After eight regular-season games, the Willmar football team will now play the waiting game.
Going 6-2 in the regular season, the Cardinals were named the No. 2 seed in the six-team Section 2AAAA tournament on Thursday morning.
Willmar, along with top-seeded Hutchinson (7-1) receive first-round byes.
“It’s a culmination of all the hard work the kids put in and the overall season they had,” said Cardinals head coach Jon Konold. “We’ll get some rest and get ready for the section semifinals.”
Willmar faces the winner of Tuesday’s game between No. 6 Marshall (4-4) and No. 3 Faribault (5-3) in the section semifinals. That game will take place at 3 p.m. Saturday at Hodapp Field.
On the other side of the section, No. 5 St. Peter (4-4) travels to No. 4 Jordan (5-3) on Tuesday. The winner of that game will play Hutchinson on Saturday.
The 2AAAA championship will be at 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 5 at the high seed.
“It’s a strong section; every team is .500 or better,” Konold said. “Seeding was pretty cut-and-dry with the exception of the St. Peter/Jordan matchup over who got the home game. St. Peter won the head-to-head matchup but Jordan had a better win-loss record.”
In preparation for the semis, Konold said, “We’ll give the kids the rest of the weekend off to rest their bodies, go work or go hunting. We’ll work on some stuff to sharpen up and Wednesday, we’ll have a plan together to prep for either Faribault or Marshall.”
Around the area
Three other area teams earned No. 2 seeds in their respective tournaments.
Just two years removed from opting out of the playoffs after an 0-8 finish in 2019, Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa (5-3) earned the second seed in Section 4A. The Jaguars open the postseason at 6 p.m. Tuesday in Belgrade against No. 7 Long Prairie-Grey Eagle (1-7).
“Entering the season, our goal was to get to .500, then see how everything went into place,” said BBE head coach Chris Moscho. “As the season went on, the kids thought they have a legit shot (to win the section). There’s a chance.”
The Jaguars began the year by ending a 25-game losing streak with a 26-0 win over Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg. Since October, BBE is 3-1, including a 34-12 win over LP-GE on Oct. 1.
“When the guys showed up during the summer and first day of practice, there wasn’t even a thought in my mind that the losing streak would come to an end,” Moscho said. “We knew the talent we had on the field. The streak will be done; it was just a matter of when. The talent was there.”
Elsewhere in 4A, No. 5 Benson (3-5) will head to Murdock to play No. 4 KMS (2-6) at 6 p.m. Tuesday. The Fighting Saints won the Week 5 matchup, 27-14.
In 5A, BOLD (7-1) was in the hunt with Minneota (8-0) for the top seed. The section is seeded by the QRF formula, which benefits a Warriors team that plays against a mix of A and AA schools.
Ultimately, the Vikings’ perfect record vaulted them over BOLD, which opens the postseason against No. 7 MACCRAY (1-7) at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Olivia.
“When we lost to Kimball (in Week 7), we knew we’d probably fall in that QRF tiebreaker and (Minneota) would have a better record,” said Warriors head coach Derek Flann. “This week, our hope was to take care of BBE and we played pretty well and hung onto that two seed.”
Section 5A is one of the toughest in its class with Minneota, BOLD, Lakeview (7-1) and Dawson-Boyd (6-2) making up the top four.
A young Warriors squad would love another matchup against Minneota after losing the regular-season finale last season, 14-7. But Flann and company won’t look past the Wolverines.
“We’re not the team this year that’s been winning 60-0; we’ve had to bite and claw for every win,” Flann said. “We don’t feel comfortable looking past even MACCRAY. We’d love to take a shot at Lakeview, Minneota or Dawson, but we’re focused on MACCRAY. We’ve had too many close games where we had to find a way to win against 4-4 and 3-5 teams.”
In Section 2 9-Man, Renville County West is looking to secure its third straight section championship.
The Jaguars (5-3) are the No. 2 seed and square off with No. 7 Nicollet (2-6) at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Danube.
RCW and Nicollet met in Week 7, where the Raiders pulled off the 14-12 upset at home.
The top seed in 2 9-Man is Hancock, who went 8-0 in the regular season.
Here’s a look at the rest of the area seeds:
1-Hutchinson (7-1), 2-Willmar (6-2) 1st round bye
6-Marshall (4-4) at 3-Faribault (5-3)
5-St. Peter (4-4) at 4-Jordan (5-3)
1-Providence Academy (8-0) 1st round bye
7-Holy Family Catholic (0-8) at 2-Dassel-Cokato (8-0)
6-Glencoe-Silver Lake (3-5) at 3-Watertown-Mayer (6-2)
5-Litchfield (5-3) at 4-Rockford (6-2)
1-Albany (6-2) 1st round bye
7-Minnewaska (1-7) at 2-Pierz (5-3)
6-Montevideo (1-7) at 3-Morris/Chokio-Alberta (5-3)
5-Melrose (3-5) at 4-New London-Spicer (3-5)
1-Royalton (7-1), 2-Eden Valley-Watkins (7-1) 1st round bye
6-Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City (3-5) at 3-Kimball (8-0)
5-Holdingford (3-5) at 4-Paynesville (6-2)
1-Upsala/Swanville Area (6-2) 1st round bye
7-Long Prairie-Grey Eagle (1-7) at 2-Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa (5-3)
6-Parkers Prairie (1-7) at 3-Browerville/Eagle Valley (4-4)
5-Benson (3-5) at 4-Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg (2-6)
8-Yellow Medicine East (0-8) at 1-Minneota (8-0)
7-MACCRAY (1-7) at 2-BOLD (7-1)
6-Canby (3-5) at 3-Lakeview (7-1)
5-Lac qui Parle Valley (3-5) at 4-Dawson-Boyd (6-2)
Section 2-9 man
1-Hancock (8-0) 1st round bye
7-Nicollet (2-6) at 2-Renville County West (5-3)
6-Ortonville (3-5) at 3-Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s (7-1)
5-Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart (3-5) at 4-Cedar Mountain (4-4)