The toughest test in the Minnewaska football team's current winning streak comes today when the Lakers play BOLD in the Section 5AA championship game at Big Cat Stadium in Morris.
The Lakers, 0-9 last year, seemed headed down the same road after three games this season. They lost to Morris/Chokio-Alberta, BOLD and ACGC and were outscored 98-7. Then they blew a halftime lead and lost to Lac qui Parle Valley to start 0-4.
Since then, Minnewaska has won six straight and is one victory from the state tournament.
"They were really getting tired of it, man," said Lakers head coach Steve Hill. "A lot of the kids playing this year were part of last year's team and they just needed some validation. They needed to know that what we're doing is good football and that we're doing things the right way. Winning is validation."
But Hill said the Lakers will have to play even better than they have during their streak to contend with the Warriors, who are 9-0 and finished the regular season ranked No. 4 in Class AA.
"BOLD is just really solid," Hill said. "Really good athletes and they're really coached up. You really have to play well because you have no margin for error."
The Warriors defeated the Lakers 35-0 in week two this season.
"We had six turnovers and that doesn't give you a chance," Hill said. "We gave them a short field all night and they just chewed us up. When you get the ball, you have to do something with it. If you go three-and-out and keep giving them the ball back, you're in trouble."
Morris/CA (9-0) vs.
New London-Spicer (6-4)
This might be seen as a battle of former yet familiar West Central Conference rivals. No so true, at least in football. The fact is the Tigers and Wildcats have played only five times in the last 10 years, with a five-year stretch from 2005 to 2009 when their paths never crossed.
But tonight's section title game at St. Cloud State University will be for a state championship berth and MCA will be out to redirect a trend: The Tigers last beat NLS is 2002 and they have lost the last four, including a 23-20 setback in overtime last year.
Morris finished the season ranked No. 4 in Class AAA and punished Albany 33-13 in last week's semifinals. But NLS is playing well, having won three in a row after a four-game midseason losing streak during which it lost three games by a touchdown or less (including a seven-point loss to Annandale, ranked No. 6 in Class AAA).