Jason’s Blog: Southern Minnesota High School Football Week 3
What have we learned through two weeks?
The Huskies are a strong second-half team, the Awesome Blossoms will be playing 48-minute games this year, and the Panthers and Cobras will be a factor in Class AA.
The big headline from week two is Owatonna's thrilling 27-21 double overtime win on the road against top 10-ranked Rochester John Marshall. Once again the Huskies found themselves down at halftime, but on this occasion they were able to crawl back and tie things up in regulation, before an unlikely overtime sequence broke the hearts of the Rockets.
A lot has been made this NFL preseason about moving the extra points back to where they become 33-yd field goals. A similar situation happened for OHS after Alec Holcomb caught a TD in the first overtime after JM had gone up 21-14. An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty pushed the PAT back to where Alden Buryska needed to drill a 35-yard field goal to send the game to double overtime. And he did.
What followed was another Holcomb TD and the Huskies' defense made it stick, putting Owatonna in the driver's seat in the Big Southeast Red district and in the Section 1AAAAA standings for the time being, despite the opening-week loss to Mankato West. The Huskies will host Faribault (0-2) this week in one of those "throw the records out" games. Owatonna beat the Falcons in 2014, but Faribault went on to win the section. The Falcons are no longer in Owatonna's section, so this one is all about I-35 bragging rights.
Meanwhile, the Blooming Prairie Awesome Blossoms once again discovered that offense is going to require patience in 2015 as they fell 28-12 to a much bigger Bethlehem Academy squad in week two at Bruce Smith Field. The Cardinals and Blossoms both move to Section 2A this year, so there's a decent chance they could meet again in the playoffs. If that happens, BP will have to find a way to stop running back Peyton Glenzynski, who rushed for about 180 yards on nearly 30 carries last Friday.
BP's defense wasn't as good as it has been recently, but the real issue for the Blossoms was the inability to get the passing game going. BA applied pressure to sophomore quarterback Lucas Noble all game, and that made it tough to find his weapons in space. Noble's rushing was also limited by the Cardinals' stingy front eight (He had nearly 90 yards rushing vs. Rushford-Peterson in week one).
The Cardinals won despite nine penalties, many of which were 15 yards or more, and two lost fumbles by quarterback Kollin Hanson. Plenty of mistakes were made by both teams, but in the end, it was Glenzynski that made the difference. BP (0-1) will regroup against St. Clair (0-2) on Friday night at home before traveling to Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton on Sept. 11 -- these two games should provide 19-year head coach Chad Gimbel an opportunity to experiment a bit more with his new personnel on offense to find the right mix.
New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva is off to a nice 2-0 start after clobbering Lester Prairie / Holy Trinity at home last Friday, 34-6. The Bulldogs usually provide a tough test, but coach Dan Stork and the Panthers have a strong nucleus back from a team that surprised many in 2014. They lost their starting quarterback Trevor Tracy and starting receiver Spencer Tollefson to graduation, but the Panthers return top rushers Trey Hoppe, Jason Jongblodt and Alex Merritt.
NRHEG's toughest loss in 2014 was their 21-20 home defeat to rival Waterville-Elysian-Morristown, where Mitch Wolters scored the last of his three rushing TDs with less than 30 seconds to go in regulation and the ensuing extra point was a shot to the gut of Panthers fans in New Richland. I doubt you'll hear the word "revenge" from Coach Stork and the gang this week as they prepare for another battle against the Buccaneers (2-0), but you know this is one that is of special interest to the Panthers.
WEM has been business-like in cruising to victories over St. James and Lake Crystal-Welcome-Memorial, but the ante will be upped when they host NRHEG this week in our Kat Kountry 105 Game of the Week. NRHEG is back in Waterville's playoff section this year for added fun, so we'll all be keeping a close eye on this one. The winner will have the inside track on the South Central Blue district championship, even as Maple River awaits later in the year for both squads.
The Medford Tigers put up a better fight in week two, but ultimately came up short in a 41-28 loss to Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton. The Tigers have extremely tough competition in the season's final six weeks, and that starts on Friday when they travel to Mankato to face the surging Loyola Crusaders (2-0).
Finally, the Triton Cobras get a rare Thursday 8PM slate this week as they make the long trip to Winona to face the Cotter Ramblers. The game will be carried live on Kat Kountry 105 with Roy Koenig on the call. Don Henderson's team is shaping up to possibly go on one of those dominant runs we've grown accustomed to seeing from Triton in his 25-plus year reign as head coach. Triton has Caledonia and Chatfield to deal with later in the season, but in the meanwhile, they are looking very good in the Southeast White district, where they've already dispatched Kasson-Mantorville and Zumbrota-Mazeppa. Triton has had nice regular seasons the past couple years, but have struggled in the playoffs since moving to Section 1AA, where they again are competing in 2015 along with Caledonia and Chatfield.
I'll say this much, I've seen Triton figure out a way to topple WEM when the Buccaneers provided the state tournament road block from 1998-2006, and I'm confident they will eventually do the same with respect to state powers Caledonia and Chatfield.
Jason Iacovino can be heard Tuesdays and Fridays on KRFO-AM 1390 at 3:50PM. Leave a comment below and follow him on Twitter @JasonIacovino.