Kyle Stevens is a sports reporter for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, Kyle worked at the Owatonna People’s Press, as well as KWLM and KLFN in Willmar. You can contact Kyle by phone at (651) 301-7879, via e-mail at email@example.com, and follow him on Twitter @RE_KStevens.
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MAZEPPA — Two of the top three teams in Class A squared off on Friday, a day later than scheduled thanks to ice and an overcoat of snow making travel inadvisable on Thursday. But nothing was going to thaw the tension between No. 1 Zumbrota-Mazeppa and No. 3 Goodhue. Though neither team was likely to deploy any tactics, or expose any weakness, with just a month to go before the Section 1A tournament that is likely to end with the Cougars and Wildcats squaring off for a trip to state, both teams came in with certain expectations.
Due to imminent winter weather, several area schools have announced closings Thursday, Jan. 11. Alma (Wis.), Goodhue, Lake City, Elmwood, Plum City (Wis.) and Zumbrota-Mazeppa have all canceled classes. Red Wing has declared classes two hours late, with additional assessment coming tomorrow morning. Check back for more closings as the storm rolls in. *Ellsworth (Wis.) was inadvertantly added earlier. As of 9:25 p.m., Ellsowrth is in session.
ZUMBROTA — This is a season of new for Zumbrota-Mazeppa. There's a new coach, in Andy Bromeling, and a new system that Bromeling has installed. The Cougars are now an up-tempo team that likes to shoot a lot of 3-pointers when they're not zipping to the rim off the fast break. Now, with the holidays in the past, and the halfway point of the season coming up, Z-M should be rounding into form for the stretch run.
LAKE CITY — Tuesday's game between Lake City and Rochester Lourdes looked like a good matchup on paper. The Tigers, ranked eighth in Class AA, were coming off a what-could've-been loss to third-ranked Caledonia, and the Eagles came in unbeaten over the season's first five games. But by the time the first six minutes expired, Lake City had Lourdes on its heels, and the Tigers were ready to run the Eagles out of the gym and back home. Instead, Lake City ran away with an 85-65 victory that featured some of the worst basketball the Tigers have played.
A quick glance at Red Wing's gymnastics roster does a pretty good job explaining what kind of season this will be for the Wingers. There are nine eighth-graders, three freshmen and a handful of sophomores. And there are more seventh-graders (two) than there are juniors and seniors combined (zero).
It's the end of an era in Goodhue. Next fall, head football coach Tony Poncelet will open the season with a running back likely short on varsity experience at the position. And for the first time in a half-decade, the name that gets called over and over on the PA speaker won't be "Huemann." Well, probably not.
Overtime hockey is one of the best things about sports. A thrill-a-second battle to end the game with one shot. It doesn't have to be a pretty goal, all that matters is that the puck finds the net. Red Wing played three overtime games in last year's Section 1A playoffs. That the Wingers' season ended there, and not at the state tournament, is because Northfield scored 20 seconds into the second extra period. And with that Raider goal, the careers of Seth Cushing, Tyler DeFore and the rest of the Red Wing seniors came to an end.
For perhaps the first time in his long tenure, Scott Haley is going deep into his system in November. The Red Wing girls hockey coach has been blessed with high-end talent for much of his time guiding the Wingers, but that often came with a short bench. This season, Haley has a front-runner for Ms. Hockey, and a support group that will roll 11 others over the board that are more than capable of holding their own.
ROCHESTER — Goodhue has weapons on offense. Running back Mason Huemann may not hit a bunch of home runs, but rare is the carry where the senior loses yards. Quarterback Jack Gadient can run and throw, and when he airs it out, fellow senior Ryan Schoenfelder is as tough a matchup as there is in the area.
ROCHESTER — Hayley Dessner was going to be a problem, but Dave Lyons knew that. What the Red Wing volleyball coach did not know was that his team would struggle as bad as it did. In their Sub-section 1AA-East semifinal, the Wingers put together perhaps their most complete match of the season. But Thursday's final was anything but, and that resulted in a 3-1 (25-20, 20-25, 25-15, 26-24) victory for Plainview-Elgin-Millville.