All across Minnesota, high school football teams are looking ahead. Final regular season games are being played this week, and the results will of course figure into seedings and pairings for first-round playoff games starting next Tuesday.
But for the Worthington Trojans and head coach Gene Lais, there are more immediate considerations. Lais continues to point out that his team, regardless of its record, continues working to improve. And improvement can be noted in the more physical play of the offensive and defensive lines as well as in the senior leadership.
The Trojans, 0-7, will travel to St. Peter today (Wednesday) for a game against the 2-5 Saints. This will be a game that the locals can win, though to do it they’ll have to play four solid quarters.
“We just want to get better every week. It’s not really about getting the win, it’s just about getting better,” Lais said Monday afternoon. “We just need to sustain it for 48 whole minutes.”
They were in the market for two other victories, but they lost them both, 12-0 against Sibley East and 26-22 to New Ulm. They’ve had moments in games against highly favored opponents, like Jordan, Waseca and Marshall, but didn’t have the staying power.
“Gotta stay resilient. If things don’t go so well, we’ve got to be able to bounce back,” Lais said.
For most of the area’s prep teams, games this week will take place today. Besides the Worthington/St. Peter game, others on tap will include Luverne at Belle Plaine, Windom Area at Pipestone Area, Jackson County Central at St. James Area, Wabasso at Murray County Central, Westbrook-Walnut Grove at Renville County West, Edgerton at GHEC/Truman, Hills-Beaver Creek at Madelia and Adrian at Minnesota Valley Lutheran. On Thursday, Heron Lake-Okabena/Fulda travels to play Red Rock Central.
Here are the up-to-date records of the area’s section teams:
Section 2 9-Man: Renville County West is 7-0, Nicollet is 6-1, Ogilvie 6-1, Red Rock Central 3-4, Buffalo Lake-Hector 3-4 Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s 3-4, Onamia 1-6 and Cedar Mountain 0-7.
Section 3 9-Man: Mountain Lake Area 7-0, Hills-Beaver Creek 6-1, Edgerton 3-4, GHEC/Truman 2-5, Heron Lake-Okabena/Fulda 2-5, Madelia 2-5, Lyle-Pacelli 1-6, Westbrook-Walnut Grove 0-7.
Section 3A: Springfield 7-0, Wabasso 5-2, Murray County Central 5-2, Martin County West 5-2, Adrian 4-3, Russell-Tyler-Ruthton 4-3, Sleepy Eye 0-7.
Section 3AA: Redwood Valley 6-1, Pipestone Area 4-3, Tracy-Milroy-Balaton 4-3, Windom Area 2-5, Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial 1-6, St. James Area 0-7.
Section 3AAA: Jackson County Central 7-0, Fairmont 6-1, Luverne 5-2, Sibley East 2-5, Tri-City United 1-6, Worthington 0-7.
The area features several state-ranked squads: in Class AAA, JCC (2nd) and Fairmont (6th); Class AA, Redwood Valley (7th); in A, Springfield (4th); in 9-Man, Mountain Lake Area (1st), Renville County West (3rd) and Hills-Beaver Creek (6th).
It is unlikely that Worthington can use a victory in today’s game to move up from its No. 6 Section 3AAA ranking. Jackson County Central and Fairmont are in line to get the two first-round section byes. The Trojans will probably go on the road to face Luverne in their first playoff test.