5 Teams To Watch In 2013

January 11, 2013

As we’ve gotten through the holiday tournaments and the new year has rolled over, the winter sports seasons are taking shape. Here are some of the teams to watch in 2013.

Boys Hockey

Let’s start with the team that will probably do the most damage in the playoffs. #1 Saint Thomas Academy (11-1-1) is off to their best start in five years. And this is despite playing possibly the toughest schedule in the state. That included five games that were against opponents who were ranked in the top three of Class AA at the time of the game. In the next 20 days, the Cadets will play Shattuck, Hill-Murray (#1 AA), Breck (#3 A), and Totino-Grace (#2 A), so needless to say, they will be well prepared for the playoffs. Saint Thomas Academy can get goals from any line. Their defense is solid and David Zevnik is stout back in the net, as the Cadets have the lowest goals against average in the state (1.1). Saint Thomas will be making the jump to Class AA next year, but before they do that, they look to add a third straight Class A title and a fifth in the last eight years.

Girls Hockey

After being upset in the first round of the playoffs last year, St. Paul United (9-8-0) has come back this season with a chip on their shoulder. Yes the Spartans have eight losses, but four of those have come to teams currently ranked in the top 7 of class A. They’ve already beaten Section 4A foes Henry Sibley, Simley, Mahtomedi, Totino-Grace, and Minnehaha by a combined score of 22-2. They play #8 South St. Paul on January 15, and a win over the Packers should clinch the #1 seed for the section tournament. Alev Baysoy (16 goals/9 assists) leads the way for a United team that should be playing in the section final next month.

However, Section 4A is #8 South St. Paul’s (8-6-3) to lose until proven otherwise. The Packers started off slow, rolling into the new year below .500 for the first time in a long time, but they have caught fire since losing to Hibbing/Chisolm in the first round of the Kaposia Classic. Since then they’ve rattled off four straight, including wins over Blake (#3 A), Roseville (#10 AA), and Hill-Murray (#6 AA). They get scoring from a lot of different girls, and the defense/goaltending is coming around with the Packers allowing a shade over one goal a game over the last nine contests.

Boys Basketball

After a few lean years, Henry Sibley (8-4) basketball is back making some noise. Led by senior Adam Huessner (16 ppg), the Warriors are off to a solid start as the conference season gets rolling. With wins over Saint Thomas and Simley, Henry Sibley almost knocked off #7 Tartan (9-1) earlier this week. The Warriors have a good balance of perimeter and post players and can get contribution from a lot of different starters and bench players. They should finish in the top three of the Classic Suburban Conference, but it will be tough to get out of Section 3AAAA with Tyus Jones and Apple Valley in their way.

Girls Basketball

Of the local teams, Simley (9-4) is the best bet to make it to state. The Spartans have size in the frontcourt, speed in the backcourt, depth, and despite their youth, lots of experience. They fell out of the top ten AAA rankings in mid December after back to back losses, but the Spartans have already beat #5 Richfield and #9 Benilde-St. Margaret’s. Their four losses have come by a total of 14 points to teams with a combined winning percentage of .667%. Twin towers Abby Kain and Kyle Brown are averaging double-doubles inside, while Aejah Lockett provides the Spartans with a threat from downtown. Simley will contend for a conference title, but need to make a postseason statement after disappointing playoff exits the last two years.


2012 Prep Football Preview

August 22, 2012

High School football camps kicked off practice last Monday all around Northern Dakota County. I got a chance to visit each team, and talk to all the local coaches to get the inside scoop on the upcoming season.

SportsZone: 2012 Football Preview Show

Head Coach: Carl Lemke
Last Season: 14-0, Class AAA State Champions

The 2011 season for the Crusaders was nothing short of absolutely dominant. Their stout defense was overshadowed by an offense who could score at will and pile up a ridiculous amount of yards. The Crusaders lost QB Matt Olson, RB Wesley Tucker, and stud off/def lineman Eric Montgomery to graduation. But reigning Minnesota Coach of the Year Carl Lemke is ready to reload and lead another squad out on the field.

Jackson Goplen returns to anchor both the offense (RB) and defense (LB), and should have no problem rushing for over 1000 yards.  Lincoln Hochmuth has huge shoes to fill at the QB spot, but will have lots of weapons to help. Besides having Goplen to hand the ball to, Hochmuth has Cody Sticha as a deep threat at WR. The Crusaders lost some great players, but still have a ton of talent and are the early favorites to represent Section 4AAA in the State Tournament.

Game of the Week: Week 2 vs Blake, Week 7 vs St. Anthony Village

Head Coach: Chad Sexauer
Last Season: 10-2, Lost to Mankato West in State Quarterfinals

I’m not sure if any of our five teams lost as much talent as South St. Paul. Offensively, it will be a challenge to see if the Packers can reload at key positions. Junior Billy Brandecker looks to be the lead candidate at the QB spot, and RB Jake Hill looked pretty solid last season when he was called on in the playoffs. On the defensive side, look no further than lineman Preston Woods. Just a junior, Woods might be the best defensive player in the conference and will be a nightmare for opposing offensive lines. The Packer defense overall will be good, probably not as dominant as last year, but still very solid. With realignment, the Packers find themselves in a section with unfamiliar teams (besides Hill-Murray), but are looking like the team to beat early on.

Game of the Week: Week 4 at Mahtomedi, Week 8 vs Saint Thomas Academy

Head Coach: Dave Ziebarth
Last Season: 9-1, Lost to South St. Paul in Section Final

Last season probably couldn’t have ended any worse for the Cadets. They were one play away from their 21st trip to the state tournament, but lost in overtime to the rival Packers. They come into the season 62-9 over the last six years, and 31-3 over the last three. They have a 30 game winning streak in the regular season, dating back to Week 2 of 2008. And they look to once again be a force in 2012.

The story is the same at Saint Thomas Academy. They once again lost a ton of talent, but as always, have plenty of guys ready to step in. At QB will be senior Keegan Zimprich, who will provide great size and experience to the position. Fellow senior Nick Waldvogel is back to cause headaches for opposing defenses and special teams. On the other side, the linebacking and defensive back core should be very strong this year with guys like Parker Chapman, Ben Williams, and Danny McManus. After the big shakeup in the offseason, the Cadets find themselves up in Class 5A in a section with no Holy Angels or South St. Paul. Right now it looks like a trip back to the Dome in November should be a very good possibility.

Game of the Week: Week 5 vs Mahtomedi, Week 8 vs South St. Paul

Head Coach: Rex King
Last Season: 4-6, Lost to Saint Thomas Academy in Section Semifinals

After going 3-15 the previous two years, the Spartans had a nice bounce back season in 2011, which included a solid playoff win over St. Louis Park in the section quarters. And it will be the first time for any of the players that they’ve had the same head coach two years in a row. Nick Wanzek is back under center, and is actually one of the more experienced QBs in the conference. Mack Short and Jake Short will provide the speed and the punch to the Spartan running game. And like last year, the defense should be a hard-hitting unit. Simley moves up to with Saint Thomas Academy (and Henry Sibley), but size wise they might be the smallest school in 5A. However, if things go right, the Spartans could contend for the 3 seed in Section 5AAAAA and could battle their way back to the section final.

Game of the Week: Week 6 at Henry Sibley

Head Coaches: Tom Orth, Stan Eskierka
Last Season: 1-8, Lost to Holy Angels in Section Quarterfinals

The Warriors are in roughly the same position Simley was in to start the 2011 season. Wins have been tough to come by the last couple of years, and it might be another tough season for Henry Sibley. Stan Eskierka’s son, Jackson, will take over for three-year starter Dante Grant at QB and looks to have a good arm with good accuracy, and he should know the system very well. The Warriors will have work to do on both sides of the ball, but there are some winnable games on the schedule, and if they can win a few games like Simley did last year it should be a step in the right direction.

Game of the Week: Week 6 vs Simley

Local Cagers Eye State Tourney

February 17, 2012

As the basketball section tournaments creep closer and closer, a pair of boys hoops teams have put themselves in position to make a run at the state tournament.

SAINT CROIX LUTHERAN 16-6 (9-4 Conference /10-1 Section)

After starting the season 5-4, the Crusaders have gone on an absolute tear by winning 11 of the last 13 games. They don’t have the best record in the Tri-Metro Conference, and probably won’t even win the East, but they seem to be getting better as the playoffs approach and most importantly, have been taking care of business where it matters.

4AA isn’t going to come up in any discussions about tough sections, but St. Croix Lutheran has stormed to a 10-1 record in the section with four games left on the schedule. If the season ended today, the Crusaders would be the #1 seed. The game to watch left on the schedule is the February 21 showdown at Concordia Academy. The Beacons beat St. Croix 59-51 six weeks ago, but the Crusaders are 11-2 since then with big wins over Minnehaha Academy and St. Anthony Village.

Even with a loss to Concordia (which I don’t think will happen), the Crusaders should have secured one of the top two seeds and will be a favorite to reach the section final at site neutral Holy Angels.

The Crusader starting five all average between 11-13 points so they don’t give defenses anyone to focus on shutting down. Four of those starters were huge pieces on the football championship last fall so they will be used to the pressures of the playoffs. If head coach Lucas Boehm can keep his team focused and playing smart basketball, they should roll through the section.

Prediction: St. Croix Lutheran locks down the #1 seed next week and wins the section to get to the state tournament for the first time in school history.

SAINT THOMAS ACADEMY 13-7 (9-3 Conference / 5-0 Section)

The Cadets are in a very familiar position as the Crusaders. They started the season 4-4 and have rattled off a 9-3 stretch since. They won’t win the Classic Suburban, but they are one of the top teams in a very deep conference as their #6 ranked QRF in Class AAA suggests.

They are undefeated in Section 4AAA and can probably clinch the #1 seed with a win over Hill-Murray in two weeks. At the very least, that win would secure a top two seed. Of course this could all be moot since the semifinals and final are played at Washington Middle School (formerly Arlington H.S.).

Saint Thomas Academy is led by Thomas Sjoberg, a lanky senior who can score from the inside or outside. But the Cadets have a lot of other players who can put the ball in the bucket and like always, can light it up from beyond the arc. They’ve got good size in the post and a lot of slashers who can get to the hoop to make them a dangerous team on offense.

If the Cadets can get through this fairly deep section, who knows what can happen in the state tournament in the wide open Class AAA. In the last five years Coach Mike Sjoberg has gotten a state championship and a runner-up finish, so he knows what it takes to win, so the Cadets have that going for them.

Prediction: Same as the Crusaders, Cadets lock up the #1 seed in the rematch at Hill and win a close section final to get back to state.

Section 4AAA Up For Grabs

January 29, 2012

The last week of girls hoops has really made things interesting in both the Classic Suburban Conference and in Section 4AAA.

A year ago, Hill-Murray entered the 4AAA playoffs a perfect 26-0 as the obvious favorite in an extremly weak section. They won their two section games by a combined 76 points and then went on to be runner up at State.

This year, the section is a lot stronger with improved South St. Paul, Highland Park, and Visitation squads, and Simley joining from 1AAA. Hill-Murray is down a bit but this is looking to be a three team race with an all important #1 seed on the line down the stretch in the regular season.

Just a week ago, Hill-Murray appeared to be that clear cut #1 leaving a handful of other teams left to fight it out for the remaining seven spots. However on Friday, the Simley Spartans rolled into Maplewood and upset the Pioneers 59-56 led by 18 points from Alexis Boyd-Lockett.

So that win put Simley (15-1) in the advantage for the top spot with South St. Paul (13-3) coming to town four days later. A second straight win over a section foe would put the Spartans in great shape with the playoffs approaching, but the Packers had other ideas.

However, Shammara Christian led a relentless SSP defense and jumped out to a lead that the Spartans could never recover from. Mackenzie Garibay led the Packers offense with 18 in a 46-37 SSP win.

With a month to go in the regular season, it’s anybody’s guess who will emerge with the top seed for Section 4AAA. As of right now, here are the standings with (section records):

South St. Paul 15-3 (5-0)
Simley 15-3 (3-1)
Hill-Murray 13-6 (1-1)
Highland Park 10-3 (3-1)
Visitation 10-8 (1-2)
St. Paul Johnson 5-10 (1-2)
St. Paul Como Park 6-9 (1-3)
St. Paul Harding 0-13 (0-5)

My gut still tells me that the Pioneers will win this section, but the last week has blown the lid off this section and made it a free for all. It’s still going to come down to who can beat who at Washington Middle School in the playoffs, but here’s the big matchups to watch on the calender:

Jan 31 – HM @ SSP
Feb 7 – Highland Park @ Visitation
Feb 14 – SSP @ HM
Feb 21 – HM @ Simley
Feb 24 – Simley @ SSP

The #1 seed in this tournament will be big, and it should be a fun battle down the stretch to see who gets it.


MSHSL Stiffens Penalties Effective Immediately

January 16, 2012

In the wake of the hockey injuries to Jack Jablonski and Jenna Privette, the Minnesota State High School League has made changes effective immediately in an effort to make the sport safer. Here are some notes from the release sent out by the MSHSL over the weekend:

The penalties for three infractions of the rules have been significantly increased in an effort to thwart players from making dangerous hits on the ice.

Checking from behind, which formerly called for a two-minute minor penalty plus a 10-minute misconduct penalty, will now become a five-minute major penalty plus a 10-minute misconduct penalty. The existing also states that any check from behind that is deemed “flagrant or causes the player to crash headfirst into the boards or goal frame” will continue be a game disqualification. The disqualified player cannot re-enter that game and cannot play in the next scheduled game either.

 Boarding, defined as a “check, cross-check, elbow, charge or trip” that sends an opponent “violently into the boards” now becomes an automatic major penalty — five minutes — instead of the option of either a two-minute minor penalty or a five-minute major penalty. The existing rule that also states that any boarding check that “causes the player to crash headfirst into the boards” may qualify for a game disqualification. The disqualified player cannot re-enter that game and cannot play in the next scheduled game either.

 Contact to the head also now becomes an automatic major penalty — five minutes — instead of the option of either a two-minute minor penalty or a five-minute major penalty. The rule states, “No player shall make contact with an opposing player’s head or neck area in any manner.” Officials still have the option of assessing a disqualification penalty if warranted, and in that case the disqualified player cannot re-enter that game and cannot play in the next scheduled game either.

The coaches need to accept the stiffer penalties and need to instruct their players the proper and legal ways of making contact with opponents. The officials need to make the calls and when the calls are made, they need to be supported by not only the coaches, but also by the players and the fans.

“Hockey is a great game, and when it is played the way it should be played, it should be a safe game,” said Craig Perry, League associate director who oversees hockey. “The advisory committee’s recommendations and our Board’s support of the action continue our efforts to protect the kids on the ice, efforts that have been in place for a number of years.

The full release can be found on www.mshsl.org .

Big Shakeup for Football in 2012

December 1, 2011

With the Prep Bowl champs crowned this past weekend, it’s never too early to look ahead to next year. And next year, the addition of Class 6A, aka the “Big School Class”,  is going to bring some big changes to the football landscape across Minnesota. The classes were realigned by school enrollment, but teams can also opt up into a bigger class if they wish. So 9-Man, Class A, and Class AA will remain relatively the same with a handful of teams moving up. St. Croix Lutheran is the only local team to stay put so we’ll start with them and work our way up.


The big changes start in Class AAA. The number of teams goes from 65 to 52. So that’s 13 less teams to compete with for a state title. The Crusaders section drops to seven so whoever gets the #1 seed gets a bye and an extra four days to rest up before their first playoff game. St. Croix Lutheran will lose a lot of talent next year, but they should be the early favorite to get back to state. Below is Section 4AAA for 2012 with this year’s records.


Cannon Falls (4-5)
Columbia Heights (0-9)
Concordia Academy (6-4)
Minneapolis Edison (2-7 in AA)
Minneapolis Roosevelt (NA)
Minnehaha Academy (6-4)
Saint Croix Lutheran (14-0)

Notable teams leaving AAA: Holy Family, DeLaSalle, Zimmerman


The number of teams stays basically the same, dropping from 51 to 49, but this class also sees major changes as teams shift up. South St. Paul remains as the only local school in AAAA as they slide over to section 4. With half of the section coming up from AAA, the road to state gets a lot easier for the Packers. And with no Cadets constantly standing in their way, a new rivalry with Hill-Murray looks to be in the works.


Hill-Murray (9-3)
New Life Academy (3-6 in AAA)
St. Paul Como Park (2-7 in AAA)
St. Paul Johnson (4-5 in AAA)
St. Paul Harding (5-4)
South St. Paul (10-2)

Notable teams leaving AAAA: Saint Thomas Academy, Mankato West, Rogers, Spring Lake Park, Bemidji


Saint Thomas Academy, Henry Sibley, and Simley all make the jump together and land in the same section. And although the Raider program is down, the rivalry with Hastings will be renewed. East Ridge finally gets away from Cretin-Derham Hall and looks to make their first section final appearance ever.  Overall, the number of teams in this class drops from 57 to 48 so one out of every six teams will make the state tournament.


East Ridge (3-7)
Hastings (2-7)
Henry Sibley (1-8 in AAAA)
Saint Thomas Academy (9-1 in AAAA)
Simley (4-6 in AAAA)
Tartan (4-5)

Notable teams leaving AAAAA: Anoka, Blaine, Cretin-Derham Hall, Eden Prairie, Edina, Lakeville North, Lakeville South, Minnetonka, Mounds View, Osseo, Stillwater, Wayzata


32 teams will make up the top class next year. Four sections of eight (Sections 3, 4, 5, and 6). First round will be as normal (#1 vs #8, #2 vs #7, etc). Second round will take the four winners and match them up cross-section. For example, highest seed from Section 3 will play the lowest seed from Section 4. Sections 5 and 6 will be paired up and the pairing will rotate every two years. The winners of the second round advance to the state tournament where they will be seeded #1-#4 and their opponents will be determined by random draw. The state tournament will play out as normal from there.


I’m not exactly sure what was the motivation for these changes. This makes seven total classes and means that, on average, one out of every 6.8 teams across Minnesota will make the state tournament. In the top class, one out of four will go. I think this is just too many teams getting to state. While making it will be great, there will be many schools who will get there by merely beating a mediocre team and then a good team. The real accomplishment now will be making it to the Metrodome.

I love the new section/state playoff formula for Class 6A since it means getting a better state tournament field and the state seedings should make the final four at the Dome a lot stronger. If it goes well, it would be great if they started doing this in more classes. But this also means that there will be no “big school” games on the first Tuesday of playoffs, more section finals will be watered down, and in the case of the top class, no section finals at all.

I know we just wrapped up the 2011 season, but it’s never too early to start discussing the controversy for 2012, right?

Crusaders Bring Title to West St. Paul

November 28, 2011

After over 7500 yards and 651 points scored throughout the season, it came down to the St. Croix defense to decide the Class AAA State Championship. With Eric Montgomery chasing Fairmont QB Ben Kain out of the pocket and forcing him to throw on the run, Matt Olson batted down Kain’s pass on a two point conversion to secure the 34-32 win for the Crusaders.

The game started out in a very unCrusaderlike fashion with St. Croix going 3 and out on their first possession and then fumbling the ball away to Fairmont on their second, which led to a Cardinal touchdown and a 7-0 lead. Things finally got back to normal for the Crusaders on their third possession as Wesley Tucker took the handoff 69 yards to pay dirt on the first play.

The fireworks continued early in the second quarter when Kain hooked up with Bryce Holm for the first time of the afternoon, good for a 50-yard score. Penalties plagued the Crusaders in the first half, and after back to back mistakes on their next possession, St. Croix was looking at 1st and 30 from their own 18. They decided to steer away from the veer and ran a reverse to Zach Tietz who rumbled 70 yards down to the Fairmont 12. Four plays later Olson scored and a successful two point conversion made it 14-14 and that’s where the score would stand at the half.

After forcing the Cardinals to a 3 and out to start the third, the Crusaders drive stalled and they were forced to punt. But a fumbled punt return gave St. Croix the ball back in Fairmont territory. Once again the Crusaders just needed one play as Jackson Goplen took a pitch and raced around the outside and down the sideline 29 yards for a score. That would be all of the scoring for the third quarter, but it would set the stage for a wild and crazy fourth.

Staring at a 4th and 25 from the Crusader 28, a scrambling Kain hit Holm for their second touchdown of the day and cut the lead to 22-20. The Cardinals got the ball back on a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and this time they brought out the quick strike offense as Kain found Holm in the end zone again and Fairmont regained the lead 26-22.

The Crusaders were once again fairly uncharacteristic of themselves as their next drive grinded out over 5 minutes but left them staring at a 4th and 7 at the Fairmont 28. Carl Lemke and the Crusader coaching staff decided to pull out something new and saw their offense pull off what could have been the play of the season for St. Croix. Olson took the snap, faked a handoff up the gut to Tucker, and then faked the reverse to Tietz before tucking the ball to his gut and turning his back the opposite way of the play. The entire Fairmont defense went at Tietz as Olson turned back around and chucked the ball downfield to a wide open Goplen to put St. Croix back on top.

But it took Fairmont all of three plays to get on the doorstep of the end zone. Just when it looked like the Cardinals were going to score again, a bad snap shot straight up and Eric Montgomery busted through the offensive line to snag it out of mid-air.

The Crusaders had the lead, and the ball, with 2:28 on the clock. All they had left to do was pick up a couple of first downs and run out the clock, but ironically, the powerful offense almost sunk St. Croix’s title chances. Tucker exploded through the line on the first play and rumbled 40 yards into Fairmont territory. Two plays later Goplen found daylight of his own and raced 36 yards to score the apparent clincher. The problem was, it wasn’t, and the Crusaders were stuffed on the 2-pt conversion. That put the score 34-26 and the kickoff put the ball in Kain’s hands with 1:39 on the clock and only 59 yards to go.

16 yard completion. 4 yard completion. 15 yard run. 18 yard completion. 1:39 was plenty of time for Fairmont as Kain finished the quick drive to Holm in the end zone for the 4th time. 34-32, two point conversion pending with 0:08 left.

Kain took the snap as Eric Montgomery blew up the left side of the offensive line. Kain rolled to his right as his receivers broke pattern in the end zone and rolled back with him. He floated the ball towards Holm who was surrounded by a sea of red. But Matt Olson was there to knock the ball down to preserve the lead.

A failed onside kick and one final kneel down secured the Class AAA Championship for the Crusaders. They finished 14-0. They scored over 650 points. They racked up over 7500 yards in offense. But in the end, it was the defense that brought St. Croix Lutheran’s first state title to West St. Paul.

Town Square Television will be replaying KSTC-45’s coverage of the St. Croix Lutheran vs. Fairmont title game next Tuesday, December 6th, at 7:00 on Channel 14.

Live Games Reach Overseas

November 10, 2011

On August 25th Town Square Television went live on Game of the Week for the first time in over a decade. It was a girls soccer match between Simley and South St. Paul to kick off the 2011 fall sports season.

We got a paltry 11 hits that day.

Little did we know, our LIVE coverage would end up reaching places we never expected. Two months later we were back at Ettinger Field with a trip to the state tournament on the line for the Packers, and viewers were watching. They were watching all across the country, and all across the world…..


Hey Toby,

My name is Adam Sethre.  I believe you spoke with my dad  the other night at the South St Paul vs New Life Academy girls soccer game.  My sister is Alicia, the starting goalie for the Packers.  I am actually in the Navy and have been for almost the past 5 years.  I did a service project with yall when I was in 8th grade.  I was hooked up by a guy whose last name was Conlon.  I forget his first name, but when my dad mentioned your name I said to myself, hey I know that guy. I’m currently on deployment supporting operation New Dawn and operation Enduring Freedom, far away from the states, and I was able to watch that soccer game via internet yesterday night.  Just wanted to say I appreciate what you do, and for letting me watch my sisters soccer game 9 time zones away.  Thanks again, and have a great day!!!!


SSP and SCL One Game From the Dome

November 7, 2011

One more round of playoffs, one more team eliminated. For the first time in five years, Town Square Television gets two teams to the state tournament.


#3 South St. Paul 32 @ #1 Saint Thomas Academy 31 in Overtime

One of the best games I’ve seen in 10+ years of covering high school football. The Packers were down 10-24 midway through the 4th quarter. They drove to score a touchdown, missed a PAT, got an onside kick, converted a 4th and 18, punched in another touchdown, converted the 2-point conversion, blocked a FG to force overtime, gave up seven points, scored a touchdown, and then converted another 2-point conversion to go to state.

Did you follow all of that?


#2 St. Anthony 0 @ #1 St. Croix Lutheran 46

I’m not sure what’s more impressive: The 46 point win, or the 0 points allowed to the #2 seed in the section final. The 0 points allowed is what leads me to believe that the Crusaders are going to win a state championship this year. St. Croix Lutheran wins big again as Wesley Tucker rushes for four touchdowns.

State Quarterfinal Preview:

2AAAA Mankato West {10-0) vs 3AAAA South St. Paul (10-1)
These might be the two best teams in the state tournament in Class AAAA, but this is a tough matchup for the Packers. Future Gopher QB Philip Nelson will go after the SSP secondary all night as the Packers are big ‘dogs in this one.

1AAA Plainview-Elgin-Millville (11-0) vs 4AAA St. Croix Lutheran (11-0)
It’s #1 vs #2 as the only two remaining unbeatens in AAA square off in the quarters. Why MSHSL, Why? I’ve got the Crusaders winning by two touchdowns.

Blazers Sweep 4AA To Get Back To State

November 5, 2011

Tri-Metro Conference? Check.

#1 Seed for 4AA Tournament? Check.

Section playoff sweep? Check.

State Championship?

For the second year in a row the Visitation Blazers ran the table in the Tri-Metro Conference and have returned to take another crack at the state tournament. The Blazers are now 25-0 against conference foes over the past two seasons, and an incredible 75-3 in games in those matches. A win over St. Croix Lutheran on Thursday night capped a perfect 9 game sweep of the Section 4AA tournament to get Visitation back to the XCel Energy Center for the third time in five years.

In 2007 the Blazers were swept by both St. Cloud Cathedral and Jordan.

Last year, Visitation drew the #1 seed Hutchinson Tigers and were swept to the consolation round. They would beat Esko and then lose to Marshall to claim 6th at state.

This year, they hope to go even further. So far the Blazers are the only team to punch their ticket to state in Class AA. The rest of the field will be determined on Saturday. Depending how the other section finals play out, Visitation could end up being one of the four seeded teams. The Blazers will have their hands full though as all of the teams that reach the X are quality.

Working in the Blazers favor though is big game experience from a variety of classes: Seniors Katie Suplee and Samantha Dumler, Juniors Kayla Adducci and Anne Debertin, and Sophomores Elsa Ayotte and Mary Mullen. They all played big minutes in the state tournament last year and shouldn’t have to worry about the jitters this time around.

The brackets will be announced Sunday but the Blazers should be able to make a legitimate run at a state title. Town Square Television will be on hand for the quarterfinals for Game of the Week.