|Wednesday, November 28, 2001|
|Craigs Corner 11/26/01 - 12/02/01|
|Friday, November 30th, 2001|
There are some tremendous student-athletes in our area high schools. Emphasis on the student! The evidence of their presence on area football teams came out in the form of the 2001 Academic All-State teams.
Luke Hansen of Hillcrest and Ben Aakre of Underwood both made the Nine-Man team, as did Verndale's Chad Christenson, a Pheasant Conference opponent.
Stephan Moje and Luke Stewart of Otter Tail Central both made the Class 2A team, as did Pelican Rapids player Josh Herbold.
Of course, the Hillcrest football team won the State Academic Championship with a 3.73 GPA. What a great accomplishment for these young men. Congratulations guys!
Wednesday, November 28th, 2001
I'm feeling bad today for Ann Williams and her Lady Spartans. The team that won the NJCAA Divison III National Championship in March is gone, replaced by the harsh reality of the 2001-2002 season.
That reality consists of many pieces. First of all, Ann recruited as hard as she ever has, knowing that only one player (Naomi Moerke) was returning from her championship team, but for whatever reason, several of her recruits went elsewhere and some of them aren't even playing basketball this winter.
Secondly, the senior recruiting class around the area was a particularly weak one, making for slim pickin's for college coaches.
Thirdly, three of her recruits aren't playing for various reasons; one quit school, one didn't want to make the time commitment, one is awaiting surgery for a medical condition that won't allow her to play (even though she wants to).
Fourth, the Spartan training room resembles a MASH unit right now. Liz Flinck has mono and won't be able to play until after the first of the year; MerriAnne Werder is suffering from bruised ribs and probably will miss another two to three weeks while they heal; Tracy Ward has an ankle injury and is hoping to play on Saturday when the Spartans go to Mankato.
All of this added up to a difficult night in Wahpeton on Tuesday. Ann's team entered the gym with only five players available for the game. That means: No one can foul out or get hurt! Yeah, right.
Early in the game Carrie Wilkinson was thrown to the floor in a battle for the ball, banging her head against the wood surface. Thankfully, after a brief break, Wilkinson showed she was a 'gamer' and continued the battle. She had no problems the rest of the night.
The foul situation became a bit tenuous when Rhonda Brekke picked up three quick fouls. Brekke, who had fouled out at Willmar in the opener against Ridgewater, fouled out again. Over 12 minutes remained in the game when the Lady Spartans lost her. That meant it was a 5 on 4 situation. It got worse. Stacy Tenneson picked up her fifth personal foul with just under four minutes to play, giving the Lady Wildcats a two-player advantage. A power play is great in hockey, not great in basketball.
Give the players credit. Not once did they show signs of giving up, throwing in the towel, or walking away from their commitment to this team. They fought until the final buzzer. In fact, when Moerke was fouled as time expired attempting a three-point shot to try to get the margin down to 71 points, the refs weren't going to have her shoot her free throws saying they didn't matter. Ann pressed the point saying "the rules say she shoots them. If we're bending the rules then why didn't you let us have more fouls per player or just let the girls who fouled out continue to play?" She shot them.
My hope now for Ann and her team is that they can get healthy and be ready to compete in the Northern Division of the MCCC after the Christmas break. Their first division competition comes up on the range January 11th and 12th. They have some decent athletes and will compete hard with anyone. They are going to need to encourage each other through the next month and grow close as a team, because it will get tougher for them before it gets easier. Show your support by showing up for their home games and cheering these girls on. Their first home game is next Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. against Moorhead State's junior varsity. Hang in there girls. I was proud of the way you hung in there at Wahpeton on Tuesday night and more importantly, so was your coach. You showed her a lot in the effort you put forth in a seemingly hopeless situation. That type of attitude and determination will carry you a long way in life.
|Monday, November 19, 2001|
|Craigs Corner 11/19/01 - 11/25/01|
|Saturday, November 24th, 2001|
STATE CHAMPS! WAY TO GO HILLCREST COMETS!!
The public is invited to a Welcome Home Championship Celebration at Hillcrest Lutheran Academy, Sunday night at 7:00 p.m.
Once again the Pheasant Conference has proven how tough it is in 9-man football. This championship game marked the sixth time in the last ten years that a team from the conference has played in the Prep Bowl. Verndale was the last conference team to win the title, in 1997. The Comets were the most recent conference team to appear in the championship game, losing to Cromwell in 1998, 40-22.
A side note, Josh Amberson's father, Mark, played for Coach Risbrudt in his first two years as coach, 1976 and 1977. The Comets lost to Deer Creek 57-14 and 20-0 in the state championship games those seasons. I believe Lynn Peterson, the outstanding high school basketball coach at Staples-Motley, was the coach of those Deer Creek football teams.
The Comets have played in three Prep Bowls, including the very first one in 1982. Since that season, all of the state championship games have been played at the Metrodome.
Detroit Lakes, the Section 4A champions, won the 4A state title in thrilling fashion Friday. Kicker Matt Misson ended a rollercoaster battle with a 22-yard field goal with just four seconds to play in the game as the Lakers beat Mankato East 36-34. Congratulations to Coach Flint Motschenbacher, his staff and his team. DL runs an outstanding football program. This was their first Prep Bowl appearance since 1997 and their first title since 1995.
Thursday, November 22nd, 2001
HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!
The Hillcrest family is celebrating in the Twin Cities as their football team prepares to play for the 9-Man State Title at eight o'clock Friday morning in the Metrodome.
The Hillcrest football team has won the Minnesota Academic State Championship Award for demonstrating academic excellence. It's the third straight year that the Comets have won the award. The combined GPA of the top twenty student-athletes on the varsity squad is 3.73, best in the state among 2001 football teams.
The Minnesota Basketball News magazine has listed Battle Lake as the third-rated girls basketball team in Class A. The Battlers were Section 5A runnersup last year. Fosston and Hancock are first and second in the season opening poll.
Megan Ronhovde, now a junior at West Central Area High School, is listed in the magazine's Top Ten Players ini the state. Ronhovde averaged 17.6 points per game and 9 rebounds per game her sophomore season. Fosston's Kelly Roysland, who may be the best female athlete in the state, is listed in the Fab Five by MBBN.
Battle Lake senior Tori Ehlert is listed among the State's Elite Players by MBBN. Joining her are juniors Courtney Brewer and JoLynn Thielke from Hancock, seniors Katie Winkelman and Dani Heintzelman of Morris Area, Kerby Johnson of Wadena-Deer Creek, Chelsea Hendricks, a senior from Alexandria, and Jess Holicky a senior from Fergus Falls High School.
The Minnesota Basketball News is an excellent publication, covering the state high school basketball season thoroughly. For new subscriptions you can call them at (320)243-7460 or mail to PO Box 222, Paynesville, MN, 56362. The cost is $19 for a year subscription. The magazine is printed November to May.
Wednesday, November 21st, 2001
The Spartan basketball teams opened their seasons last night in Willmar. Both teams were shorthanded for different reasons.
The Lady Spartans, who had that phenomenal season last year, surviving injuries, fighting through repeated adversities, to win the NJCAA Division III Title, are once again struggling with numbers. Ann Williams had only six players at her disposal in Willmar on Tuesday night. Tracy Ward suffered a leg injury in a scrimmage prior to the opener and Liz Flinck is out with mono. Erica Pederson, who was going to play, is unable to play because of a pending surgery and two other girls decided not to participate.
The Spartan men were without Justin Arneson, Michael Evans and David Krull. Arneson is most likely headed to a Division I school to play football on a scholarship. Arne is going to visit West Virginia on December first and if he likes it, he will probably accept a full-ride offer to attend school there beginning next semester. He would then be a part of their spring football program. Apparently, the school has also said that he would be able to play baseball his second year, following his senior season of football. Arneson is a three-sport athlete who played a lot of minutes for the Spartan basketball team last year. Evans, a post player from Minneapolis, played his freshman season with Retz' boys, but after playing football this fall, has decided to delay his sophomore basketball season to next year. He will be coming back to play another year of football, since he didn't play last year, and will elect to play his second season of basketball next winter. Since the Spartans will be losing Ian McVey and Justin Retzlaff, that might be a nice boost to the post area. Krull, who was a member of the team as a freshman last year, is going to spend this year as a student-assistant to Coaches Retzlaff, Rick Odden and Aaron Grove.
Monday, November 19th, 2001
High School girls basketball jamboree's are scheduled for this week, starting on Tuesday night in Evansville. In fact, some teams have already tasted some jamboree action.
On Tuesday night the Little 8 Conference girls basketball teams will meet in Evansville for their Conference Jamboree. The action starts with Rothsay facing Hillcrest Lutheran Academy at six p.m., followed by Underwood against Ashby at 6:45 p.m. The 7:30 game will pit Parkers Prairie against Battle Lake and the 8:15 matchup features Henning versus Brandon-Evansville. In a jamboree, the teams play a half of basketball.
Rothsay played a half of basketball against Northland-Remer on Saturday at the Long Prairie Jamboree and coach Troy Davis was pleased. Davis makes no bones about it, he feels that his Tigers will be the most improved team in the Little 8 Conference this season. If they play like they did in outscoring Northland-Remer 34-16 in a half of basketball, they certainly will be!
Battle Lake competed in the Henning jamboree on Saturday and beat Perham 44-23 in their half of basketball, outscoring the Yellowjackets 30-10 in the second quarter. A 30 point quarter is really amazing in high school basketball! Tori Ehlert should make a run for Little 8 MVP this season and she scored 18 points in that half on Saturday.
The Otters will host their jamboree on Saturday, November 24th, starting at 2:30 p.m. when the Fergus Falls 'B' team hosts the Pelican Rapids 'B' team. At 3:15, West Central Area will play Moorhead. The four o'clock game features Montevideo against Pelican Rapids. At 4:45 p.m. Rothsay plays the Fergus Falls Maroon squad, followed by the Minnewaska Area against the Otters at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are three dollars for adults and two dollars for students.
|Monday, November 12, 2001|
|Craigs Corner 11/12/01 - 11/18/01|
|Friday, November 16th, 2001|
What tremendous execution on both sides of the ball by the Hillcrest Comets. Their 34-18 win over Leroy-Ostrander at the Metrodome was a total team effort.
The Comets showed how many weapons they have at their disposal. Led once again by senior quarterback Steve Moline who threw two TD passes and ran for three scores, the Hillcrest offense executed their offensive game plan to near perfection. Moline completed 17 passes to six different receivers. Luke Hansen, Tom Scheid, J.P. Stender and Nick Hansen all came up with big catches. Hansen and Scheid made some very athletic receptions.
Titus Brue ran the ball hard, gaining 50 yards while Moline ran for 70.
Defensively the Comets held Ben Adams, who had gained over 200 yards on the ground in each of the past two weeks, to 50 yards rushing on 17 attempts. They also picked off three passes, two by Luke Hansen and one by Brent Christopherson.
Their opening drive of the second half was the beginning of the end for the Cardinals. Hillcrest went 61 yards on 13 plays, keeping the ball for nearly four-and-a-half minutes. Nick Hansen made a big catch on third and 22, gaining 26 yards and setting up a two-yard run by Moline.
Coach Richard Risbrudt's team has been incredible over the past eight games. This team, which started out the season 1-4, is now 9-4. The turn around can be attributed, in part, to a change in offensive philosophy. The Comets have run almost exclusively out of the shotgun, where Moline has thrived. Jake Carr has been calling most of the plays and that has enabled Coach Risbrudt to do more evaluation of what's happening on the field, and make immediate adjustment. That combination, along with the inspiring enthusiasm of Dean Erkenbrack has made for a very successful coaching team.
The ability of this senior dominated group to adjust to what's happening on the field has been a key also. It's one thing to have a coaching staff recognize what needs to be done and relay that information to the team, but quite another to see a team take that information and make the adjustments in the heat of the battle. Wins over three ranked teams in the past four weeks is evidence enough for me. No matter who wins Saturday, top-ranked Stephen-Argyle or unranked Ada-Borup, they will have their hands full with the Comets.
Wednesday, November 14th, 2001
Perhaps you heard the radio interview on KBRF today with Paul Ridgeway, the Chairman of the Keep the Twins at Home effort.
Ridgeway encouraged all Twins fans to get involved in this grass roots effort to organize and raise the volume of Minnesota Twins supporters and contraction opponents throughout the Midwest. The effort provides a focal point for people to make their voices heard and show Major League Baseball that contraction must be stopped.
Ridgeway is expecting thousands of citizens for a rally at two o'clock Sunday afternoon in the Metrodome's East Parking Lot. A number of things will happen before that, though.
Keep the Twins at Home's goal is to obtain tens of thousands of signatures on petitions in support of the Twins. Red, white and blue "Twins Fans Vans" departed the Metrodome on Tuesday and are making stops across the state to gather signatures on the petitions. The vans will be on the road between now and December 1st.
Fans can sound off to Commissioner Selig and sign a petition by going on line to www.keepthetwins.com
The website also contains downloadable petitions that fans can take to work, to school, to their hockey game, etc., to get even more signatures. All petitions will be sent to Commissioner Selig and other baseball officials.
Please take a moment to visit the website and sign the petition. If the Twins mean anything to you, take the time to do this.
Monday, November 12th, 2001
Just a few rambling thoughts for you this time around. Haven't had much time to catch my breath, let alone gather my thoughts!
Mark McGwire is retiring. Big Mac gave us quite a thrill in 1998, chasing, catching and surpassing Roger Maris and hitting a remarkable 70 homeruns. Barry Bonds may have broken that record this past summer, but the summer of '98 will always be a very special memory for baseball fans like me. I think McGwire made the right decision. He just isn't healthy enough to endure the rigors of a 162-game regular season schedule. He made an unselfish decision, referring to the fact that the Cardinals could use his contract money to acquire a free agent who could step right in and help the team. Jason Giambi? What a fit that would be in that potent lineup! McGwire is a true professional. He carries himself well, respects the game and is an excellent ambassador for baseball. 583 homers, fifth all time. WOW! A class act. Thanks Big Mac.
Way to go Schu! Coach Gary Schuler received a much-deserved honor on Saturday when he was inducted into the Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. Schu will coach his 500th career win sometime early this season. That's impressive, but it's not what this man is all about or what he'll be remembered most for after his coaching days are over. He cares about the kids he works with. On the basketball court, in the classroom, in the assistant principal's office. Young teachers and administrators can learn from him. They should. Like McGwire, a class act, all the way.
The ride is over in Underwood. What a fall!! The volleyball and football teams both played in state tournament games. So many fans followed both teams faithfully. What a great thrill for the students. Imagine the conversations around the Ross household the past few months. Diane and Chuck have to be pinching themselves to see if this really happened!! Never before have the first two-plus months of the school year went this fast for them! Congratulations Rockets. Chuck didn't get much of a break either. He's the girls basketball coach at Underwood and practice started today!
Nick Hansen wanted to play on the Hillcrest football field one more time. You can't blame him. Nick was an outstanding football player as a freshman on the Comets state playoff team, but after repeated back injuries, had to put an end to his football career during his sophomore season. He brought that career out of mothballs on Saturday and was outstanding. Twenty tackles, four pass receptions, one touchdown and a team victory. The Comets advance to the 9-Man semifinals at the Metrodome Friday morning at eight o'clock. The big question now is ... does he suit up again? That's a question only Nick can answer. If he decides to do it, he takes a risk that could cost him his basketball career, also. Not to mention an injury with possible lifetime impact. Nick is a competitor. He's also a very bright young man. He knows the risks ... he knows the rewards ... he knows what he needs to do ... and he'll be making the decision based on all of that information. Play or not, Nick is a big part of the Hillcrest football team. His presence at practice and on the sidelines at games has been felt by his teammates throughout the season. For them to be able to play alongside him last week had to be a great inspiration. Go Comets.
To the Underwood volleyball team: MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! A 30-win season, culminating with an opportunity to play at the Xcel Energy Center in the Class A State Tournament. Their three seniors, Jen Glesne, Amber Peasley and Kali Mark, had as a goal over the past several years, a state tournament berth. They've been working toward this end for years. They played so well as a team throughout the season and won some exciting matches on their way.
To the Underwood football team: WELL DONE! Nobody gave you much of a chance at the start of the season to make the state playoffs. Your coach, community and fellow students are very proud of what you have accomplished. You can be, too!
Now, the Spartans head to Iowa for their first-ever appearance in a bowl game. They will play Ellsworth Community College of Ellsworth, Iowa at noon on Sunday in the Pepsi-Cola Bowl at the Unidome in Cedar Falls. This improbable occurrence came about when FFCC stunned the state's top-ranked team, Rochester, 14-13 in the State Championship game of the Minnesota Community College Conference. This remarkable turn around after an 0-3 start is truly one of the top stories of this tremendous fall sports season in our area. Good Luck Spartans!
|Monday, November 5, 2001|
|Craigs Corner 11/05/01 - 11/11/01|
|This is a big day for two area 9-Man football teams. Hillcrest Lutheran Academy hosts Hills-Beaver Creek, while Underwood travel to Leroy for a game against Leroy-Ostrander, as the state quarterfinal playoffs continue.|
Stephen-Argyle dominated Cromwell 28-0 and Ada-Borup defeated Tower-Soudan 23-14 in the other quarterfinals in 9-Man, played on Friday night. The two winners of today's games will clash next Friday at 8:00 a.m. in the Metrodome, in the state semifinals.
Area fans, of course, are hoping for a third meeting between the Comets and the Rockets. They played to two thrilling conclusions during the regular season with the Rockets winning on a late TD in the opening week of the season, and later winning an overtime contest at Hillcrest.
Some other area teams are into the semi's in their respective classes. Detroit Lakes jumped out to a 13-0 lead on the way to a 27-14 win over Holy Angels Academy in 4A. The other 4A contests turned out like this, Mankato East beat St. Thomas Academy 33-7, Red Wing topped Chisago Lakes 38-6 and St. Michael-Albertville downed Hutchinson 39-21.
In 5A, Alexandria stunned Cretin-Derham Hall 15-13, as the Cardinals stayed unbeaten. The last two champs, both lost. Eden Prairie fell to Hastings 24-10. Blaine topped Maple Grove 22-7 and Rochester John Marshall won an overtime battle with Roseville 21-20.
The Section 6AA champion Breckenridge Cowboys advanced to the semi's with a 32-0 win over Lake of the Woods. Other 2A games saw Breck defeat Lewiston-Altura 21-7, Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City trounced Hawley 54-0 and Windom held off Waterville-Elysian-Morristown 17-13.
The 3A quarterfinals went this way: Becker blanked Roseau 31-0, Greenway topped Albany 35-28, Jackson County Central defeated BOLD 20-7 and Lake City beat Watertown-Mayer 13-7.
In 1A, Goodhue shutout Royalton 20-0, McLeod West whipped Red Rock Central 38-12, Osakis edged Fertile-Beltrami 9-7 and Pillager downed Cook County 50-22.
Semifinals will be played at the Metrodome on Friday and Saturday. Detroit Lakes will face St. Michael-Albertville at six o'clock on Saturday night. Breckenridge plays Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. and Alexandria matches up with Blaine at 8:30 on Saturday night in a battle of unbeaten teams.
Wednesday, November 7th, 2001
Spartan football fans have an opportunity to follow their team to the Pepsi-Cola Bowl. A fan bus is being organized by FFCC staff member Jessica Aguilar.
The 49 passenger motor coach would leave Staurday morning, November 17th, spend the night at a hotel, and return Sunday night after the game. Estimated costs include $35.00 per person for the bus transportation, $8.00 for adult game tickets and $5.00 for student game tickets, and $55.00 or more for the hotel.
Anyone interested needs to contact Jessica at 739-4530 or 739-7468.
Tuesday, November 6th
This remarkable FFCC football story has just taken another turn. The Spartan football team will play in the Pepsi-Cola Bowl on Sunday, November 18th in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Their opponent will be Ellsworth Community College from Ellsworth, Iowa. Kick-off is set for 12:00 Noon. The Spartans received the Bowl bid on Tuesday morning. More details will be forthcoming.
Information concerning the fan bus details for the Underwood Rockets state tournament appearances in volleyball and football have been announced. The deadline for signup is Wednesday at noon in the Underwood School office. Spots on the bus may be reserved by calling (218) 826-6101 or stopping by in person.
The cost for the volleyball bus each day of the Class 'A' Tournament is twelve dollars for students and fifteen dollars for adults. The bus will leave for the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday and Friday. Saturday's departure time depends on the time of the game, if the Rockets qualify for a third day of play.
The cost for the football trip on Saturday is fifteen dollars for students and seventeen dollars for adults. The bus will leave the Underwood School parking lot at 7:00 a.m. and should return by around midnight. The football team plays in Leroy against Leroy-Ostrander.
The transportation cost and game ticket cost is covered in the amount listed above.
A pepfest and send-off for the teams will be held on Wednesday at 9:00 a.m. in the Underwood School Gymnasium. The public is invited to attend.
Monday, November 5th, 2001
What an improbable finish to an amazing season!! The Fergus Falls Community College football team won their first ever State Title in a year where they had to overcome some tremendous obstacles.
First of all, they dropped their first three games, and although I don't have any way of confirming this, I am quite sure they became the first team in Minnesota Community College Conference history to win the state title after starting a season 0-3.
Secondly, they did it without Ben Brimhall! Ben was an all-state quarterback, leading the MCCC in every passing category as a freshman. He broke his collarbone in the first half of a 13-12 loss to Mesabi in the second week of the season, and didn't take another snap all year.
Thirdly, They lost the man who was expected to be their number one rusher, Jarrod Boesen, when he suffered what turned out to be a season-ending knee injury in the same game.
I will admit it. I was among those sounding the death knell for the Spartan football team after week three. Thankfully, the coaches and players didn't!!
The team won five of their last six regular season games and qualified for the state playoffs by beating Central Lakes in their final home game and regular season game. Then, they had to travel to Ely to play the Northern Division champions, Vermilion Community College. The Spartans beat the Ironmen 35-25 for their first win of the year in week four of the regular season, and they overcame a 10-0 halftime deficit to eliminate them in the state semifinals, 20-17. In fact, FFCC was the only team to beat Vermilion this year.
Then, on Saturday at St. Cloud State University, the Spartans took advantage of five Rochester turnovers, shutout the Yellowjackets through three quarters, dodged several bullets, and pulled off the biggest upset in the history of the football program! I say that because of these facts: Rochester was ranked number one in the state, number three in the nation, was the fourth-ranked offensive team in the country, had won four consecutive state titles and had whipped the Spartans 52-7 in a previous meeting on October 16th. All of those facts added up to a Rochester victory. However, the game isn't won on paper or past accomplishments, it's won on the day it's played on the gridiron, with real flesh and blood players, who play their hearts out for their teammates, their coaches, their fans, their school.
Coach Lloyd Danzeisen told me he never stopped believing in his team, and he also said, more importantly, they never stopped believing in themselves. They came out of their 52-7 loss to Rochester believing they could not only play with this team, but that they could beat them. Many people, including me, thought that to be rather far-fetched. I congratulate this group of young men and their coaches, on accomplishing what only they thought could be done. Against all odds, they brought the first-ever State Football Championship home to Fergus Falls Community College. I can honestly say that in all my years of covering area sports, this title, along with the Ladies Basketball National Championship run this past spring, and the comeback win by the Spartan Mens basketball team in 1998, are at the top of the list for thrills!!