Jason’s Blog: Round 2 preview…
Posted By: Jason Iacovino
Tuesday's section football quarterfinals provided more drama and intrigue than it does most years. In nothern Minnesota, there was a 6-overtime game (Duluth Marshall beat Greenway / Nashwauk-Keewatin, 64-62). In southeastern Minnesota, there was 9-man game that featured 149 points (Mabel-Canton beat Lyle-Pacelli, 98-51).
Closer to home, there was an absolute heartbreaker in a season of heartbreaks for New Richland-Heartbreak (Hartland, actually)-Ellendale-Geneva, as the Panthers came inches short of upsetting No. 2 Maple River, losing 21-20 in overtime. NRHEG went for two and a completed pass to from senior Trevor Tracy to senior Spencer Tollefson was stopped just shy of the goal line, allowing the Eagles to hold on for an overtime win over the Panthers for the second straight year.
Congratulations is in order for coach Dan Stork and NRHEG, whose final record of 3-6 hardly tells the story of how well they played. The Panthers started the year with fireworks in Arlington, cruising to victory against Sibley East during a monsoon in week one, but they suffered close losses to Lake Crystal-Wellcome-Memorial, Maple River, and Waterville-Elysian-Morristown in the middle of the year. Then they gave Blooming Prairie all it could handle in week eight before advancing in the playoffs became a matter of inches against Maple River.
They say high school sports builds character, and if there's any truth to it, then the young men from NRHEG likely have a large supply, even as they don't get to play football this weekend.
Owatonna also endured some late drama on Tuesday, although unlike the Panthers, the Huskies were able to come out on top in their 21-16 win over No. 6 seed Austin in Sec. 1AAAAA. Owatonna has a shot to pull of a rags to riches story if they can upset No. 2 seed Rochester Mayo on the road Saturday, as it is quite likely the red hot Rochester John Marshall, the 5-seed, will upset the top-seed Faribault. If this happens, the Huskies would host the section title game for the third straight year.
Upsetting Mayo will not be an easy task for coach Jeff Williams and the defending Class AAAAA State champions, however. Mayo beat Owatonna, 42-14, in week six, and now the Spartans get to play on their new artificial turf field.
Meanwhile, it was business as usual for Blooming Prairie and Triton, who both hosted No. 7 seeds and cruised to lopsided victories in their respective sections. The Cobras are looking very good in Sec. 1AA as they will host Lewiston-Altura at the Snake Pit on Saturday, a team they beat 40-21 on Oct. 10.
Blooming Prairie will face Goodhue for the seventh time in the last eight postseasons (BP did not face Goodhue in 2013, but the two teams played each of the previous six seasons, with the Awesome Blossoms winning four of those games). The Wildcats beat Wabasha-Kellogg, 35-20, in the quarterfinals. BP was dominant against Fillmore Central and appears destined to reach the Sec. 1A title game for the eighth consecutive year.
Medford's season came to an end on Tuesday night, losing to the top seed Norwood-Young-America in Sec. 2AA, a section that appears to be wide open at this point with Waterville-Elysian-Morristown coming on strong. The Tigers put up a good fight on Tuesday night, but finish the season 0-9.
Rochester Mayo 27, Owatonna 20
Triton 42, Lewiston-Altura 20
Rochester John Marshall 35, Faribault 14
Faribault B.A. 28, Rushford-Peterson 27
Gophers 45, Illinois 21
Vikings 24, Tampa Bay 14
Jason Iacovino can be heard Tuesdays and Fridays on KRFO-AM 1390 at 3:50 p.m. Leave a comment below or follow him on Twitter @JasonIacovino.