High School Preview: After three weeks off, MACCRAY finally gets to play a game
Wolverines host Yellow Medicine East on Friday after missing contests because of coronavirus pandemic issues. Also, take a look at the Litchfield at Albany and Eden Valley-Watkins at BOLD games, plus notes on Montevideo and Paynesville as well as the full area football schedule this week.
MAYNARD — The MACCRAY football team has waited three weeks to enjoy the Friday night lights.
With the coronavirus putting their football season on hold, the Wolverines will play their second game this season when they host Yellow Medicine East in a Southwest District West Division contest at 7 p.m Friday.
On the weekend of the Wolverines’ season opener against Minneota on Oct. 9, a member of the football team began showing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and later tested positive. Multiple positive tests from teammates and members of the coaching staff followed, resulting in the program canceling games against Russell-Tyler-Ruthton, Canby and Lac qui Parle Valley.
“Our kids are champing at the bit,” Wolverines head coach Rick Meyer said. “They want to play again and don’t want this season to be gone, especially our seniors. They’re fired up for this game on Friday night.”
In the time in between games, the team held virtual meetings as the coaches encouraged the players to remain mentally engaged and to work out individually. Many players stayed in shape by working out together before the school was cleared to resume activities last week.
MACCRAY returned to practice Oct. 29.
“We’re just trying to get back on our feet here again, with having been off the last couple of weeks,” Meyer said.
Morris/Chokio-Alberta Tigers win the shootout, 34-30
While the Wolverines have not been in action in three weeks, YME is still in search of its first victory after falling in the first four games of the season.
Falling in double overtime at Lac qui Parle Valley on Oct. 9, the Sting have since lost their next three games by an average of 30 points per game.
The two teams met last season in Granite Falls. YME led wire-to-wire before capturing a 20-14 victory.
Meyer believes the key to avenging that loss is clock management.
“We need to control the clock and run the ball. We can’t go out there and throw three incompletions and then in 30 seconds, we’re punting the ball.”
Here is a look at two other games of note in the area:
Blowing out Glencoe-Silver Lake, Watertown-Mayer and Holy Family Catholic through the first three weeks of the season, Litchfield passed a stiff test last Friday on the road against Dassel-Cokato.
The Dragons led 15-7 in the fourth quarter before the Chargers cut the deficit to 15-13 on a Eli Gillman touchdown with five minutes remaining. However, Litchfield denied the hosts a chance to tie when it stuffed a two-point conversion run.
Converting on three fourth-down plays on the ensuing drive, the Dragons ran out the clock to improve to 4-0.
“Those are the kinds of games that are fun to play,” Litchfield head coach Jim Jackman said. “They are a little gut-wrenching at times, but those are the games as coaches that we want to be in. I think the kids sometimes like the blowouts, but as coaches, you look forward to those battles; that’s where the memories are made.”
Showing that his team can win in a variety of ways, Jackman has been impressed by his team’s game preprepation and film study, particularly on the defensive end. With Wyatt Larson and Logan King leading the team last week with 15 and 13 tackles, respectively, Jackman says the Dragons defense has collectively done a good job at maintaining their individual responsibilities flowing to the ball.
Litchfield will have to maintain discipline when it plays at undefeated Albany in a East Central District crossover game at 7 p.m. Friday. Holding all of their opponents to single digits this season, the Huskies are currently ranked third in Class AAA.
“I’ve been here for many, many years and Albany has been a powerhouse in AAA football for years and years,” Jackman said. “It is a football community and they’ve done what they are doing now for years and years, and they do it really, really well.”
The thing that Albany has done well for years is run the ball thanks to its Broken Wing-T formation.
Lined up tight with two tight ends, all three running backs — two in the backfield, the other lined up wide near a tight end — are options to carry the ball. Additionally, the quarterback is another running option. But what makes the formation so difficult to stop is how quickly the Huskies break their huddle and race to the line.
“They do things so fast and they’re so disciplined and how they do it, that sometimes defensively it’s a challenge to get lined up correctly and get set,” Jackman said.
Last season, Albany visited Litchfield and throttled the Dragons 48-14. It was the first time many of Litchfield’s players had seen the Huskies vaunted running attack in person. The Dragons’ coaching staff believes the team will be better prepared this time around.
“To be honest with you, it’s similar to what we’ve seen between GSL and D-C,” Jackman said. “Even Watertown-Mayer has a couple similar formations with their trap game that Albany has lived on for years and years.”
While the team hasn’t been perfect in its execution, through the first four games, BOLD hasn’t suffered a blemish.
The Warriors have defeated each of their opponents by double figures, including a 35-21 victory over Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted last Friday.
“We’ve not been real crisp the last couple of weeks, but our kids have found a way to win, or in the case last week, built up a lead and just kind of hung on to it,” BOLD head coach Derek Flann said.
Flann was complementary of BOLD’s running game during its win over the Lakers. Running behind an inexperienced offensive line, Tim Peppel scored twice and Drew Sagedahl rushed in another touchdown.
This week, that offensive line will be challenged. In its first home contest of the season, BOLD hosts 3-1 Eden Valley-Watkins in a Mid-State District game at 7 p.m. Friday at Olivia.
The Eagles feature four linemen listed at 245 pounds or more, including 6-foot, 280-pound senior A.J. Rasmussen.
“They’re big up front and got good athletes with the ball in their hands. They’ve got a really nice team,” Flann said. “We’ll do our best to compete up front and try to control the line of scrimmage where we can.”
EV-W has fast playmakers as well in junior Gavin Mathies, freshman Nolan Geislinger and 6-7 senior wide receiver Josh Streit. Flann said jokingly that his cornerbacks may need a step ladder to cover him.
The Eagles may be without their top two options at quarterback after each went out with injuries during a 26-22 loss at home against Maple Lake last Friday. EV-W turned the ball over eight times against the Irish. Still, Flann is expecting the Eagles to be sharp.
“We’re going to have to play well; it’s that simple,” Flann said. “We’re not going to be able to make the mistakes we’ve made the last couple of weeks and get away with it.”
Like MACCRAY, Montevideo will play its second game of the season when it hosts Melrose at 7 p.m. Friday. The Thunder Hawks canceled their first two games when the school district elected to go to distance learning due to COVID-19 concerns last month.
Montevideo was shut out 24-0 against Minnewaska on Oct. 23. Last week, the team’s game against Rockford was canceled.
The Thunder Hawks are looking for their first win against Melrose since 2011.
For the second time this season, Paynesville will play a different opponent than was originally scheduled.
The Bulldogs were supposed to host Holdingford, but after the Huskers were forced to pull out due to the pandemic, Paynesville will now face Kenyon-Wanamingo at 7 p.m. Friday in Paynesville. This is the Knights’ third attempt at locking down an opponent after Blooming Prairie canceled its scheduled meeting and Zumbrota-Mazeppa canceled as the replacement.
Paynesville and Kenyon-Wanamingo each have 3-1 records.
Mid State District
ACGC (2-2) at Maple Lake (1-3), 7 p.m.
North Central District
Big Lake (3-0) at Willmar (2-1), 7 p.m.
East Central District
St. Cloud Cathedral (1-3) at New London-Spicer (1-3), 7 p.m.
Litchfield (4-0) at Albany (4-0), 7 p.m.
Mid State District
Sauk Centre (1-3) at Minnewaska (1-3), 7 p.m.
Eden Valley-Watkins (3-1) at BOLD (4-0), 7 p.m.
BBE (0-4) at KMS (2-2), 7 p.m.
Upsala/Swanville (2-2) at Benson (3-1), 7 p.m.
Melrose (1-3) at Montevideo (0-1), 7 p.m.
Southwest District West Division
Lac qui Parle Valley (2-2) at Dawson-Boyd (4-0), 5 p.m.
YME (0-4) at MACCRAY (0-1), 7 p.m.
District 9 South (West)
RCW (4-0) at Buffalo Lake-Hector-Stewart (1-2), 7 p.m.
Kenyon-Wanamingo (3-1) at Paynesville (3-1), 7 p.m.