/teams John has visited: 183
*Miles John has driven: 2,991
(*During the 2012-13 school year)

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of www.mshsl.org. John Millea is on Twitter @MSHSLjohn

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