Archive for HJ Sports

PREP FOOTBALL PREVIEW: Crusaders focused on avoiding midseason slump after hot start

MAYER – Through three weeks of the prep football season, the Mayer Lutheran High School football team has been one of the hottest teams in the area. The Crusaders are off to a 3-0 start, and have won those three games by an average of more than 26 points per a game.

Even with things moving along nicely for the red and black, they know nothing has been won yet. The Crusaders, who return a handful of players from last year’s team, find themselves in the same situation they were in last year.

In the 2016 season, the Crusaders opened up their season with three straight wins before having their momentum snapped in a 53-30 loss to Sibley East on the road. In 2017, Mayer Lutheran will be looking to avoid that midseason slump.

“We talked a lot about how every high school team has that game four, five, or six, where things get a little monotonous,” Mayer Lutheran coach Dean Aurich said. “Maybe even a little boring in practice now that they’re used to doing the same stuff. Then the mental set slips a bit. Our goal is to not have that happen like it happened last year at Sibley East. There were other things involved in it last year, but still, the goal is not to let that momentum slip get us. It’s tough for high school kids sometimes to stay up for every game.”

The idea of a trap game is staring the Crusaders right in the face once again this season after a 3-0 start. Their Week 4 opponents are the Medford Tigers, a team that comes into the matchup with an 0-3 record, yet has been in games all season long.

“We think so,” Aurich said about not taking the Tigers lightly and facing a Class AA school. “They’ve played three close games, but they’ve lost all three games. When we started the year, we thought that Medford and Kenyon-Wanamingo would be a little tougher.”

The Tigers feature an offense that uses multiple formations to keep the defense on their toes. Not only will the Crusaders have to be mentally prepared, but with temperates expected in the 90s for game day, they’ll have to deal with the heat, as well.

“They open it up a lot,” Aurich said. “They’ve got a lot of formations that can give us some issues. We hope things go well, but it’s also supposed to be 90 degrees and hot, so we’ll see how that goes.”

Although the Tigers have yet to win a game this season, they’ve played close games in the first two weeks. In Week 2, Medford gave Kenyon-Wanamingo all they could handle in a one-point loss. K-W is the only other team in the Mid Southeast West district that is undefeated in district play, entering Week 4 along with Mayer Lutheran. If the Crusaders want to improve to 4-0 to start the year and stay atop the district standings, they’ll need to come to play and show what they can do and not rest on their laurels.

“We just don’t know our district well enough, so you just can’t think a team is good or bad because you just don’t know until you’re a couple years into a district,” Aurich said. “Right now, it looks like Kenyon-Wanamingo and Blooming Prairie would be the top. They do a lot of things right on the video. They’re a little unlucky the first couple games. They’ve been in every game quite a way through, which means they’re playing good enough. They get rid of a few mistakes, it’s going to be a really good game. If we make mistakes, it could put us in a bad situation.”

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Friday night at Medford High school.


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PREP VOLLEYBALL: Top-ranked Irish flex their muscles late in win against HLWW

HOWARD LAKE – At about the halfway point in the season, the Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted volleyball team had a good test to see where they are at as a team. Hosting the top-ranked team in Class AA in Maple Lake, the Lakers gave the Irish all they could handle early in the match. After rallying to win set two, the top-ranked Irish flexed their muscles in sets three and four to stay perfect on the season with a 3-1 (25-19, 18-25, 25-15, 25-7).

“What hurts me the most is that we were so capable of beating them,” Lakers coach Brooke Decker said. “We took a set from them, and played with them the first two games. Then we kind of beat ourselves at the end. (I’m) pretty happy with it, and looking forward to the games to come.”

After hanging with the Irish for two sets, the Lakers began to run out of steam down the stretch while the Irish showed why they are the No. 1 ranked team in the state with their talent and depth. Even with the loss, Decker knows where her team is at and is excited to hopefully get a rematch with the Irish come playoff time.

“I just want to be able to have them bounce back and come back stronger for that next game,” Decker said. “We’ll think about what we have to do, because hopefully we’ll meet them later in the playoffs and hopefully we’ll know what this feels like and kind of just roll with it.”

Along with the team playing well at the mid point of the season, senior libero Macee Streich has been a steady force for the Lakers all season long defensively.

“She has been doing awesome this season,” Decker said. “She’s been doing more than I can ask for. She’s definitely taking the libero and senior role to the max level. She’s definitely a big part of our team, and she does a lot for us.”

The Lakers have one day of practice before they head to Dassel-Cokato for a tournament for a full day of volleyball. With that day of practice, the Lakers will be looking to work on small things as a team, and be ready come Saturday morning.

“I think tomorrow we’re just going to work on just connecting with our setter a little bit more,” Decker said. “(We’ll work) on making fewer mistakes in our serving, too.”


Follow Kip Kovar on Twitter on for in-game updates, news, scores, and more on all your favorite local teams.

Twitter: @Kovar_HJSports

DC sophomore from Howard Lake on life support after allergic reaction

WRIGHT COUNTY, MN – A Dassel-Cokato sophomore remained on life support Monday after a severe allergic reaction over the weekend.

Jacob MacDonald of Howard Lake, who plays football and wrestles for the Chargers, had a peanut allergy reaction sometime Saturday evening and was rushed to Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis.

On Monday morning, news hit the DC school district that MacDonald was on life support. After many teammates and friends indicated a desire to visit MacDonald, the DC school administration authorized a bus to bring the students there safely instead of having them all drive separately, said DC Schools Superintendent Jeff Powers.

Many of MacDonald’s friends were able to visit him and with his family. Powers said the district provided support for both the friends who visited, and those who remained at school.

More information will be provided as it arrives.




Mayer Lutheran 39, J-W-P 6

United South Central 22, LP/HT 12

Goodhue 37, Kenyon-Wanamingo 8

St. Clair 31, MN Valley Lutheran 8

Bethlehem Academy 32, Medford 0



Melrose 56, HLWW 0

Eden Valley-Watkins 20, Holdingford 6

Paynesville 54, Rockford 0

Pierz 34, Maple Lake 7



Annandale 34, Foley 14

Delano 21, Glencoe-Silver Lake 9

Holy Family 35, Watertown-Mayer 14

Dassel-Cokato 28, Litchfield 20


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PREP FOOTBALL PREVIEW: Game plan remains the same for Bulldogs against United South Central

LESTER PRAIRIE – If it’s not broken, don’t fix it. That’s the way of thinking for the Lester Prairie/Holy Trinity football team as they head into their matchup against the United South Central Rebels Friday night. The Bulldogs, who enter with a perfect 2-0 record, have done a great job of taking the run away in their first two games, will be looking once again to control the line of scrimmage.

“I think if we can make them pass, we’ve accomplished something,” Bulldogs coach Joe Scoblic said. “They don’t want to pass.”

One key player the Bulldogs’ defense will have to key in on is USC’s Derek Christensen. Christensen, the quarterback for the Rebels, is a tough-nosed runner who has the freedom to run when he wants.

“That quarterback is a really good runner,” Scoblic said. “He’s not as shifty as St. Clair’s, but he reminds me a lot of him. They have designed runs for him. This guy is more of a mauler runner, but fast. They want to run him. They run him on a quarterback dive, they do a boot that’s just designed for him. He doesn’t even look. He just runs around he’s going. If we can make them pass, we’ll have won one of the battles.”

The Rebels aren’t the only team that want to get their running game going. After struggling in the run game Week 1, the Bulldogs got their running game going in Week 2.

“Against St. Clair, we had 300 yards passing and 30 yards running,” Scoblic said. “You got to be able to do one and do the other. That being said, Mike is just playing an unbelievable quarterback right now. He’s so comfortable and cool and calm out there. He’s laying that ball in there when he has to when has to go over a linebacker. We have to establish the run, though. It’s a shame if we don’t. We got two (really) good backs (Dylan Ruzicka and Tyler Scheevel), and they’re fast. We got to get those guys going.”

A big reason for the run game getting going in Week 2 is thanks to the offensive line beginning to gel together.

“We’re still trying to find our line,” Scoblic said. “Nathaniel (Hausladen) got hurt during our first game. He broke his toe, so Beau (Teubert) played last week and he played very well. So it looks like that line is starting to gel a little bit.”

Along with Teubert, the Bulldogs have also got some production from Hunter Lemke on the offensive line.

“Hunter Lemke has stepped in at that right guard spot, and has been solid for two games,” Scoblic said. “All of a sudden, we’re starting to get more solid and more solid. If we get that last tackle spot, and Beau looks like he’s going to earn it, then we should be pretty good.”

The Bulldogs will have some extra excitement around the game as its their first ever Tackle Cancer Night. Fans are encouraged to wear pink to the game to support breast cancer awareness, and there will be a pulled pork meal served before hand, as well. Proceeds from the night will be donated to the Randy Shaver Cancer Research and Community Fund.

“We don’t need another homecoming game, but it will be exciting,” Scoblic said. “We’ve never done a “Tackle Cancer” night before. We had a big kickoff on Monday in the gym and each day we wear a different color. It will be fun for the boys, but it’s a serious thing. We had a raise of hands of who all had cancer in their family. We had the whole student body, and I’m sure 80-90 percent of the kids raised their hand that they’ve had something to do with cancer in their lives, so it will be good.”

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. in Lester Prairie Friday night with the pulled pork meal before hand.

PREP FOOTBALL PREVIEW: Royals need to get offense rolling against Holy Family

WATERTOWN – It’s no secret that the strength of the Watertown-Mayer football team is their defense. Through two games, the Royals have forced eight turnovers, including five against Glencoe-Silver Lake last week in their 27-14 loss.

Despite the strong showing on defense, the Royals know they need to get their offense going. It doesn’t get much easier as starting quarterback Jackson Lague, who was pulled in the second half against G-SL last week with a back injury, might be limited in what he can do Friday night against the Fire.

“Jack had a little bit of a back problem, so it was a little more injury than it was him getting pulled in the second half,” Royals coach Nick Urban said. “We’ll evaluate this week and see how he’s feeling.”

Sophomore Ansen Dulas took over for Lague in the second half against G-SL. He completed two out of his five passes for 45 yards, and had the only offensive touchdown for the Royals on a 25-yard pass to Jacob Hanley. With Lague dealing with a minor injury, Dulas may be counted on once again in Week 3.

“We’re going to expect that both of them will get some snaps this week going into Friday night,” Urban said. “We’ll see how he is this week in practice, and see who gets the majority of the reps come Friday night. It will determine on his wealth and how he’s able to practice this week.”

Despite who is at quarterback, the defense will need to continue to play well. The Fire, who have opened the season with two-straight wins, are averaging 27.5 points a game coming into the matchup. If the Royals want to stay in it, their defense has to be up to the challenge and be prepared for whatever the Fire throw at them.

“Holy Family poses a lot of challenges in preparation,” Urban said. “They have a lot of different offensive sets. They’ll go five-wide and four-wide. They’ll come up with some different formations that are unique and unusual. It really puts a lot of focus on us for making sure we’re prepared for Friday night. When it comes down to it, you watch a lot of film and they still want to be a running team. We got to be able to stop that Friday night.”

Holy Family’s Nick Hendler will be a key player to focus on for the Royals’ defense. Hendler is averaging 102.5 yards per a game so far this season, and is a tough runner.

“They’ve done a really nice job running the ball in their two games this year so far,” Urban said. “They got some good speed. Not only at running back, but at quarterback, as well. Even on the edge, they got some really talented athletes that do a nice job of getting out in space. Stoping the run is always the real big key especially in the district that we play in. If you can stop the run and make teams one-dimensional, it sort of becomes pretty apparent how big of a focus that is for teams”

The Royals will also be on the road for the first time this season, something Urban hopes his players will be ready for and excited for.

“Every time you go on the road for the first time you’re never really sure what you’re going to get,” Urban said. “You try to keep your schedule consistent as possible, and try to keep the pre-game stuff consistent as you can. You just try to focus them all week on going on the road, and the backs against the wall mentality. You have to be mentally prepared for it. I’m sure Holy Family will be excited to have us in there on Friday night with the atmosphere that it’s like. We got to be prepared to rise to that level physically and mentally come Friday night. It’s always a tough challenge, but it’s one of those fun things about Friday nights. Just going into someone else’s place and take on that challenge.”

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Holy Family Friday night.