Tom Larson is the sports editor of the West Central Tribune.
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Last season, the Dawson-Boyd football team entered the playoffs with few injuries and left a litter of teams in its wake as it marched to the Class A state championship, winning six postseason games by an average margin of 36 points per game. This season will be different.
Prep wrestling coaches throughout the area were stunned by the death of Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa head coach Rich Vos on Tuesday. Two long-time area coaches, New London-Spicer's Jair Toedter and KMS's Wes Haglund, said they were saddened by the loss of a coach, husband and father who worked hard in the school and in the community. One of BBE's annual invitational tournaments served as the official start of the high school season for many area teams, said Toedter, who began his teaching and coaching career at BBE.
Homecoming week is among the best of the school year, five fun days filled with dancing, dress-up, coronations and, of course, the big game on Friday night. But Homecoming is more subdued this week at MACCRAY High School. The football team hasn't won a game yet but that's really a minor concern right now. Students are worrying daily about a classmate and friend who is fighting hard for his life in a Minneapolis hospital.
ACGC head football coach Terry Karlsgodt sighed as he recited the statistics, and even though he was talking on a telephone you could almost feel him shaking his head. "We threw the ball 15 times, we completed five, we were sacked four times and we threw five interceptions,"" Karlsgodt said. "Dismal." Karlsgodt was referring to the production of the Falcons' newly minted passing attack in last week's 34-0 season-opener loss to BOLD in Olivia. Historically, the Falcons have belied their high-flying nickname.
HANCOCK -- Hancock football coach Chad Christianson's team was scrimmaging Wheaton last week when the coach turned to his freshman defensive lineman. "What do you think, you want some of this?" Christianson said, pointing to the varsity teams on the field. "Yeah, I'll get in there and play," the lineman said. So in went the freshman, and not long after Wheaton tried to run one up the gut. The lineman grabbed the ball carrier and dropped him. Coach and player were pleased.
What was once new will be old again -- or, what was once old will be new again. Something like that. The old, single-division West Central Conference is back this season. Sort of. This season, the West Central Conference will not be divided into North and South divisions, as it had been for many years. Albany and New London-Spicer -- which begins its first season in the Wright County Conference -- have departed.
A quick start will be imperative for the three area teams opening play in the Minnesota State Amateur Baseball Tournament the next two weekends. For the first time this season, the Class C field has been expanded to 48 teams, but those teams will get just one shot and keeping their seasons alive since the tournament also for the first time has adop-ted a one-and-done format instead of double elimination. "I told our guys that if we play well we have a good chance of winning," said Bird Island manager Mike Nagel, whose Bullfrogs play Ada in the first round at 7:30 p.m.
Two years ago, even the most proud and stubborn Renville County West football fan had to be thinking the end was near. The team was down to a handful of players and had to forfeit half its varsity games because of the low numbers.
CHASKA -- So many dramatic twists and comedic turns have been played out in the Lac qui Parle Valley baseball team's season that it was fitting that head coach Bart Hill would liken the Eagles to a popular yet fictional band of misfits and believers who came out on top in the end. "Never, never, never would have believed it would come down to this," said a jubilant Hill after his Eagles defeated Browerville 4-1 on Friday to secure a spot in Monday's Class A championship game at Target Field. "We're like the 'Bad News Bears'," he said.
For Central Minnesota prep baseball fans thinking about a BOLD vs. Lac qui Parle Valley matchup in the Class A state tournament, you'll have to wait for a Monday championship game at Target Field. The Eagles and Warriors open the tournament today on opposite sides of the eight-team bracket, and there are plenty of pitfalls for both teams to clear before the dream game could become reality. Changes improved LQPV Section 3A champion LQPV (16-9) plays Section 7A winner Ely (20-3) at 12:30 p.m. today at Chaska Athletic Park.