Joe Brown is a regional editor for RiverTown Multimedia. Prior to becoming regional editor, he was the sports editor of the Red Wing Republican Eagle from 2012-2018. He also worked as the sports editor for the Marshall Independent (2010-2012) and as a sports/news clerk for the St. Cloud Times (2008-2009). He graduated from St. Cloud State University with a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication.
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PINE ISLAND — The first word that came to Josh Navratil's mind was intensity. Intensity, the Pine Island junior running back/linebacker said, is what helped the Panthers to a four-game winning streak midway through the season, including a 14-9 victory over then-fourth-ranked Stewartville. In Wednesday's Week 8 matchup with Rochester Lourdes, it took a while before Pine Island ratcheted up the intensity. And the Eagles took advantage by accounting for the game's first five scores in a 31-15 victory over the Panthers in Southeast Red District play.
ZUMBROTA — An 0-3 start could have been the death knell to an otherwise promising season for Zumbrota-Mazeppa. But, this is a Cougars team that reached the Section 1AA championship game a year ago. They knew they were talented, even if the standings didn't show it. And in the second half of the season, Z-M is on a mission to prove they are still a contender.
Courtney Korder was not going to miss his last homecoming. A spiral fracture in his hand during Week 1 required three screws and surgery, keeping the Red Wing senior defensive lineman off the field. Korder was antsy to get on the field. So after missing four games and having his hand completely taped over, he was going to take his place across from the Faribault offensive line. "Today, I put my cast on and I knew I was going to play good," Korder said. "I was going to make every single tackle I could get."
With inclement weather threatening much of southeast Minnesota on Friday night, Cannon Falls has pushed its homecoming football game back a day. Bombers head football coach Dan Meyers announced via e-mail Friday afternoon that his team's game against Triton will be moved to 7 p.m. Saturday at John Burch Park in Cannon Falls.
GOODHUE — Goodhue football knows one mode: Attack. They're happy to ground and pound. They can throw. They're happy to throw a few wrinkles in the playbook to keep you on your toes. "We don't like to be a one-dimensional team," said senior wide receiver Mariano Bigalk. "Any formation, any plays we can sneak in there, that's how we are." And with seventh-ranked (Class 1A) Blooming Prairie visiting on Friday, the Wildcats used all facets of its attack to tame the Awesome Blossoms.
In a short time, Jeyson Roque has found a way to be an impact player for the Red Wing boys' soccer team. Just a freshman, Roque is the Wingers' top goal-scorer with six goals and three assists in 11 games. While Red Wing sits with a 2-9 record, the team's offense has a stronger pulse this season with 19 goals in 11 games, compared to 22 goals in 18 games last fall. In just 11 games, Roque's natural ability as a feared playmaker and scorer are apparent.
CANNON FALLS — Cannon Falls' goal is to leave other teams black and blue with an emphasis on the power run with three running backs in the T-formation. And between Logan Hofstedt, Gage Hildebrandt and Hayden Strain making up the three-headed rushing attack, the Bombers have the backs to make that happen. Dover-Eyota has a more conventional look to its offense, but the Eagles showed on Friday that they are capable of being as physical as the bruising Bombers.
GOODHUE — Every hit is coming in fast. And every hit is painful. That's the brand of football that Goodhue has made for itself. Heading into Friday's Week 3 matchup with Kenyon-Wanamingo, the Wildcats were yet to give up a point while holding teams to a combined one completion and an average of 3.5 yards allowed per rush. "We're pretty quick. Our line is fast, gets in there and makes plays. Cornerbacks can lock down and make plays. And linebackers find holes and make plays," said senior defensive lineman Ryan Schoenfelder.
Numbers don't lie. And after crossing the finish line at the St. Olaf Showcase, the numbers proved Ariana Mollgaard's work was paying off. Last year, Mollgaard was a part of the Red Wing girls' cross-country varsity squad, but usually finished in the sixth or seventh spot, which didn't contribute to the team score. Fast-forward a year, and Mollgaard has accelerated herself into one of the top two runners for the 11th-ranked (Class 2A) Wingers.
RANDOLPH — A week ago, Carsyn Gunderson wasn't lined up at wide receiver for Randolph. Not due to injury. Nothing scandalous. Rather, he was grounded for dissing his dad. "Yeah, just family issues," Gunderson said about his Week 1 absence. "I was very anxious today. I just wanted to come out with the boys and put on a show for Randolph." His debut was delayed by a week, but his work against Lanesboro was enough to make up for it.