Tom Larson is the sports editor of the West Central Tribune.
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For the second-straight year, the Paynesville football team will take to the Big Cat Stadium turf in Morris on Friday with an undefeated record, one big game standing between them and the Minnesota State Class AA tournament. And, again, the Bulldogs will have a gigantic task ahead of them. Last year, it was Minneota scratching the only blemish on Paynesville’s 10-1 season with a 23-8 win in the Section 5AA final at Big Cat. The Vikings went on to the Class AA championship game. This year, the 9-0 Bulldogs, ranked No.
Woody Allen’s contention that “80 percent of success is showing up” fits Riley Grussing to a T. The Willmar High School senior setter could be playing the final games of her prep career this week, and what has defined that record-setting career is her willingness to show up, plan and prepare. “She’s not scared to work and to take on the challenge to be a leader on the team,” said Willmar head coach Traci Grussing, whose No. 7-seeded Cardinals open the Section 2AAA playoffs hosting No. 10 New Prague at 7 p.m. today. “She has the personality for it.
The Dawson-Boyd Blackjacks face their biggest test of the regular season when Minneota comes to Dawson on Friday. The teams are both 4-0, tied with Adrian, atop the Little Sioux Conference standings. The Blackjacks are averaging almost 46 points per game while giving up fewer than 10. But the Vikings have been even more impressive offensively and defensively, averaging almost 65 points and allowing just 6.3. Last year, the teams’ seasons played out similarly. The Vikings defeated the Blackjacks 27-6 in the fifth week of the season in Minneota.
Just four years ago, the Renville County West football program appeared to be on life support. After finishing 6-4 in 2007 and 5-4 in 2008, the Jaguars fell to 2-7 in their first season in the Little Sioux Conference in 2009. After their 2010 Homecoming game, the school forfeited its final three games because of a lack of players. The situation didn’t improve much in 2011, with the Jags many times suiting up just 14 players and ending the year with a 1-8 record.
ROCHESTER — The visitors from west-central Minnesota to the Rochester Regional Sports Stadium on Saturday evening showed an over-abundance of courtesy spotting the home team a 21-0 lead. When Ridgewater...
Now in his third year as a starter, Paynesville’s Matthew Quade is building himself quite a resume as the Bulldogs’ quarterback. The senior has helped lead the team to 17 wins, including three playoff victories, a West Central Conference championship, and in the last two years he’s 4-0 against the conference’s other two powerhouses, BOLD and ACGC.
Willmar won its biggest game in years, 39-20, at Brainerd on Friday night. Most impressive was the way the Cardinals got it done, building a 19-point lead, then losing it before scoring three straight second-half touchdowns — to ice the win. Willmar hadn’t won against the Warriors since a 14-6 win at Brainerd in 2000. That’s 11 straight losses and five straight losses at the Warriors’ Adamson Field (the teams didn’t play in 2006 and 2007). And most of those losses weren’t close.
Week One of Tribune-area prep football is in the books and there are some clear signs and others that still are a little murky about how the season might progress from here. Paynesville is obviously a big first-week winner, defeating BOLD 32-13 in a Friday game in Olivia delayed about 90 minutes by bad weather. The long pause didn’t affect the Bulldogs, who took control early and played well on both sides of the ball. Bulldogs quarterback Matthew Quade threw for 291 yards and 3 touchdowns, and the Paynesville defense limited BOLD star back Ben Steffel, a 1,600-yard rusher last season, to ju
WILLMAR — The Willmar girls soccer team won a section match and got back on track after a tough week against Worthington on Saturday. The Cardinals scored a goal in each half and limited the Trojans to just three shots in a 2-0 non-conference win at the Kennedy School field. Willmar improved to 2-2 overall. The Cardinals take on Central Lakes Conference opponent Fergus Falls at 6 p.m. today at Kennedy. The Cardinals are 0-1 in the CLC but evened their Section 2A record at 1-1 with the win Saturday. “It was a hug defensive effort,” said Willmar head coach Chelsea Brown.
News seems to hit home a little harder in a small town, where everybody knows everybody.