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State Soccer Tournament Update
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/30/2017 9:19:18 PM

At U.S. Bank Stadium

Monday’s Semifinals

Class 2A boys/ Wayzata 6, Maple Grove 2
Class 2A boys/ Stillwater 5, Duluth East 1
Class 1A boys/ Totino-Grace 3, Orono 2 (overtime)
Class 1A boys/ St. Thomas Academy 4, Austin 3 (overtime)
Class 1A girls/ Orono 1, Visitation 0
Class 1A girls/ Mahtomedi 3, North Branch 2

Tuesday’s Semifinals
Class 2A girls/ Eagan 2, Wayzata 1
Class 2A girls/ Maple Grove 1, Lakeville North 0 (3-1 shootout)

State Championship Games

10 a.m.: Class 1A boys/ Totino-Grace vs. St. Thomas Academy
12:30 p.m.: Class 1A girls/ Orono vs. Mahtomedi
3 p.m.: Class 2A boys/ Wayzata vs. Stillwater
5:30 p.m.: Class 2A girls/ Eagan vs. Maple Grove

South St. Paul Will Always Think Of Mr. Felton
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/30/2017 6:52:11 PM

A special announcement was made several times Saturday during South St. Paul’s home football playoff game. The stadium announcer informed those in attendance that a fundraiser would be held in November at the local VFW, with funds going to the family of the late Craig Felton.

The stadium announcer was Dave Palmquist, who has taught in South St. Paul for decades and has coached the Packers girls hockey team since 1994. Palmquist would rather not work behind the microphone at home football games, because that was Craig Felton’s job for as long as most people can remember.

Felton, a beloved teacher and coach in South St. Paul, died on Oct. 14. He was 52 and had been diagnosed with liver cancer three years ago. He taught physics, coached the girls golf team and also coached junior high girls soccer and basketball. And he didn’t miss announcing a home football game for 20 years until shortly before he died.

“He was all about South St. Paul,” Palmquist said. “He’s from South St. Paul, he represents the goodness and the hardworking part of South St. Paul. He was involved in so many different things in different parts of a lot of kids’ lives, and not just in the classroom, either.”

Felton was a proud South St. Paul graduate who lived on the same street as other family members. His brother Tim, a doctor, was on the sideline at football games and his brother Jason was a spotter for Craig in the press box.

“The last two weeks have been an emotional roller-coaster,” said Packers athletic director and football coach Chad Sexauer after his team defeated Hill-Murray 38-7 in the Class 4A Section 3 semifinals. “Craig was an instrumental guy, threaded throughout the entire school.”

Fans at Saturday’s game saw a large banner on the back of the press box. Written in big red letters was #WhenIThinkOfMr.Felton. Hand-written messages covered the sign in honor of Craig.

“He was a great guy,” said Packers senior kicker Sam Rohrer. “I met him last year at the beginning of the year for physics and instantly we had a connection; everyone did with him. He was outgoing and he would always want to know how your day was going. He always put the kids first and I thought that was really great of him. He wanted to make sure you had a connection so if you needed anything he would be there for you.”

After Felton’s death, social media lit up with heartfelt messages about Craig with the hash tag from the poster. It was a modern-day-media salute to a man who impacted countless lives in the hometown and school he loved so dearly.

“The social media thing was crazy. It continued to grow and grow,” Sexauer said. “It’s a meaningful deal, no doubt about it.”

After Felton’s death, Sexauer (pictured with Craig) said “it was a really emotional day for 24 (football players) that have him in class and for all the people who knew him. We had meetings and every coach was crying. We said, ‘Our community needs us right now. Let’s go out and have fun and battle and make him proud.’ And that’s what they do.”

Rohrer said, “It was hard. The fact that most of us didn’t get to say goodbye to him was really tough. It kind of propelled the whole team to play for him and honor him. He was our announcer, of course, and he was very impactful on all of us who ever saw him or met him.

“He was a great example. I hope to be like him, because he made that connection with everyone and it really showed in our community when he passed away. He was impactful and he really did what was right.”

Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

The Sights, The Sounds, The Tweets: It’s All Good
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/26/2017 8:12:12 PM

As a wise man (a former co-worker of mine named Sid Hartman) once said, “There’s a lot of stuff on that Internet.” That is a true statement, but it’s a lot more fun seeing real things and real people with your real eyes at real events ... and sometimes seeing reaction on the Internet

So far this week, I’ve been watching the girls state tennis tournament and girls and boys state soccer quarterfinals while football playoffs also are underway. I’ve lost track of how many tennis matches I’ve seen at the Class 1A and 2A sites in Minneapolis but through three days of soccer I’ve watched a total of six games, with doubleheaders at Prior Lake, Farmington and St. Cloud State. Those experiences, coupled with some stuff posted on that stuff-filled Internet, have made for an interesting few days. Here are some snippets…

*Visitation and Blake played scoreless girls soccer through 80 minutes of regulation time and two 10-minute overtime periods, leading to a penalty-kick shootout. Visitation scored on all five of its kicks, Blake was good on three kicks and the Blazers advanced to next week’s state semifinals at U.S. Bank Stadium. It’s only the second trip to state for Visitation and the first since 2001. The postgame scenes can be summed up by these two: The winning team posing for a photo on the field, then erupting in screams and hugs, with some members of the losing squad bursting into sobs as they were embraced by their parents.

*A Twitter message from @triplebillphoto arrived with this update from another soccer site: “Mankato West band just played ‘Ghost Riders in the Sky.’ ”

*The MSHSL’s Thank A Ref initiative has been gaining ground throughout the fall season. We always need more officials in all sports on all levels and it’s important to show our appreciation for those who choose to work with our youth. Also, people who abuse officials need to be reminded when their behavior goes over the line. That happened during a soccer game in Prior Lake when fans sitting in front of the press box began barking at the officials. The stadium announcer leaned out of his booth and told those people to pipe down or they would be removed. That’s another good reminder that we’re all in this together and we all need to speak up when poor sportsmanship is clear.

*In a related note, an important Tweet was issued by @FHSBerg (Farmington High School principal Jason Berg, also an MSHSL football official). He wrote: “FHS - how do you represent our school/community on the field/in the stands - let's be the solution and not part of the problem. #TigerPride” The Tweet was linked to a story from an Indiana newspaper about the relationship between abusive fans and a lack of officials. School administrators are on the front line when it comes to sportsmanship, and it’s always great when they take these messages directly to their students and adult fans and make everyone accountable for taking the high road.

*Hats off to the football team from Wadena-Deer Creek. The Wolverines defeated Staples-Motley 42-20 in the Class 2A Section 6 playoffs on Tuesday night, ending a 19-year string of postseason losses.

*Is there a better high school spot than Farmington’s Tiger Stadium? The playing field is in a bowl setting, with the high school standing sentry behind the south end zone. After dark, the giant eyes of a tiger painted behind a glass wall stare out at the field.

*The girls and boys state tennis tournaments are unlike any others for one reason: The players make the calls on whether balls are in or out. It’s the old-fashioned honor system and it’s a great testament to Minnesota kids.

*I issued this Tweet Tuesday evening and it was re-Tweeted hundreds of times: “Best Thing I Saw Today: After Bemidji soccer loss, mom hugs her son before he heads toward team bus: ‘See you at home. I love you.’ ”

*After the Willmar football team saw its season end with a narrow playoff loss to Rocori, a senior named Tayler Tjaden Tweeted about his feelings. His statement included these words: “Tonight we Seniors shed tears for more than merely losing a game. … We cry because we will never have the opportunity to make more memories with our teammates. We cry because we remember the brotherhood and camaraderie that we experienced. We cry because this is the last time we will suit up in the red and white of the Willmar Cardinals.” Well put, Tayler.

*When Hutchinson’s football team defeated New Ulm 44-20 on Tuesday, it was the 1,000th all-time game for the Hutch Tigers. And the head coaches for 580 of those games are the father-son duo of Grady and Andy Rostberg. Grady (now retired) coached 367 games and Andy (current coach) has coached 213 games.

*Participants in the girls (and boys in the spring) state tennis tournaments are very fortunate to work with Hal Miller, who lives in Alexandria. Hal, a longtime teacher and coach who was inducted into the MSHSL Hall of Fame in 2015, has been a site manager for girls and boys state tennis tournaments for 32 years, and this week’s girls tournament is his 63nd in that role. He stresses sportsmanship as well as fun when talking with the players, and repeat qualifiers always enjoy seeing him again.

*Finally, a postscript to the previous John’s Journal story about Bemidji senior Linaes Whiting, who competed on three teams (soccer, football, cross-country) this fall. I posted my story about Linaes after their state quarterfinal overtime soccer loss to Austin on Tuesday evening. A little later, Linaes posted a message on Twitter:

“I’d like to thank all of my teammates, coaches, family, teachers, and friends during the last few fall seasons. It’s been so much fun playing with all of you and I wouldn’t have changed anything. … I’d also like to thank John for the nice article which hopefully will inspire other kids to go out and participate in lots of sports, instead of specialize in one. I truly believe being on all these teams have made me a better person, developing friendships, finding ways to face adversity, and becoming the best person I can be.”

Linaes’ important message was re-Tweeted many, many times and led to lots of positive responses. Then there was this Tweet, which came from Bemidji swimming and diving coach Woody Leindecker: “I wonder if he can swim?”

Don’t bet against him.

Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

Bemidji’s Linaes Whiting: One Season, Three Sports
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/24/2017 8:26:33 PM

Linaes Whiting was not in uniform for the Bemidji High School boys soccer team in Tuesday’s Class 1A state quarterfinals. And that just doesn’t happen, especially during the fall sports season. Here’s why: the senior is a member of the Lumberjacks’ soccer, football and cross-country teams.

He also plays basketball in the winter and runs track in the spring; it must be easy to play only one sport at a time compared to three at once, right?

“I hear a lot of people say that,” said Linaes, whose team fell to Austin 3-2 in overtime Tuesday. “But I don’t think it’s that much tougher than playing one sport. I have more games but I wouldn’t say I’m that much busier. I do my homework, I have a social life, and there are days when there are no games. I find time.”

Here’s the downside: Whiting suffered a knee injury in the Lumberjacks’ Section 8 championship game against St. Cloud Cathedral, ending his fall season. He does not need surgery but can’t compete in any sports for four weeks. He’s happy the injury wasn’t more serious.

“I’ll still have basketball and track,” he said. “It’s tough but at least we got to state again. That was our goal at the beginning of the year.”

Bemidji lost in the state quarterfinals last year in a nine-round shootout against Mankato West. Linaes (pictured) led the Lumberjacks in scoring this season with 28 goals (and is the third-leading career scorer in school history) followed by Silas Hess with 22. After finishing 18-3 last season, Tuesday’s defeat gave Bemidji a 16-3-2 record.

Soccer is Whiting’s top fall sport when it comes to practice time. His conditioning for cross-country meets came through playing soccer, and he spent time working on kicking field goals and extra points with the football team when he could. He didn't miss soccer games and on occasion had to frantically rush from one contest to another.

A typical double game day was Aug. 31. The soccer team played a 3:30 game at Hillcrest Lutheran in Fergus Falls and the football season opener was a 7 p.m. home game against Rogers. After the soccer game, Linaes traveled the 130 miles home to Bemidji.

“He showed up and made it back in time to kick our first field goal of the year,” said football coach and activities director Troy Hendricks. “He comes rolling in and does what he’s asked to do.”

When the Bemidji football team played at Brainerd later this fall, Linaes was with the soccer team for a game against Sartell in Bemidji. Once the soccer game ended, he traveled the 98 miles to Brainerd, arriving during the fourth quarter.

“If we can get him at a Thursday practice or at the end of practice a few times a year, we take advantage of it,” Hendricks said. “I always know that he’ll be ready to go on Friday night.”

Whiting, whose longest field goal this year was 44 yards, began playing soccer at age 3. He has been a member of the Lumberjacks’ varsity soccer, football and cross-country teams for three years now. Cross-country coach Ryan Aylesworth was one of Linaes’ seventh-grade teachers and he convinced him to try that sport, which he did beginning in ninth grade.

Soccer coach Rick Toward called Whiting “a great kid. He’s one of those humble ones, someone who does it right. He just enjoys the moment, he’s thrilled to compete and he loves being part of the team.”

A goal by Ben Hess gave Bemidji a 1-0 halftime lead against Austin, and the Packers (18-0-2) took a 2-1 lead on back-to-back goals by Lonyjera Okal and Mooday Wah early in the second half. John Chadwick scored for the Lumberjacks to make it 2-2 with seven minutes remaining in regulation, and Okal’s second goal of the game sealed the win for Austin in overtime.

The Lumberjacks certainly missed their scoring leader, who sat on the bench in street clothes, including a well-adorned letter jacket.

Linaes was a member of Bemidji’s state-championship 4x800 relay team last spring as a junior along with seniors Isaac Berg, Alex Vollen and Cody Roder. He had run that relay with Vollen and Berg since he was in ninth grade, and he said winning a state title “was awesome.”

Whiting is thinking about competing in basketball or track and cross-country in college, and he’s in the process of selecting a school. Once his knee heals he will resume playing basketball. But for now, his absence from three teams is no fun for anyone.

“The soccer coach is bummed, the cross-country coach is bummed, and the football coach is bummed,” Hendricks said.

“The kid’s a great athlete, obviously,” Toward said after Tuesday’s soccer game. “His commitment to all of his sports is just amazing. His primary sport is basketball, but for him to be able to step onto the field as a soccer player with basically just high school season training … he’s a starting varsity player for three years, led the team in scoring this year, third all-time in the program.

“It would be frightening to know what he would be like if he were dedicated to one sport. We were thrilled to have him as an athlete for us and we were sorry to see his season and his soccer career end short. We were thrilled to have him.”

Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

Class 1A Volleyball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/24/2017 1:27:06 PM

1. Mayer Lutheran (12) - 180
2. Tracy-Milroy-Balaton - 168
3. Minneota - 156
4. Hayfield - 140
5. Bethlehem Academy - 124
6. Wadena-Deer Creek - 118
7. Caledonia - 101
8. Waterville-Elysian-Morristown - 97
9. Rush City - 66
10. Mabel-Canton - 64
Others Receiving Votes: Canby - 21
Teams Only Appearing On One Ballot - Windom, Sacred Heart, New Life Academy

Class 2A Volleyball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/24/2017 1:26:48 PM

1. Maple Lake (14) - 210
2. Marshall - 189
3. Stewartville - 188
4. North Branch - 159
5. Rocori - 148
6. Hill-Murray - 132
7. SW Christian - 112
8. Norwood-Young America - 91
9. Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta - 89
10. Kasson-Mantorville - 45
Others Receiving Votes: St. Cloud Cathedral - 39, Kenyon-Wanamingo - 37, Holy Angels - 19
Teams Only Appearing On One Ballot - Park Rapids

Class 3A Volleyball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/24/2017 1:26:31 PM

1. Eagan (12) - 180
2. Lakeville North - 168
3. Lakeville South - 155
4. Champlin Park - 134
5. Hopkins - 131
6. Prior Lake - 116
7. Stillwater - 114
8. Eden Prairie - 86
9. East Ridge - 81
10. Shakopee - 71
Others Receiving Votes: Northfield - 18
Teams Only Appearing On One Ballot - Maple Grove

Congratulations to 2017 MSHSL Hall Of Fame Class
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/22/2017 10:34:07 PM

Twelve individuals were honored Sunday afternoon with induction into the MSHSL Hall of Fame. Since 1991, the MSHSL has honored deserving individuals with this recognition.

Sunday's ceremony honored a dozen of Minnesota's finest contributors to athletics and activities.

Pictured are front row (left to right): Larry Gallagher, Dwight Lundeen, Harry Kitts, Krissy Wendell. Back row (left to right): Marv Peters, Kevin Merkle, Dick Eldridge. Bill Miles, Darrell Thompson, Bruce Phelps, Todd Hering. Unable to attend was Heather Van Norman.

Congratulations to all!

--Photo by Mark Erickson, Minnesota Prep Photo.

An Autumn Evening Amid A Season Of Memories
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/18/2017 11:07:41 PM

I was standing on the sideline at Edina’s Kuhlman Field on Wednesday evening, watching the Hornets play host to Eden Prairie in a Week 8 football game between unbeaten Class 6A teams. As is usually the case, I snuck glances at my phone to get updates from other games all over our great state via Twitter.

The setting in Edina was spectacular. As the sun receded into the western horizon, the bright stadium lights stepped up and took control. Both schools brought big crowds to witness the game between teams ranked No. 1 (Eden Prairie) and No. 2 (Edina) in Class 6A, the big boys of high school in Minnesota.

Cheerleaders from both schools wore pink accents in a nod to the fight against cancer. The Edina Hornets took the field by running through a giant inflatable tunnel with a giant air-filled hornet perched on top; four players carried large flags as they sprinted onto the turf, flags representing the U.S., our state, POW-MIAs and the Hornets themselves.

One of the officials came over to say hi at halftime, telling me they had noticed my bright red Toyota Camry in the parking lot. Another gentleman shook my hand and said, “I thought you might be in Ely or someplace like that tonight.”

Nope, I was in Edina for my first Class 6A game of the autumn. It seemed like a grand way to essentially cap off the regular season for MSHSL fall sports. And it’s been a wonderful ride from August into October. I haven’t tracked how many events I have attended, but I saw volleyball at Mabel-Canton and Sibley East, football in International Falls and Wabasso, cross-country in Lakeville and Minnetrista, girls swimming in Hutchinson and New Prague, soccer in St. Paul and on and on.

These events, all of them, are special because high school activities mean so much to so many. The athletes and coaches, for sure, but it’s always a treat to see grandparents sitting on wooden gym bleachers or watching an outdoor game from lawn chairs. The sight of little kids throwing around a toy football on the perimeter of a high school game always brings a smile. And when a talented pep band gets cranked up, well, I’m in my happy place.

When the Edina marching band took the field before Friday’s game, it seemed like clowns escaping a clown car. The band members just kept coming and coming, nearly filling the field. When I asked one of the kids how many are in the band, the answer was 380. Wow.

I love hearing student sections have fun, as evidenced by the kids from Eden Prairie yelling “Marco!” from one side and hearing the response – “Polo!” – come from the Edina youth across the field.

Twitter was filled with other great moments from across the state as the football regular season ended and thoughts began turning to the postseason. There were dispatches from Spring Valley, where Kingsland High School was doing something that no Knights team had done since 2012: Win a football game.

When the final score was posted (Kingsland 35, Hayfield 14) you could almost feel the celebration in southern Minnesota as the Knights and their fans marked the end of a 50-game losing streak.

There was an update from Marshall, where the unbeaten Class 4A Tigers defeated Jordan 76-34 and Marshall senior running back Jefferson Lee V became the fourth player in state history to score 100 touchdowns.

That final score was followed by this Tweet from the Jordan activities department: “Marshall outscored opponents 459-66 this season. Jordan scores 34 tonight, Heads up Hubmen!”

A Tweet from Glencoe-Silver Lake showed the Panthers football team facing the camera above the caption, “Tackle cancer night at GSL. This for you KEVIN!”

There was a postgame Tweet from a football game between Buffalo and Rogers, showing both teams gathered together at midfield for a photo. It’s hard to beat that for sportsmanship, togetherness and community.

The regular season isn’t over for everybody involved in fall sports, but we’re getting close. The girls and boys state soccer tournaments will get underway next week and the girls state tennis tournament will happen next week with team, singles and doubles titles decided. Volleyball teams are beginning section play and cross-country teams will soon do the same. We’ll see the girls swimming and diving state championships, the adapted soccer state tournament, and the fall season will come to a close with Prep Bowl football games on Thanksgiving weekend.

If what we’ve seen so far is any indication, it’s going to be a great finish.

Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

Thank A Ref
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/18/2017 7:43:27 AM

Each year the MSHSL emphasizes the importance of officials in all sports and activities with an initiative called "Thank A Ref." Games are not possible without officials, and it's important to let them know that they are appreciated in what can sometimes be a thankless job.

With that in mind, here's an email that was sent to Jason Nickleby, the MSHSL's coordinator of officials ...

Hi Jason,

I am a 10-year-plus MSHSL soccer referee and I wanted to share with you a recent experience I had.

While reffing the varsity boys game at Rockford on Oct. 3, one of the Rockford players, during a lull in the game early in the second half, said to me "Thanks for coming out to ref us tonight." This totally caught me off guard! I don't recall this ever happening during a game before. But is sure made me feel good!

After I read your article a couple of days ago in the Bulletin, it occurred to me that that might have been the impetus for that player's comment.

Also, in the 30-plus games I've reffed this fall, I think I've heard "Thanks for reffing us" more times in the postgame handshake line than I've heard in previous years. And that's always good to hear.


Jim Brown

The Game, The Afternoon Sunshine, The Morrison County Milk Jug
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/16/2017 4:05:46 PM

Some events are great and some events are beyond outstanding. Let’s tap into that latter category as I tell you about my trip to the great central Minnesota communities of Swanville and Upsala for a Week 7 football game.

The contest would end with one team – either the Upsala-Swanville Patriots or the Royalton Royals – celebrating with the Morrison County Milk Jug, one of a multitude of traveling trophies from rivalries all over the state.

We’ll get to the Jug, but let’s start at the beginning, which was Sept. 7 when I chatted with Hopkins High School athletic director Dan Johnson at a cross-country meet. He told me about meeting Swanville AD/teacher/assistant football coach/head girls basketball coach Aaron Gapinski and learning that Upsala-Swanville plays one football game in the afternoon each year. I sent an email to Aaron, received confirmation and we started making plans.

A few emails later my day was set. I arrived in Swanville at 10:30 a.m. and spoke to the entire high school student population (all 75 or 80 of them), talking about the MSHSL, what it does and my job. Then I was escorted to the kindergarten room to enjoy root beer floats with the kindergartens kids and the volleyball team, followed by pizza with some of the teachers. Food? Check.

Then it was time to drive 15 miles to Upsala. The two schools have their own identities: the Swanville Bulldogs and the Upsala Cardinals. They have cooperative teams in some sports, including football, in which they are the Upsala-Swanville Area (USA) Patriots. Once football season ends, the boys from the two schools will be rivals on the basketball court.

The Patriots play three of their four regular-season home games in Swanville, where Con Natvig Field has lights. The field in Upsala is unencumbered by electrical illumination and provided a lovely setting for Friday’s 2 o’clock game, about which the only word I can come up with is “idyllic.” There was bright sunshine, a cool breeze, fall colors everywhere. The combined pep band from both USA schools was on hand, with fans ringing the field, people sitting on lawn chairs and laying on blankets, and one kid climbing a tree to get a good view of the action.

Before kickoff I chatted with Con Natvig himself. Con began coaching high school football in 1966, is a member of the Minnesota Football Coaches Association Hall of Fame and is now a volunteer assistant with the Patriots in his 52nd year as a coach. He knows the game as well as anyone.

This was a good matchup between teams in the Mid-State District. Class 2A Royalton came in with a 5-1 record after advancing to the state quarterfinals last year. The Class 1A USA Patriots also were 5-1. The outcome would have an impact on seeding for section tournaments; Royalton in Section 7 and the Patriots in Section 4.

The Morrison County Milk Jug is a relatively new prize. Royalton coach Jamie Morford explained: “It used to be a heated rivalry and now it’s a very friendly competition. With conference realignment and district realignment, we kind of lost that. We wanted to do something to bring the excitement that was, so we came up with the idea for the Jug. It’s really brought a little added atmosphere to it.”

Small towns are always unique places and here’s one example: Swanville head football coach Jay Loven is also the chairman of the school board. And if you need gas, automotive repairs or want to purchase a vehicle, Loven’s Auto Center can take care of you. Jay is the third-generation owner of the business.

As the game began, Loven’s boys held their own in a defensive battle. Royalton’s first offensive series was marked by bad news when Royals quarterback Gavin Suska threw an interception, took a helmet to the thigh and limped off the field. He stayed in the game but was slowed the rest of the day, unable to roll out with effectiveness.

USA punted on its first three possessions and the Royals did so twice after the pickoff. But then the fans gathered around the field – and watching from a treetop – saw a trend begin to develop midway through the second quarter when Royalton running back Cole Wentland broke free on a 57-yard scoring burst.

Wentland added a 17-yard touchdown run on the Royals’ next possession and they led 13-0 at halftime. Any hopes of regrouping by the USA fans were dashed when the Patriots lost a fumble on their own 32-yard line to open the second half. Boom. Wentland charged 27 yards for another TD.

Suska threw off one leg to Zach Gottwalt for a 25-yard score before the Patriots got on the board with a 25-yard pass from Jorgan Kiley to Alex Thieschafer. Wentland closed it out with his fourth touchdown, a 15-yard run with 10 minutes to play. Final score: Royals 35, Patriots 8.

“USA’s defense is always very tough,” Morford said afterwards. “Jay runs a good defense and they’ve had our number. I just wanted to make sure we could pound away and do the things we wanted to do. Having Gavin get hurt, that changed some things, we weren’t able to throw like we wanted to. But the kids responded well.”

After the teams exchanged postgame handshakes, the Royals gathered up the Jug and cheered, thrusting index fingers into the cloudless afternoon sky. They settled down and took a knee to hear a few words from Morford. He reminded them that the regular season will end in a short week, with Royalton meeting Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg on Wednesday (and USA facing Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa, the only team to beat the Royals this season).

“Savor this for tonight,” Morford told the Royals. “But we’ll rock and roll on Monday. Wednesday comes quick.”

As he wrapped up his remarks, the coach had one request: “Hand me that jug!”

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

Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

Class 1A Volleyball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/16/2017 2:49:51 PM

1. Mayer Lutheran (12) - 180
2. Tracy-Milroy-Balaton - 168
3. Minneota - 156
4. Hayfield - 129
5. Bethlehem Academy - 126
6. Wadena-Deer Creek - 121
7. Caledonia - 99
8. Waterville-Elysian-Morristown - 93
9. Rush City - 76
10. Mabel-Canton - 57
Others Receiving Votes: Canby - 34

Class 2A Volleyball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/16/2017 2:49:31 PM

1. Maple Lake (13) - 195
2. Marshall - 174
3. Stewartville - 164
4. North Branch - 158
5. Rocori - 136
6. Hill-Murray - 99
7. SW Christian - 93
8. Norwood-Young America - 81
9. Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta - 79
10. St. Cloud Cathedral - 56
Others Receiving Votes: Holy Angels - 51, Kasson-Mantorville - 33, Kenyon-Wanamingo - 28
Teams Only Appearing On One Ballot - Jackson County Central, Pipestone

Class 3A Volleyball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/16/2017 2:49:10 PM

1. Eagan (12) - 180
2. Lakeville North - 168
3. Lakeville South - 156
4. Hopkins - 134
5. Stillwater - 122
6. Champlin Park - 121
7. Prior Lake - 115
8. East Ridge - 82
9. Shakopee - 69
10. Eden Prairie - 57
Others Receiving Votes: Northfield - 26, Moorhead - 24
Teams Only Appearing On One Ballot - STMA

Class 1A Girls Swimming and Diving Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/16/2017 2:48:33 PM

1. Hutchinson
2. Visitation
3. Sartell
4. Northfield
5. Delano
6. Breck
7. Blake
8. Foley
9. Dassel-Cokato
10. Sauk Rapids-Rice
Boost Post

Class 2A Girls Swimming and Diving Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/16/2017 2:48:13 PM

1. Edina
2. Minnetonka
3. Wayzata
4. Eden Prairie
5. Stillwater
6. Blaine
7. Lakeville North
8. Prior Lake
9. East Ridge
10. Rosemount

Congratulations To 2017 Coaches Hall Of Fame Inductees
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/15/2017 12:26:09 AM

Five individuals were inducted into the Minnesota State High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame on Saturday evening during a banquet at the Sheraton West hotel in Minneapolis.

The inductees are:

--Rick Ringeisen, Lakeville South, swimming, track and field

--Bruce Kugath, Shakopee, boys basketball

--Linda Barstad Gust, St. Louis Park, synchronized swimming

--Bud Bjornaraa, Apple Valley, track and field

--Dan Schneider, Lakeville North, swimming

In addition to honoring the Hall of Fame inductees, several other awards were presented to officials and administrators, and state championship coaches and coaches and assistant coaches of the year in all sports were recognized.

Homecoming Week In Houston: “Canes Against Cancer”
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/11/2017 3:34:38 PM

HOUSTON – Homecoming is always a special week, with events taking place that involve school spirit and community pride. In this small southeast Minnesota town, Homecoming 2017 took on a special significance when students decided to make it about more than the usual topics.

When members of the Houston High School student council began thinking about Homecoming this year, they settled on two themes: Cancer and colors. With each type of cancer, specific colors are used in awareness and fundraising. Thus, the Houston Hurricanes – from seventh through 12th grade – spent last week raising money and having fun.

“It’s amazing. They’re owning it,” said activities director Lisa Myran-Schutte.

Each class was assigned a color that represents a certain type of cancer:

12th Grade: Pink – Breast Cancer
11th Grade: Grey - Brain Cancer
10th Grade: Orange - Kidney Cancer
9th Grade: Blue – Colon Cancer
8th Grade: Lime Green – Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
7th Grade: Gold– Childhood Cancer

Throughout the week, each class competed to earn points in events like dress-up days and class games. Students also earned points by decorating storefront windows in downtown Houston, by creating class posters and class floats for the Homecoming parade, and collecting Coins for Cancer.

There was a “Block Out Cancer” volleyball night and “Tackle Cancer” for the football game.

A pepfest was held for elementary students, with Homecoming royalty, volleyball and football players and the pep band on hand. “It was loud and exciting,” Myran-Schutte said.

The week ended with the Homecoming dance on Saturday, and students who brought food-shelf items were eligible for prizes.

For a high school with 104 students, this was a special effort involving every little kid, families and the community as a whole. The efforts went beyond winning on the athletic field and were geared toward helping others.

“They just really owned it,” said Myran-Schutte. “My sense from them is that they saw the bigger picture.”

The only downside to Homecoming week was the weather for Friday night’s football game against Spring Grove. The Lions came in as the top-ranked team in Nine-Man football and the Hurricanes were No. 3. The game was played in heavy rain and was interrupted for 90 minutes when lightning moved across the area. Spring Grove came away with a 26-6 victory.

But more important things took place all week. The efforts raised nearly $2,000.

“The most impressive thing to me as the athletic director is the kids took something for themselves and made it about others," Myran-Schutte said. "Homecoming week can be a lot of work for the adults in the school, but I have never looked forward to it as much as I did this year. Every meeting the student council had just warmed my heart.”

Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

Nine-Man Football Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/11/2017 3:30:00 PM

School Total Points Prv
1. Spring Grove (6) (6-0) 68 1
2. Cromwell (1) (6-0) 58 2
3. Stephen-Argyle (6-0) 49 4
4. Verndale (6-0) 46 6
5. Grand Meadow (5-1) 37 T7
6. Red Rock Central (6-0) 35 T7
7. Houston (5-1) 34 3
8. Cleveland (5-1) 33 T7
9. Norman County East-Ulen-Hitterdal (5-1) 8 NR
10. Nevis (5-1) 5 5
(tie) North Woods (5-1) 5 NR
Others receiving votes: Brandon-Evansville 3, Mountain Iron-Buhl 2, Buffalo Lake-Hector 1, Sleepy Eye St. Mary's 1.

Class 1A Football Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/11/2017 3:29:46 PM

School Total Points Prv
1. Goodhue (1) (6-0) 54 4
2. Wabasso (3) (6-0) 52 2
3. Braham (6-0) 46 3
4. Minneota (1) (6-0) 41 5
5. BOLD (1) (6-0) 39 6
6. Ottertail Central (6-0) 32 7
7. Ada-Borup (6-0) 28 8
8. Mayer Lutheran (6-0) 18 T9
9. Rushford-Peterson (5-1) 7 1
10. Mahnomen (5-1) 6 NR
(tie) Blooming Prairie (5-1) 6 NR
Others receiving votes: Upsala-Swanville 1.

Class 2A Football Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/11/2017 3:29:31 PM

School Total Points Prv
1. Caledonia (7) (6-0) 70 1
2. Barnesville (6-0) 60 T2
3. Minneapolis North (6-0) 59 T2
4. Hawley (6-0) 48 4
5. Triton (5-1) 43 T5
6. Pipestone (5-1) 24 8
7. Redwood Valley (5-1) 22 T5
8. Paynesville (5-1) 21 T9
9. Maple River (5-1) 15 NR
10. Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City (5-1) 14 T9
Others receiving votes: Minnewaska 6, Pillager 3.

Class 3A Football Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/11/2017 3:29:17 PM

School Total Points Prv
1. St. Croix Lutheran (7) (6-0) 79 1
2. Pierz (1) (6-0) 73 3
3. Sibley East (6-0) 59 5
4. Spectrum (6-0) 47 6
5. Rochester Lourdes (5-1) 38 2
6. Glencoe-Silver Lake (5-1) 36 8
7. Fairmont (5-1) 32 7
8. Perham (5-1) 27 9
9. Annandale (5-1) 26 4
10. Esko (5-1) 16 10
Others receiving votes: Jackson County Central 5, Pequot Lakes 1, Two Harbors 1.

Class 4A Football Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/11/2017 3:29:01 PM

School Total Points Prv
1. Winona (6) (6-0) 77 1
2. Marshall (6-0) 70 2
3. Benilde-St. Margaret's (2) (6-0) 69 3
4. Hutchinson (6-0) 56 5
5. Rocori (6-0) 46 6
6. Kasson-Mantorville (6-0) 32 9
(tie) Cloquet (6-0) 32 8
8. Holy Angels (5-1) 26 4
9. Zimmerman (6-0) 21 10
10. Mound-Westonka (6-0) 7 NR
Others receiving votes: Delano 2, South St. Paul 1, Waseca 1.

Class 5A Football Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/11/2017 3:28:44 PM

School Total Points Prv
1. Owatonna (7) (6-0) 79 2
2. Chaska (1) (6-0) 71 3
3. Robbinsdale Cooper (6-0) 66 4
4. Moorhead (5-1) 46 5
5. Northfield (6-0) 40 T6
(tie) Elk River (5-1) 40 1
7. Apple Valley (5-1) 33 T6
8. Mankato West (5-1) 31 8
9. Andover (5-1) 21 10
10. Mahtomedi (5-1) 7 NR
Others receiving votes: Rogers 3, Chanhassen 3.

Class 6A Football Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/11/2017 3:28:29 PM

School Total Points Prv
1. Eden Prairie (6) (6-0) 60 1
2. Minnetonka (6-0) 54 2
3. Totino-Grace (5-1) 44 5
4. Centennial (5-1) 42 6
5. Edina (5-1) 34 3
6. St. Michael-Albertville (5-1) 29 7
7. Maple Grove (4-2) 23 8
8. Roseville (5-1) 21 10
9. Lakeville North (4-2) 9 4
10. Rosemount (4-2) 5 NR
(tie) Cretin-Derham Hall (4-2) 5 NR
Others receiving votes: Blaine 4.

Class 1A Volleyball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/9/2017 10:56:02 PM

1. Mayer Lutheran (10) - 164
2. Tracy-Milroy-Balaton (1) - 155
3. Minneota - 134
4. Hayfield - 125
5. Bethlehem Academy - 116
6. Wadena-Deer Creek - 111
7. Caledonia - 99
8. Waterville-Elysian-Morristown - 83
9. Mabel-Canton - 60
10. Rush City - 46
Others Receiving Votes: Canby - 29, MACCRAY - 12
Teams Only Appearing On One Ballot - Wabasso, Carlton, Cook County

Class 2A Volleyball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/9/2017 10:55:42 PM

1. Maple Lake (16) - 240
2. Marshall - 219
3. Stewartville - 199
4. North Branch - 188
5. Rocori - 144
6. St. Cloud Cathedral - 131
7. SW Christian - 125
8. Hill-Murray - 112
9. Norwood-Young America - 69
10. Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta - 68
Others Receiving Votes: Kasson-Mantorville - 49, Holy Angels - 41, Concordia Academy - 33, Kenyon-Wanamingo - 22
Teams Only Appearing On One Ballot - Jackson County Central, Pipestone, Luverne, Annandale

Class 3A Volleyball Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/9/2017 10:55:25 PM

1. Eagan (9) - 135
2. Lakeville North - 126
3. Lakeville South - 114
4. Stillwater - 108
5. Hopkins - 92
6. Champlin Park - 88
7. Prior Lake - 74
8. Shakopee - 60
9. East Ridge - 49
10. Moorhead - 48
Others Receiving Votes: Minnetonka - 15, Northfield - 12
Teams Only Appearing On One Ballot - Eden Prairie, STMA, Maple Grove

Class 2A Girls Tennis Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/9/2017 10:55:01 PM

Final girls tennis rankings from the Minnesota Tennis Coaches Association

1 Edina
2 Mahtomedi
3 Hopkins
4 Rochester Mayo
5 Prior Lake
6 St. Cloud Tech
7 Wayzata
8 Minnetonka
9 Duluth East
tie 10 Roseville
tie 10 Elk River

1 Sophie Reddy (12) Edina
2 Nicole Copeland (10) Edina
3 Meagan Brown (12) Elk River
4 Maddie Suk (11) Hopkins
5 Aili Hietala (9) Duluth East
6 Samantha Nichols (12) Eagan
7 Abbie Kelm (12) Bemidji
8 Ellen Puzak (11) Minneapolis Southwest
9 Grace Riermann (12) Mahtomedi
10 Vunnisa Vu (7) Roseville

Class 1A Girls Tennis Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/9/2017 10:54:16 PM

Final girls tennis rankings from the Minnesota Tennis Coaches Association

1 Blake
2 Rochester Lourdes
3 Litchfield
4 Breck
5 Virginia
6 Osakis
7 Blue Earth Area
8 St. Peter
9 Jordan
10 Roseau

1 Lainey Axell (12) Blake
2 Arlina Shen (10) Blake
3 Katie Mulvey (11) Trinity at River Ridge
4 Clare Palen (10) Rochester Lourdes
5 Cindy Li (12) Winona Cotter
6 Shanna Kinny (11) Litchfield
7 Sophie Lynch (12) Holy Catholic Family
8 Natalie Allison (11) Rochester Lourdes
9 Rachel Lindrud (12) Mounds Park Academy
10 Renata Hernandez (11) St. James

Volleyball During The School Day At Kasson-Mantorville
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/7/2017 11:54:00 AM

I attended a special event Friday afternoon at Kasson-Mantorville High School. For the first time, the KoMet volleyball team hosted a match during the school day, with all 9-12 students in attendance at K-M's fantastic Home Federal Arena, which opened a year ago.

The match began at 1 p.m. and the place was packed. A large crowd from nearby Byron was on hand to cheer for the Bears as they took on the KoMets, and the excellent K-M band kept the joint jumping.

Dodge County Independent sports editor Chris Schad wrote an excellent story about how the Homecoming event came to be, and with his permission here it is ...

By Chris Schad
Sports Editor
Dodge County Independent

Homecoming week is an exciting time for any area high school. As many alumni and the community get involved to help celebrate their local traditions, there are several events that take place. From the coronation of the homecoming king and queen to the parade later in the afternoon, everything has a certain itinerary that has been tried and true over the years with the culmination of the Friday night football game.

However, innovation is key in any aspect to keep things new and exciting and Kasson-Mantorville High School has been making the effort to improve the process of celebrating their Homecoming.

Principal Trent Langemo has been at the forefront of this since his arrival prior to the 2015-16 school year making tweaks such as moving the coronation from Monday evening to during the pep fest on Friday afternoon, but he may have something truly outside of the box planned for this year: matinee volleyball.

The K-M volleyball team will begin what they hope is a new tradition on Friday afternoon when they host Byron at 1 p.m. as part of the school’s homecoming ceremony. The game will be treated as part of the normal school day and will feature the entire student body packed into Home Federal Arena.

“We’re always looking to build school spirit and find ways for kids to participate and engage in supporting their peers,” Langemo said of the concept. “After that first year, we had made some changes and as we were locking up the gym [after coronation] last year, I went up to [K-M activities director] Broc Threinen and told him that this was the next thing.”

A matinee volleyball match was an idea that Langemo carried over from his previous stop as a principal at Pine River-Backus High School. With the area being stricken by poverty, attendance at games was low as students couldn’t afford to drive back to school for the games, or pay to get into them. As a result, Langemo wanted to create an opportunity to get more students involved.

“It was about providing more opportunities to increase school spirit,” Langemo explained. “We wanted to provide a great experience for the players, too. It really came out of an idea to do something innovative and neat to get kids to come out to a game.”

As a result, Pine River-Backus became the first school to play two matinee games during the course of the year with the entire student body in attendance. One for the volleyball team during homecoming week and a basketball game during Snow Daze in the winter. The idea caught on as many other area schools hooked on to form a reciprocal schedule where each team played a home contest for their respective celebrations.

When Langemo brought the idea of bringing that concept to KM, Thrienen and K-M volleyball coach Adam VanOort were both on board.

“They had to explain it to me a little bit, but once I got it, I loved the idea,” VanOort said.

“Homecoming has always seemed to be just about football and the homecoming volleyball match kind of gets lost during the week. I thought it would be a nice way to share the spotlight and get some good excitement built up for volleyball as well as football.”

“It’s a cool opportunity for all of the kids that may have never been to a game or to get to a game,” Thrienen said. “Maybe you get five to 20 kids that think it’s pretty cool to see a classmate they sit next to in chemistry play volleyball and they haven’t been to a game before. They then go a couple more times and become more engaged in what’s going on in the school.”

To play a homecoming volleyball game is one aspect of the formula, but there also needs to be a second school willing to sacrifice a half day of class. However, Langemo and Threinen both got to work immediately to find an opponent.

“When we brought this up at our conference principal’s meeting, the looks on the table were kind of going ‘You’re doing what? That’s kind of crazy,” Langemo recalled. “You’re missing a half-day of school and I don’t take that for granted, but we wanted to be the innovators for this and see if it spreads.”

After a bit of salesmanship, Byron agreed to be the partner K-M needed to make it happen with the hope that Byron and many of the other area schools join in to form a series of homecoming volleyball games. While the logistics are something that should be worked out with the inaugural match on Friday, it’s definitely something that the school hopes becomes a permanent fixture of homecoming.

“I would love to have this as a tradition,” VanOort said. “I hope that everything goes well and the administration in both schools decide that this is something worth doing on a continuing basis. I think there are very few opportunities for the kids to get to play in an environment like the one we’ll have Friday and any opportunity that schools get to add a little more energy and school spirit into their homecoming is a good thing.”

Mabel-Canton Volleyball: Battle-Tested In Section 1
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/5/2017 7:18:34 PM

MABEL – Sometimes the universe spins in an awesome way. One of those instances was on Tuesday evening in the comfortably small and classically styled Mabel-Canton High School gymnasium. Mabel – located in southeast Minnesota’s bluff country and billed as “Rural America’s Steam Engine Capital” – has a population of 780 souls and you’d be hard-pressed to find even one of them who does not root vociferously for the Mabel-Canton Cougars.

On this evening, the Cougars volleyball team was hosting the Lions of nearby Spring Grove. And here are some universally awesome truths: Both head coaches are graduates of Spring Grove … one of them used to work as an assistant for the other at Mabel-Canton … and they’re both named Morken.

Lonnie Morken has been coaching volleyball at Mabel-Canton since 1994. Lions coach Kelsey Morken once was Lonnie’s assistant with the Cougars. If they are related it’s a distant kind of deal, one of those fifth-cousins twice-removed things. But they are certainly good friends and great coaching colleagues.

“(The rivalry between the teams has) been going on forever and Mabel’s always been the one we look to as a measuring stick, to compare ourselves to,” Kelsey said a few minutes after Mabel-Canton recorded a memorable 23-25, 25-20, 25-13, 20-25, 15-13 victory.

Had Spring Grove pulled out the win, the universe may have begun spinning in another direction. That’s because Mabel-Canton has absolutely owned this Southeast Conference rivalry. In fact, Spring Grove has not defeated the Cougars in volleyball for 21 years. That’s right, the last time that happened was 1996. Tuesday’s victory was Mabel-Canton’s 58th in a row over the Lions. Before this five-setter, the Lions had won only three sets against the Cougars in the previous 57 matches.

Morken’s career record is 622-118; he was inducted into the Minnesota Volleyball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2011 and he is one of only 11 coaches to record 600 career wins. His team has a 21-3 record this season and is ranked ninth in Class 1A. Since the start of the 2015 season the Cougars have a total record of 70-10.

Those kinds of head-turning facts may lead you to believe that the Cougars have been steady participants in the state tournament. But they hail from Section 1, which is a stronghold of quality teams in lots of sports, and the Mabel-Canton volleyball team has played at state just twice, in 2000 and 2001. They have been defeated in nine other section championship matches since Morken took over as coach.

All but one of those section final losses have been to Bethlehem Academy, which won state titles in 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2014 and was the state runner-up four times between 2002 and 2015.

“Some years they beat us in four or five sets (for the section title) and then swept everybody at state,” Morken said.

Four Section 1 teams are among the current Class 1A top 10: Bethlehem Academy is No. 3, Hayfield is No. 5, Caledonia is No. 8 and Mabel-Canton is No. 9.

“We want to get our kids playing at the highest possible level,” Morken said. “There are some great coaches down here, and a lot of it is tradition. Our little kids want to grow up and be good at volleyball.”

Mabel-Canton’s enrollment in grades nine through 12 is only 72 students (Spring Grove has 101). Ninth-graders can play important roles, as evidenced by Cougars setter Kenidi McCabe, the first freshman to play that position since Morken became the coach. The Cougars’ varsity roster consists of two seniors (Savannah Slafter and Dakota Delaney), three juniors, three sophomores and five ninth-graders.

“We typically end up having a lot of younger kids playing and we try to get them skilled up at a young age,” Morken said. “We try to put kids in positions where they can succeed.”

Tuesday’s loss gave Spring Grove a record of 19-5. Kelsey Morken was proud of her team, which bounced back to defeat Houston on Thursday.

“Section 1 is unreal,” she said. “Even if we do have a great game and we get past someone like Mabel (in the section playoffs), we’ll still have teams like Caledonia, Wabasha, Hayfield, Bethlehem Academy, just a ton of teams that are awesome.”

This much is certain: Whoever represents Section 1 at the state tournament will be tested and tough.

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

Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

Nine-Man Football Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/4/2017 4:10:24 PM

School Total Points Prv
1. Spring Grove (4) (5-0) 66 1
2. Cromwell (2) (5-0) 61 2
3. Houston (1) (5-0) 57 3
4. Stephen-Argyle (5-0) 41 4
5. Nevis (5-0) 37 5
6. Verndale (5-0) 33 T6
7. Red Rock Central (5-0) 24 8
(tie) Grand Meadow (4-1) 24 9
(tie) Cleveland (4-1) 24 T6
10. Sleepy Eye St. Mary's (5-0) 13 10
Others receiving votes: North Woods 3, Edgerton-Ellsworth 2.

Class 1A Football Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/4/2017 4:10:07 PM

School Total Points Prv
1. Rushford-Peterson (4) (5-0) 44 1
2. Wabasso (5-0) 39 2
3. Braham (5-0) 36 3
4. Goodhue (5-0) 35 5
5. Minneota (5-0) 32 4
6. BOLD (1) (5-0) 30 6
7. Ottertail Central (5-0) 17 NR
8. Ada-Borup (5-0) 16 T7
9. Mayer Lutheran (5-0) 11 9
(tie) Upsala-Swanville (5-0) 11 10
Others receiving votes: Mahnomen 3, Blooming Prairie 1.

Class 2A Football Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/4/2017 4:09:48 PM

School Total Points Prv
1. Caledonia (6) (5-0) 60 1
2. Barnesville (5-0) 51 2
(tie) Minneapolis North (5-0) 51 3
4. Hawley (5-0) 41 4
5. Redwood Valley (5-0) 33 6
(tie) Triton (4-1) 33 5
7. Minnewaska (4-1) 14 8
8. Pipestone (4-1) 13 7
9. Paynesville (4-1) 11 NR
(tie) Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City (4-1) 11 9
Others receiving votes: Maple River 6, Crookston 5, Pillager 1.

Class 3A Football Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/4/2017 4:09:30 PM

School Total Points Prv
1. St. Croix Lutheran (6) (5-0) 69 1
2. Rochester Lourdes (5-0) 59 3
3. Pierz (1) (5-0) 57 2
4. Annandale (5-0) 51 4
5. Sibley East (5-0) 39 6
6. Spectrum (5-0) 32 7
7. Fairmont (4-1) 24 8
8. Glencoe-Silver Lake (4-1) 23 NR
9. Perham (4-1) 17 5
10. Esko (4-1) 9 9
Others receiving votes: Jackson County Central 3, Jordan 1, Brooklyn Center 1.

Class 4A Football Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/4/2017 4:09:09 PM

School Total Points Prv
1. Winona (8) (5-0) 88 1
2. Marshall (5-0) 76 2
3. Benilde-St. Margaret's (1) (5-0) 73 3
4. Holy Angels (5-0) 59 5
5. Hutchinson (5-0) 58 4
6. Rocori (5-0) 48 6
7. South St. Paul (4-1) 27 9
8. Cloquet (5-0) 26 8
9. Kasson-Mantorville (5-0) 21 10
10. Zimmerman (5-0) 8 NR
Others receiving votes: Waseca 5, Mound-Westonka 5, SMB-Wolfpack 1.

Class 5A Football Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/4/2017 4:08:46 PM

School Total Points Prv
1. Elk River (6) (5-0) 78 1
2. Owatonna (2) (5-0) 73 2
3. Chaska (5-0) 62 6
4. Robbinsdale Cooper (5-0) 58 4
5. Moorhead (4-1) 39 7
6. Northfield (5-0) 32 8
(tie) Apple Valley (4-1) 32 3
8. Mankato West (4-1) 28 9
9. Coon Rapids (4-1) 17 10
10. Andover (4-1) 11 NR
Others receiving votes: Mahtomedi 7, Irondale 3.

Class 6A Football Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/4/2017 4:08:27 PM

School Total Points Prv
1. Eden Prairie (7) (5-0) 70 1
2. Minnetonka (5-0) 61 2
3. Edina (5-0) 58 3
4. Lakeville North (4-1) 45 5
5. Totino-Grace (4-1) 44 7
6. Centennial (4-1) 30 8
7. St. Michael-Albertville (4-1) 28 4
8. Maple Grove (3-2) 17 6
9. Blaine (3-2) 12 NR
10. Roseville (4-1) 11 NR
Others receiving votes: Rosemount 6, East Ridge 2, Cretin-Derham Hall 1.

Class 1A Girls Tennis Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/4/2017 4:07:33 PM

1 Blake
2 Rochester Lourdes
3 Litchfield
4 Breck
5 Virginia
6 Jordan
7 Osakis
8 Holy Family Catholic
9 Mounds Park Academy
10 Lake City

1 Lainey Axell (12) Blake
2 Arlina Shen (10) Blake
3 Katie Mulvey (11) Trinity at River Ridge
4 Clare Palen (10) Rochester Lourdes
5 Cindy Li (12) Winona Cotter
6 Shanna Kinny (11) Litchfield
7 Sophie Lynch (12) Holy Catholic Family
8 Natalie Allison (11) Rochester Lourdes
9 Rachel Lindrud (12) Mounds Park Academy
10 Renata Hernandez (11) St. James

Class 2A Girls Tennis Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/4/2017 4:06:33 PM

1 Edina
2 Mahtomedi
3 Hopkins
4 Rochester Mayo
5 Prior Lake
6 St. Cloud Tech
7 Wayzata
8 Minnetonka
9 Duluth East
tie 10 Roseville
tie 10 Elk River

1 Sophie Reddy (12) Edina
2 Nicole Copeland (10) Edina
3 Meagan Brown (12) Elk River
4 Maddie Suk (11) Hopkins
5 Aili Hietala (9) Duluth East
6 Samantha Nichols (12) Eagan
7 Abbie Kelm (12) Bemidji
8 Ellen Puzak (11) Minneapolis Southwest
9 Grace Riermann (12) Mahtomedi
10 Sam Stephenson (12) Wayzata

Class 1A Girls Swimming and Diving Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/4/2017 4:05:53 PM

1. Hutchinson
2. Visitation
3. Blake
4. Delano
5. Sartell
6. Faribault
7. Breck
8. Monticello
9. Northfield
10. Detroit Lakes

Class 2A Girls Swimming and Diving Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/4/2017 4:05:34 PM

1. Edina
2. Minnetonka
3. Eden Prairie
4. Wayzata
5. Rosemount
6. Stillwater
7. Lakeville North
8. Prior Lake
9. Eagan
10. St. Michael-Albertville

A New Concept In Classroom Learning: Why We Play
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/3/2017 3:17:47 PM

ST. CHARLES – As the class period ended Tuesday morning, an excited eighth-grader said to a friend, “That was the fastest class ever!”

That kind of comment is a sure sign that something positive was accomplished. In this case, it was a new kind of class based on the MSHSL’s Why We Play program. Why We Play is an initiative devoted to promoting the educational purpose of sports. It was conceived in 2012 after several Minnesota athletic administrators met for a series of discussions on a book by former NFL player Joe Ehrmann, “InSideOut Coaching: How Sports Can Transform Lives.”

The concepts of Why We Play normally begin in schools with activities directors. They pass lessons and concepts on to coaches, who then talk with their athletes about them. In St. Charles, the classroom has become a setting for Why We Play.

Scott McCready is the activities director, baseball coach and a math teacher in St. Charles. He has been heavily involved in Why We Play, including during a four-year term on the MSHSL board of directors; he was the board president in 2014-15. He turned Why We Play into a class this year, teaching all the eighth graders in four nine-week courses.

With an opportunity to add an exploratory course, McCready and principal Ben Bernard decided to teach Why We Play, becoming the first school in Minnesota to do so.

During Tuesday’s class, which ran from 9:45 to 10:30 a.m., the topic was “a mutually accountable work ethic.” As the kids broke down into small discussion groups, McCready said, “Describe to each other what that means. Three minutes … go!”

McCready made a few points to guide the discussion. “If one person picks up trash in the locker room every day and no one else helps, is that mutual accountability? What about a person who’s always late for the bus? Is that being mutually accountable to the team?”

As the discussion time ended, each group announced what they talked about, with points like …

--“Everybody is responsible for what the team does.”

--“Everybody does an equal amount of work.”

--“If you’re a teammate, you work with your team.”

McCready is a 1986 St. Charles graduate who went to Luther College in Iowa before returning to his hometown to teach and coach. His wife Anne teaches fourth grade.

“In the class we’re kind of piecing things together day by day, week by week,” Scott said later in the day. “With this class, we can’t just gear it towards ‘our team’ because some kids aren’t on a team. But we can generalize it so they can think about how they contribute to their team, which can be their family, a church group, 4H and other things. These things all work in all areas of their lives.”

McCready said teaching the course to eighth-graders is important so the students can bring some of the concepts to their high school teams, whether that be athletics, student council or other endeavors.

The curriculum includes having the students write about what they’re learning. McCready will hang onto their work as a measure of how they feel about their youth team experiences, using that information to help educate parents.

He recently Tweeted something one of the students turned in as part of an assignment. It read, “Society makes teens think that they have to excel in that sport to be in that sport. That’s dumb. Kids should do sports for fun.”

“I’m trying to gather some data for preseason meetings in the future,” he said. “With a sample size of 70 (eighth-grade) kids, I can tell parents, ‘This is what they’re saying about you in the car after their games.’ I can take those snippets, put them together and hand it out to the parents; ‘This is what your kids are telling me. What can we do to make it better for them?’ ”

During Tuesday’s class, the students were asked about the differences between simply being on a team and being a teammate. They wrote their answers on a poster-sized piece of paper in front of the classroom.

Under “On the Team” the responses included “focused on yourself” and “to be on the team means to do something by yourself in the corner.”

Under “Teammate” they wrote: “caring and helpful” … “thrive for common goal” … “help others get better” and “equal amount of chances for others.”

“I’m thrilled to get every kid exposed to this even if they’re not part of a specific program,” McCready said later. “What does it mean to be a good teammate, a good person?”

The effects of the class may not be seen immediately, but there is no hurry in such important matters.

“It might be 10 years from now,” McCready said, “before anybody will come back and say, ‘Hey that was pretty cool.’ ”

It will be well worth the wait.

Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

Three Days, Three Games: A Minnesota Football Journey
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 10/1/2017 1:17:26 PM

My plans didn’t include seeing three of the second-ranked football teams in Minnesota, but that’s how it worked out on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I watched three games in three very distinct settings, beginning with a giant suburban marching band singing an a cappella version of a song about a fish sandwich and ending with a four-man band performing with guitars and drums after a game in a small prairie town.

There were big-screen TVs and luxury suites, huge plays and little moments, an errant reference to the Sons of Norway and many, many reasons to smile.

Thursday/ No. 2 6A Minnetonka at Lakeville South

6:40: The Lakeville South marching band walks in formation on the track to get in position for the pregame show, as all members sing the McDonald’s Filet-O-Fish song with great gusto.

6:58: As the game begins, fans are browsing for dinner options at the concession stand and three other locations: Baldy’s BBQ, Maui Wowi and Mike’s Mini Donuts.

7:15: The band, now seated (but not doing much sitting) in the bleachers, belts out a splendid version of Chicago’s “25 or 6 to 4.”

7:26: The first points are scored when Minnetonka’s Aaron Syverson throws 19 yards to Mitch Klass.

7:49: Lakeville South defensive players gather on a bench, watching replays of their previous series on a 40-inch TV monitor. There is another 40-inch TV for the offense; coaches run the clicker as plays move forward and back.

8:00: Halftime comes with unbeaten Minnetonka leading Lakeville South 28-0.

8:09: A gentleman exits one of the portable restrooms available to fans and exclaims, “It’s interesting to do that in the dark.” He clearly doesn’t attend enough outdoor high school sporting events.

8:13: A veteran official, working as the back judge tonight, sees me walking past a storage space that is serving as the officials’ halftime break room. He says, “Hey John! You didn’t get a picture of us before the game, one of the finest crews in Minnesota!” I sheepishly explained that I arrived too late to snap a pregame photo of the crew, which is usually Tweeted with the line: “One of the finest officiating crews in Minnesota has been assigned to this game.” My bad.

8:20: With the halftime show over, a member of the Cougars dance team is being treated by an athletic trainer for a lower-body injury.

8:43: The fourth quarter begins under running time with the score 35-7.

9:00: The game ends with Minnetonka winning 42-7.

Friday/ No. 7 4A Waseca at No. 2 4A Marshall

1:05: The first stop on the day’s road trip will be Fulda, three hours from home. Lunch will be consumed from behind the wheel, with the first option being McDonald’s in Jordan. There is a big backlog of vehicles in the drive-through lanes, so an audible is called and lunch is procured a few miles down Highway 169 in Belle Plaine (McDonald’s? Yes. Fish sandwich? No).

4:00: Fulda is holding a major fundraiser for Hills-Beaver Creek’s Trenton Bass, who suffered a spinal injury early in the football season. Before the Raiders host Hills-Beaver Creek in nine-man football, visitors will enjoy a meal in the school cafeteria (with free-will donations), bid on a large number of silent auction items and buy tickets for other items that will be raffled. I’ll miss the game because I’ll be in Marshal, but everybody knows it’s going to be a great night.

5:00: Driving 47 miles from Fulda, I arrive in Marshall and Southwest Minnesota State University’s world-class Mattke Field, which is also the home of the Marshall Tigers.

6:24: As the teams warm up, I’m standing on the field with Waseca activities director Joe Hedervare. Waseca is a long way from Marshall but the schools have developed a great sporting rivalry. Joe looks around at the artificial turf, the big covered grandstand that includes luxury suites and says, “What a great place. We’re happy to drive two and a half hours to play here.”

6:32: I snap the traditional “finest crew” photo of the officials. One of them says to me, “Weren’t you in Fulda earlier today?” Yes indeed.

6:57: As Marshall’s Jacob Monzon kicks off, his photo, name and number appear on the giant videoboard behind the north end zone.

7:05: The first penalty of the game is called and referee Derrick Jenniges turns on his microphone to announce the violation to the crowd. Again, this is a big-time venue.

7:21: As Lakeville South did one night earlier, members of the Marshall offense view video on the bench. This time it’s not a 40-inch TV but an iPad, held by head coach Terry Bahlmann.

7:31: Waseca’s Malik Willingham catches an eight-yard touchdown pass from Hunter Rodriguez. It’s the first time an opponent has scored against the Tigers this season.

8:10: With Marshall in front 27-6 at halftime, the always outstanding Marshall marching band takes the field. The music begins with a cello solo (a CELLO SOLO!) by Anni Lecy. Thus begins an amazing performance.

9:20: Trey Lance runs eight yards for the game’s final touchdown as Marshall moves to 5-0 with a 34-13 victory.

9:23: I receive a Twitter message from a Fulda native, thanking me for visiting his old hometown. The sender is Trent Kirchner, co-director of player personnel with the Seattle Seahawks. The funds raised for Trenton Bass total almost $11,000.

Saturday/ Sleepy Eye at No. 2 1A Wabasso

2:04: With kickoff 56 minutes away, “The Boys of Fall” by Kenny Chesney is the first song played on the sound system. As the officials walk on the field, I stop them for a photo. The white cap is Derrick Jenniges, who worked the Waseca-Marshall game. I remark that he’s wearing glasses today, unlike the previous night. Jokes ensue.

2:41: Trixie and Thumper, the Wabasso Rabbits mascots, arrive to the delight of little kids.

3:00: Kickoff.

3:08: Cooper Taylor gets the first of what will be many Rabbits points, scoring on a 19-yard run.

3:27: PA announcer Dean Fischer wishes Gary Hindt a happy 72nd birthday. Hindt coached Wabasso wrestlers for 49 years until retiring after last season and will enter the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in April. After the game Gary tells me, “This is my second 36th birthday!”

3:46: A defensive play call, hollered from the Rabbits bench, begins with this: “Money! Money! Money!”

4:15: There is no microphone for the referee today, but it’s not really needed. Jenniges can be heard from the stands as he announces penalties.

4:16: Wabasso leads 42-0 at halftime and Homecoming royalty is introduced. In the press box I am informed, “John, we’ve got a smorgasbord down here.” The local convenience store has provided a fine array of appetizers.

4:47: Sleepy Eye’s Carter Tauer scores on a 26-yard run, making the score 49-7.

4:51: Fischer announces that there will be live music after the game: “Attention fans, the band Sons of Norway, excuse me, Sons of Nowhere will perform after the game next to the concession stand.”

5:10: During running time in the fourth quarter of Wabbaso’s 69-13 victory, winners of a raffle (the prizes include a 55-inch TV) are announced. Funds go toward the Vicky Jenniges Scholarship Fund; she was 54 when she died in 2014. The referee, Derrick Jenniges, is a 1998 Wabasso graduate who teaches first grade and is the boys basketball and baseball coach at Westbrook-Walnut Grove.

Derrick is Vicky’s son.

5:48: As a crowd listens to the talented Sons of Nowhere – who are four Wabasso students -- I point the car for home, once again grateful for all the wonderful things I see.

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

Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn

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