Prep football: Now in the state quarterfinals, BBE keeps having fun
Jaguars will continue in their underdog role against Rushford-Peterson on Friday in St. Bonifacius
BELGRADE — Typically, a team may not feel comfortable being the underdog heading into the quarterfinals of a state tournament.
Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa is not one of those teams, as it prepares for the Class A state football quarterfinals for the first time in 39 years.
The Jaguars battle Rushford-Peterson at 7 p.m. on Friday at Crown College in St. Bonifacius.
The winner advances to the semifinals to play the winner of Mahnomen/Waubun and Minneota on Nov. 20 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
The Class A state championship is scheduled for 10 a.m. Nov. 26 at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Throughout nearly the entire 2021 season, BBE had been deemed the underdog after three straight winless seasons.
The Jaguars’ turnaround season officially began with a 26-0 victory over Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg in Week 1, when KMS was favored.
“I think after that first win against KMS, these guys truly started believing that we got something special here,” BBE head coach Chris Moscho said.
After ending the regular season 5-3, BBE carried that underdog mentality into the postseason, leading to a 38-6 victory over Long Prairie-Grey Eagle and a 34-21 victory over Browerville/Eagle Valley; punching its ticket to Fargo, North Dakota, to battle for the the Section 4A title against top-seeded Upsala/Swanville Area.
The Jaguars pulled off the upset with a 52-44 victory to advance to state.
Sophomore quarterback Luke Dingmann described the clash against the Patriots in Fargo.
“It was crazy,” he said. “So much scoring in that game. Both offensive and defensive teams were on a roll. We were down 16-0 after the first quarter but we just stepped up after that pretty good.”
To Moscho, BBE is more comfortable being the underdog, rather than the favorite.
“These guys don’t know any better. They don’t know what it's like to be the favorite or huge favorite going into a game,” he said. “All they know is coming out to play and they’re kind of the underdog every game.
“No team wanted to lose to BBE coming into this season and it was deemed embarrassing to lose to us,” he added. “Now we figured out how we can contend and beat people and they’re just playing really well.”
This is the first time since 1982, when the team was named the Belgrade Redmen playing in the inaugural Prep Bowl, that BBE has made it to the state tournament. Brooten was a separate school district until merging and becoming BBE in the late 1980s.
“You could almost cry for some of these guys,” Moscho said. “You know what their life is like, for them to be in this moment with these 43 other guys.
“You win in wrestling, it's fun. You win in basketball, it’s fun. But if you win in football, it’s a group of 40-plus guys and you’ve got a whole community behind you and it’s just something special.”
Dingmann says the players, and the school, have been riding a high the past few days.
“It’s been an amazing feeling,” he said. “For us and all of our seniors to push through and go from not winning a game the past three years and sticking it out to make it to state this year, it’s crazy. We’re just really excited to get out there and play again.”
The Jaguars look to continue their underdog success against Rushford-Peterson (11-0).
The Trojans are ranked third in the state in Class A. and come into Friday’s matchup having outscored their opponents 285-68. The Trojans have scored 61 points in the first quarter, 97 in the second, 33 in the third and 94 in the fourth.
In Section 1A, Rushford-Peterson defeated Wabasha-Kellogg 32-6 in the first round before defeating Randolph 21-14 in the semifinals. The Trojans then clinched the section title with a 7-0 win over Fillmore Central.
With a few practices under the team’s belt, Moscho believes BBE is ready for the challenge.
“It’s going to be different,” he said. “There’s probably not going to be 50-plus points on the scoreboard this time around. If it is, great. But if it’s a low-scoring game, our boys are going to have to figure out how to grind it out too.
“We’re used to kind of putting points up fast when we can,” Moscho added. “But we also have to know that defenses are getting tougher and tougher as weeks go by and all of the easy teams are gone.”
Aside from preparing for the Trojans, Dingmann says the team is also preparing for playing in a projected cold and snowy forecast.
“It’s going to be a dog fight,” he said. “Turnovers are going to play a huge role in it, also seeing if we can get the run game going with that cold weather.
“It’s probably going to be a little tough trying to throw the ball in that cold of weather so we’ve got to get that run game going.”
Regardless, Moscho says the Jaguars’ are not ready for winter sports just yet.
“After practice the other night some of them were saying, ‘We’re on the big stage but we want to get the bigger stage,’” he said. “I heard one kid say, ‘Let’s keep going, I don’t want to start wrestling practice yet.’ And another was like, ‘Yup, I don’t want to start basketball.’
“They’re just a fun and happy crew. They’re just living in the moment right now.”
Renville County West (8-3) vs. Hills-Beaver Creek (9-2), 7 p.m. Friday at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall
Mountain Iron-Buhl (9-1) vs. Fertile-Beltrami (11-0), 6 p.m. Thursday at Grand Rapids High School
Kittson County Central (9-2) vs. Ogilvie (7-3), 7 p.m. Friday at Moorhead High School
Wheaton/Herman-Norcross (9-2) vs. LeRoy-Ostrander (9-2), 7 p.m. Thursday at Macalester College in St. Paul
Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa (8-3) vs. Rushford-Peterson (11-0), 7 p.m. Friday at Crown College in St. Bonifacius
Mahnomen-Waubun (9-1) vs. Minneota (11-0), 7 p.m. Friday at Monticello High School
Deer River (11-0) vs. New York Mills (9-1), 7 p.m. Friday at Brainerd High School
Murray County Central (11-0) vs. Mayer Lutheran (10-1), 7 p.m. Friday at Jordan High School
New London-Spicer (6-5) vs. Esko (10-0), 1 p.m. Saturday at Brainerd High School
Fairmont (9-1) vs. Dassel-Cokato (11-0), 11 a.m. Saturday at Prior Lake High School
Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton (9-1) vs. Annandale (8-2), 2 p.m. Saturday at Buffalo High School
Breck (6-4) vs. Plainview-Elgin-Millville (9-2), noon Saturday at Burnsville High School