BELGRADE -- October has been a month of tragedy and triumph at Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa High School.
The community lost a beloved educator when Richard Vos died in a traffic accident on the morning of Oct. 16, a Tuesday. Students reacted with grief and shock at the sudden loss of the 38-year-old wrestling coach and math teacher.
The evening volleyball game was postponed to the next day.
On that Wednesday, the volleyball team and the football team both won meetings with Eden Valley-Watkins.
The volleyball team, no stranger to section finals, was 23-7 going into Tuesday's 5A-West semifinal match against Bertha-Hewitt at Long Prairie.
The football team (6-4) is in a section final for the first time this century. The Jaguars are at St. Cloud State's Husky Stadium at 1 p.m. Saturday to play Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City in the Section 4A championship game.
The Jaguar 11 have won three straight and six of their last seven.
Head coach Chris Moscho said it took time to find the parts for the 2012 Jaguars. The rainstorm that canceled most area inter-school scrimmages on Aug. 25 broke the BBE assembly line in its early stage.
"Missing the scrimmage was big for us," commented Moscho on Tuesday. "We were replacing the whole offensive and defensive lines due to graduation. It took a little time for the coaching staff to get the guys in the right spot and also time for them to jell. Once going, they have proven to be a key factor in our success. The kids are confident and believe they can play with anyone at this point."
The football team is seeded No. 3 in Section 4A. The Jags opened the playoffs with a 34-8 win over No. 6 MACCRAY, at Belgrade, and then knocked off No. 2 Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity, the defending section champ, 12-6 on the road.
"The kids are playing inspirational football right now," continued Moscho. "It was tough losing such a great member of our community. We lost our first three games and each game the opposing team had 34 points. During the first playoff game, versus MACCRAY, I told the kids, 'You guys want to know how I know you have turned this season around?' and I pointed to the scoreboard. It read BBE 34 MACCRAY 8. Rich Vos may have had something to do with that."
While the school has known repeated success in volleyball and most recently boys basketball, the football program took its lumps. In the past 12 falls, only once has the program won more than three games (5-5 in 2008). Regardless the outcome vs. the Falcons, BBE will finish with a winning record for the first time this century.
"This is the third year this coaching staff has been together," said Moscho. "The progress this program has made is incredible. The kids bought into our system and are hungry to win. Each coach brings something special to the table, it's a great staff."
The BBE assistants are Shane Radermacher, Paul Rooney, Rick Gossen and volunteer coaches Dave Cebulla and Pat Illies.
Many of the players were on the basketball team or competed at state in wrestling. That post-season experiences can only help, figures Moscho.
To mention two: QB Brian Goodwin played point guard on the 2012 Class A basketball state champs and the 2011 state runner-up. RB/LB Patrick Rooney placed third in Class A wrestling at 170 pounds.
The BBE football team has not been to state. In 1982 Belgrade went to Prep Bowl I, losing on a late field goal to Truman in the Class C championship game and last qualified in 1983.
ACGC, which has its share of state-meet seasoned wrestlers, won the Class AA football championship in 2001 and qualified in 2010. The section's top seed hasn't lost to a Class A school and is ranked No. 2 QRF. The Falcons losses were to 3A Morris/Chokio-Alberta and 2A BOLD. Both of those teams are undefeated and will also compete this week for a spot in the state tournament -- which means the West Central Conference could qualify three of its members for the state tournament.