On the Bench with Byron Higgin

Another showdown with Dawson-Boyd

Life is about to get more stressful for the Minneota Vikings football team. The regular season was a huge success with an 8-0 record and Southwest District West Championship.

They opened the playoffs with a win over Yellow Medicine East on Tuesday — but now it’s Dawson-Boyd. And you know what that means!! The Vikings 47-0 win over the Blackjacks was the only blemish on Dawson-Boyd’s season.

They ran the gamut of six straight after losing to Minneota. And nobody expects a game anything like the first one.

Dawson-Boyd is likely to come in firing with both barrels. In the seven games they won, they outscored opponents 389 to 78, averaged a 54-11 score and shut down a high-wheeling Ortonville squad 48-0 to close out the regular season.

But the Vikings are not taking the Blackjacks lightly. The double-edged sword of runners Bentley Boike and Colton Husby along with quarterback Jake Lee, have vastly improved. Against Ortonville, Boike ran for 123 yards and Husby another 49 with Lee throwing three touchdown passes with 298 yards in the air.

He also ran for a touchdown. A week earlier in a 61-7 route of Yellow Medicine East, Boike ran for 252 yards with five touchdowns.

For the Vikings, much will depend on the line, which held the Blackjacks down last time. If Dawson-Boyd has an Achilles heal, it will be their line. And Minneota hopes to exploit that.

Dawson-Boyd will also have to combat the duel threat of the Hennen brothers. Knowing who is back there throwing and who is out to catch the ball may be a tough matter for the Blackjacks to solve.

Jacob Hennen is back, freeing Thomas Hennen, an excellent receiver, to use his versatility downfield after spending most of the season at quarterback.

It’s likely the Viking coaches will find some unique ways to use the Hennen brothers. And Minneota has its own runner, Cole Sanow, who has passed the 1,000-yard plateau with 1,205 yards in the first eight games.

Minneota’s explosive offense has produced 355 points this year to 99 for opponents, or a 44-9 average per game. They’ve passed 136 times with 71 completions for 1,274 yards and run the ball 279 times for 2,258 yards. That’s a total offense of 3,532 or 441.5 yards per game.

After the annual arch-rival game with Dawson-Boyd, the winner likely will get BOLD and the 8-0 Warriors stats are more staggering than those of either Dawson-Boyd or Minneota. It should be a great Section 5A tournament with the No. 1 (BOLD), No. 2 (Minneota); and No. 3 (Dawson-Boyd) squads all in the running, with all three ranked in state.

Runners big day is Thursday at Luverne

For cross country runners it all comes down to this. Qualify in the top two as a team, qualify as an individual on Thursday at Luverne, or wrap it up for the season.

Canby-Minneota runners have a huge assignment.

For the girls, Lac qui Parle Valley and Luverne LARGE over the field and beating both of them is a big order.

Realistically, the C-M squad hopes to get Grace Drietz into state, then with some luck and a good run McKenzie Ruether, Faith Traen or Braeleyn Merritt will be able to waltz into the state as individuals. The boys may be another story.

Again, Lac qui Parle Valley is the odds on favorite to win the title. However, the C-M boys, with a good solid run and perhaps running “in a pack,” they could get the second spot and get into the state meet at St. Olaf College. Their top five runners lately include Jared Josephson, Jalyn Ufkin, Blake Stoks, Alexander Full and Tristan Bierschenk.

Of-course, in cross country there is always the unexpected — and hope. A lot depends on the weather and how the runners react to it.

Fact is, both the Canby-Minneota teams will be taking a shot at the state meet and good runs could mean individual entries if the teams don’t make it.

It’s been a good season under Coach Allyson Pesek and the runners have had some great runs this year.

Biggest surprises have been Jared Josephson knocking time off his runs and advancing to the top of the C-M field — and the running of rise of seventh grader Braeleyn Merritt into the top five for the C-M girls.

Byron Higgin

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