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Because of high winds, the color guard had difficulty holding the flags before the New London-Spicer football game Tuesday night in New London. Tribune photo by T.J. Bartelt

High winds, heavy rain played factor in several area football playoff games on Tuesday night

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Every playoff football game involving an area team on Tuesday night ended up being a blowout.

With wind gusts reaching 60 miles per hour at some fields, any play that required the ball being in the air became a memorable event to the players, coaches and fans alike. Punts, long snaps, punt returns, passes, kickoffs and conversion kicks were all done with hope and a prayer.

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Successful running teams like Morris were at a distinct advantage in the opening round of the sections. The Tigers amassed 534 yards on the ground in a 26-0 win over Benson in the quarterfinals of Section 5AA.

"(At Morris) It was a cross wind blowing right into the visitor's sideline," said Benson coach Scott Gonnerman on Wednesday." All of our fans sat on the other side for protection. I think both teams were somewhat hesitant to throw a lot. Morris had a very potent ground attack against us. We tried a few sprint out passes, but couldn't really throw the ball vertical due to the wind conditions. Both teams had to play in it, so was an interesting night."

Morris completed 1-of-4 passes for 17 yards. Benson, one of the better passing teams in the area, was limited to 13 yards through the air on 3-of-11 completions.

In Hancock's Section 3 Nine-man game in Edgerton, the wind actually cost the Owls a touchdown in a 54-12 loss. Edgerton/Ells-worth's quarterback rifled a pass into the wind trying to connect with a receiver in the end zone.

"On any normal day, the ball would have sailed 10 yards through the end zone," said Hancock coach Chad Christianson on Wednesday morning. "But last night, the ball literally stopped and came back into the field of play where the receiver caught it with his back almost to the quarterback. I have never seen anything like last night's wind."

The kicking game for both teams also was greatly affect by the wind, Christianson noted.

"I believe that there were only two kickoffs out of 12 that stayed in bounds," he said. "In the punting game, we were more likely to go for it on fourth down, but when we did punt, the punter was able to keep the ball low enough that the wind didn't affect it too much."

The winds became so strong in New London that there was damage to the press box. Three windows broke during the game, after they had been vibrating from the wind. No one was injured.

"Also, just as we were heading out to warm up, someone opened an outside doo and the door snapped off a couple of hinges," said New London-Spicer coach Dan Essler. "Luckily, two hinges held and the janitors repaired the door enough so it would close."

Because of a cross wind at New London, punts and kicks were affected much, Essler said.

"But catching them was very difficult," he noted.

New London-Spicer beat St. Cloud Cathedral 20-0 in the Section 6AAA quarterfinal game. Cathedral completed only 2-of-15 passes for 28 yards.

Minnewaska coach Steve Hill is in his 35th season as coach and MACCRAY's Mike Dammann is in his 28th year. Neither had experienced anything like Tuesday night's conditions.

"I've never had a game as windy for that long or with the gusts like that," said Dammann, following MACCRAY's 16-0 win over Lakeview in a Section 5A quarterfinal game in Maynard. "It had some impact (on the game), but not as much as I thought. Our field sits east and west so you either had a strong wind at your back or it was in your face.

Minnewaska fell to BOLD 27-0 in a Section 5AA quarterfinal bout in Olivia. The game featured the area's top two quarterbacks in terms of passing efficiency this season. But Andrew Amundson of Minnewaska completed only 2-of-11 passes for 12 yards. Kyle Athmann of BOLD hit on only 1-of-3 throws for 18 yards.

"That was the worst wind conditions I have played in," said Hill. "They players on both teams did well under the circumstances, but neither team had any success throwing the ball. Both punters did very well, actually, but the long snappers had a difficult time."

Long snapping and passing were big problems in the Lac qui Parle Valley's 26-16 loss to Yellow Medicine East in another 5AA quarterfinal game. Neither team was able to complete a pass.

"We decided that we were not going to punt the ball ahead of time," said YME coach Mike Gaffaney. "(LQPV) had a punt snap into the wind that knuckled back and the punter missed it. We blocked the punt and scored a few plays later.

"The wind was blowing from the northwest to the southeast corner of the field. I have never seen as much wind as we played in the 26 years I have been coaching or as a player."

YME was 0-for-3 passing in the game and LQPV finished 0-for-4.

Even cross country meets across the state were cancelled Tuesday and Wednesday. None of the area's meets scheduled for today have been affected yet.

The Section 7A meet in Cloquet scheduled for today has already been postponed because of poor conditions at Cloquet Golf Course. There was five inches of snow on the ground Wednesday morning and tree are down at the course, the Minnesota State High School League reported. The meet will be made up Friday.

The Section 6AA meet in Minnetrista was called off on Tuesday after rain and high winds also made the running course unsafe.

"I have been on site much of the day doing set-up and preparation," wrote meet manager Bob O'Hara of St. Louis Park in an e-mail. "During that time, the wind and rain has intensified. The bathrooms have blown over and the water is making puddles on the course. I have real issues about the safety of the runners."

And the name of the course the meet will now be run on Friday? It's appropriately named Gale Wood Park.

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