Bouncing back is what counts
Gen. George Patton once uttered the famous phrase "Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom."
We all get knocked down. There's despair. We get back up. And soon enough, if fortune shines, things get better.
The wide appeal of the sports arena is that a drama can play out in a single evening or even a few minutes.
This past week saw a trend of bust to boom.
The Cardinals volleyball team started 0-9, but after a wrenching five-set loss at Sauk Rapids, surprised Little Falls 3-0 last Thursday. The young squad (three seniors) has gone 5-1 the past seven days.
The Warriors football team got off to a 1-4 start and then bumbled their way into a 14-0 hole in their Saturday evening game with visiting Minnesota West (2-3).
It looked like another breakdown by a team with more ability than its record would indicate. But this time instead of spinning into the ditch, the Warriors stepped on the gas to outhit and outscore the Trojans 24-6 the rest of the way.
The Cardinal football team, on the road against a big-school team with a 3-1 record, got pushed around in the first half at Moorhead. A minute into the second half, they were down by 14 points.
The Cardinals' second-half kickoff was returned 80 yards for a touchdown and the Spuds' kickoff, perhaps a miss hit, bounced hard off a Willmar lineman and was recovered by the home team. Game, set, match?
Willmar's Cole Christopher and fellow senior defensive tackle Jeff Duininck, both second-year starters, had had enough.
"We were getting beat inside the first half," said Christopher. "We were getting pushed around and we took it personally. We were to blame for being behind (14-7 at halftime)."
With Duininck taking on two Spuds linemen, Christopher broke through to tank Matt Duginski, the Spuds' power back, for losses. There was a glimmer of light, now, which grew brighter when Nathanial Swoyer blocked the Spuds' punt. The Cardinals soon scored and now trailed only by six points with nine minutes left in the third quarter.
"I had no doubt at that point that we were going to win," said Christopher.
Willmar dominated the rest of the game to win 35-26. That was the fourth win over a Class AAAAA team in 11 falls.
This looks to me like the most physically mature and athletic team since the 2000 season, a team that finished 8-1 in the regular season. Unfortunately, that team was in the pool of the largest schools where it was stopped by Burnsville in the second round. The next year's realignment dropped Willmar into AAAA.
Last week's Moorhead win won't mean much unless the Cardinals can win again on the road this week.
Terry Horan, a three-sport athlete and 1995 graduate of Willmar, was inducted with six others into the Concordia College Hall of Fame on Saturday. He has been the Cobbers' head football coach since 2000, but he was honored for his own athletic career at Concordia where he was a All-America in football and NCAA All-Region in baseball.
He is the school record holder for most touchdowns in a single season as well as receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns for a career. The quarterback throwing to Horan on the 1988 MIAC championship team was Doug Toivonen of Starbuck, who joined Horan as a 2010 inductee.
Ridgewater's Molly Hurrle, a freshman from Kimball, was selected MCAC South Division Setter of the Week. She had 61 assists in two sweeps, including 39 against Fergus Falls. She leads the division with 8.82 assists per game.
The Warriors' football team had two named Player of the Week. Cornerback Andy Rain, a sophomore from Oakdale and Tartan High School, contributed nine tackles, three pass breakups and an interception in Ridgewater's win over Minnesota West. He is the Defensive Player of the Week.
Named Special Teams Player of the Week was placekicker Elijah Swen, a freshman from New Hope and a Robbins dale Cooper graduate. He was 2-for-2 on extra-points and added a 30-yard field goal late in the game.