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Prep football: Regular season winds down today

ADRIAN — The squeezing of the stretch drive for the 2013 Minnesota high school football season has commenced. Tonight (Wednesday, Oct. 16), the final games of the regular season are in store for the majority of teams, and the playoff season begins as early as Tuesday.

But before coaches and players prepare in earnest for that “second season,” there is serious unfinished business to complete tonight. The area schedule: Jackson County Central at Worthington, Redwood Valley at Luverne, Windom Area at Marshall, Minneota/Lincoln HI at Adrian, Edgerton-Ellsworth at Cleveland, Murray County Central at Lakeview, Red Rock Central at Martin County West, Fulda at Mountain Lake Area, Southwestern United at Renville County West and Hills-Beaver Creek at Westbrook-Walnut Grove.

For some teams, the playoff implications are greater than for others.

Southwestern United is in a tight battle with Renville County West for the eighth and final playoff spot in Section 3 9-man. The Wildcats presently hold the eighth position among the nine Section 3 teams, but their position is tenuous. The winner of tonight’s game will contend in the playoffs while the loser rests up for next season.

SWU, which was beaten 50-6 last week by Westbrook-Walnut Grove, is 0-7 on the season. Renville County West, coming off a 42-14 loss to Hills-Beaver Creek, is also 0-7.

The two victorious teams from the afore-mentioned games square off tonight in another big showdown. Hills-Beaver Creek (5-2) and W-WG (4-3) rank four and five in the Section 3 9-man rankings. Neither team figures to finish higher than fourth or lower than fifth after tonight’s game, so the winner will have a first-round home game and the loser will travel.

What’s more, these same two teams can expect to play each other again on Tuesday.

“All of a sudden, we’re playing for a home playoff game,” said Patriots head coach Rex Metzger Tuesday afternoon. “I think it’s two evenly-matched teams. They’re a team that passes well and knows how to run. And we’re kind of the same way.”

Since the Pats and the Chargers figure to play again in a few days —in a more important game than the one they’ll play tonight — it’s a fair question to ponder whether the coaches will be holding something back to spring on their rivals on Tuesday. Metzger says H-BC won’t be playing close to the vest at all, and he expects W-WG to be putting it all on the line, as well.

After all, home field is at stake.

Fortunately for the Patriots, the injury issues that had plagued them for the first half of the season appear to be over. “We’re finally getting healthy at the right time,” Metzger said.

Playoff implications are minimal in the Jackson County Central game with Worthington. JCC sits atop the Section 3AA rankings and Worthington, at No. 5 in the six-team Section 3AAA class, is assured of a playoff spot.

But pride is definitely on the line. The Huskies are 6-1 overall and 5-0 in the Southwest Conference. Worthington (3-4 overall, 3-2 in the conference race) would love to put a blemish on the JCC record and build upon last week’s 26-0 victory over conference rival Pipestone Area.

The Trojans’ whitewash of the Arrows marked the high point of what has been an up-and-down season. They were dominant offensively, defensively and on special teams —something they hadn’t been able to accomplish until then.

“We needed that, especially going against Jackson,” WHS head coach Brad Grimmius said. “It was a huge win for us. And it wasn’t a win that we just squeaked out. We did it in pretty confident fashion.”

One of the most intriguing games tonight pits Minneota/Lincoln HI against Adrian. The Dragons are looking for momentum going into the postseason and there’s no better way to get it than knocking off an undefeated rival from a higher class.

The Class AA Vikings are 7-0. In their last three games they beat Dawson-Boyd 27-6, Tracy-Milroy-Balaton 41-14 and Murray County Central 48-13. They’ve scored at least 41 points in every game but the D-B clash.

The Class A Dragons are 6-1 and coming off a 34-20 loss to Dawson-Boyd.

“They’re a fine ball club. There’s a reason they haven’t lost yet,” Adrian head coach Randy Strand said about Minneota/Lincoln HI. He also said AHS will need to be disciplined on defense to handle the Vikings’ tendency toward misdirection.

Penalties, and breakdowns in special teams in the second half, contributed toward the Dawson-Boyd loss.

So what did the Dragons learn from that game?

“We found out that you can’t help the other team beat you,” said Strand.

Following are current section point rankings for teams in the Daily Globe coverage area:

Section 3 9-man

Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley 38.0

Mountain Lake Area 33.8

Edgerton-Ellsworth 25.3

Westbrook-Walnut Grove 20.0

Hills-Beaver Creek 18.4

Fulda 9.9

Hancock 8.8

Southwestern United 7.3

Renville County West 6.5

Section 3A Class A

Adrian 38.6

United South Central 33.4

Tracy-Milroy-Balaton 32.6

St. Clair 20.9

Murray County Central 17.7

Red Rock Central 15.8

Section 3 Class AA

Jackson County Central 63.3

Maple River 42.1

Luverne 44.0

Martin County West 39.1

New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva 33.2

Pipestone Area 31.9

Windom Area 25.6

St. James Area 22.8

Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial 15.7

Section 3 Class AAA

Belle Plaine 62.6

Fairmont 60.5

St. Peter 40.4

Blue Earth Area 39.2

Worthington 33.3

Sibley East 23.7

Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He also writes books on fiction. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" have been distributed through a national publisher.

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