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PINE ISLAND — The Section 1AAA tournament is as wide-open as it has been in years. That made Tuesday's game between fifth-seeded Zumbrota-Mazeppa and fourth-seeded Pine Island more intriguing than it may have been in past seasons. Top-seeded Rochester Lourdes, like every other team in the bracket, is flawed and beatable. This is not the year where the winner of the 4/5 game is sacrificial lamb. And neither the Cougars nor Panthers played like it.
There is never a good time to take a 16-yard loss. But the first play of the game is a particularly brutal moment. And when it results in taking the ensuing snap from the 1-yard line, that's just insult to injury. Red Wing ended up punting its opening possession, after a 5-yard run, a 5-yard penalty and a 2-yard run followed the botched snap to open the game. And it didn't get much better until late in the Wingers' 63-12 loss to Mankato West on Wednesday.
RUSHFORD — With just more than a minute to play in the first quarter, Friday's showdown between two of Class 1A's top teams, lightning forced a stoppage that lasted almost an hour. When top-ranked Rushford-Peterson and No. 4 Goodhue finally got back on the field, what transpired was not in the minds of anyone. Backed by 376 yards of rushing, and a defense that continues to dominate, the Wildcats stunned a soaked crowd with a 36-0 drubbing of the Trojans.
Rain greeted Lake City on Thursday, but there was no dampening the Tigers and their hopes for a deep run in the Section 1A tournament, both as a team and individually. A location change from a home meet to a neutral site in Red Wing ended with Lake City trouncing St. Croix Lutheran Academy, 7-0, in the first round of the Section 1A tournament. The rest of the team competition will be a tough task as No. 2-ranked Rochester Lourdes is the top seed. Lake City, ranked 10th, is the No. 2 seed, and Cannon Falls, the third seed, lost to the Tigers, 4-3, a couple weeks ago.
The goal for Red Wing cross-country is the state meet in the beginning of November. And with the section meet less than a month away, the Wingers are getting to a crucial part of their season. And what better place to start the end-of-season grind than Friday's home meet, in front of friends and family on a course that lends itself to speed.
RANDOLPH — Randolph's 3-0 start was put to the test on Friday, but the Rockets knew what was coming since the season started. Second-ranked Spring Grove is hoping to make a run at the 9-Man state title this year, and that included a stop in Randolph for Week 4. At halftime, things looked bleak for the Rockets, but Alex Folz eliminated any chance of a comeback with a touchdown pass and an interception return for a touchdown less than a minute-and-a-half out of the locker room to lead the Lions to a 53-7 victory.
LAKE CITY — Homecoming for Lake City got off to a fast start on Friday, and the Tigers ended up controlling much of their game against Pine Island. Lake City had the advantage in passing and total yards, turnovers, first downs and time of possession. But the Panthers got the edge, ever so slightly, in the most important category: points. Pine Island stopped the Tigers on a 4th-and-5 with 1 minute, 31 seconds left in the game and ran out the clock for a 19-18 victory. "We need to be a little more stout against the run.
A visit from Austin gave Red Wing a chance to bounce back from an ugly opening-week loss to New Prague. But the Wingers and Packers both had something else on their minds on Friday. Chris Fischer, a 14-year-old on the Austin football team, died Saturday, Sept. 2, due to complications from cardiac arrest. Less than a week later, his Packer teammates had to find a way to move to 2-0 on the season. A couple of the Wingers heard about Fischer, and a group of them took action to help Austin feel some hometown vibes at Russ "Cougar" Marshall Field.
CANNON FALLS — Kenyon-Wanamingo's run to the Class 2A state tournament in 2016 was incredible. The Knights lost just twice, and dropped five sets over 36 matches in what culminated in a third-place finish. K-W also had a talented JV squad last year, and that was fortunate as much of the starting lineup that played at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul was due to graduate. So what does Jen Nerison's new group have in store for this season? Well, how's a first-ever road victory over her sister, and third-straight 3-0 win to start the season sound?
ROCHESTER — With 40 seconds left on the clock, it appeared the “silver-lining” approach to the post-game interview would not be needed. But a 13-yard run from Julian Bretton set up a first and goal. Then, one the next play, with 21 seconds left, Pat Leary found the end zone. Rochester Lourdes would add a two-point conversion and hold off Zumbrota-Mazeppa, 22-19, in both team's season opener.