WORTHINGTON -- Their 1-2 record is nothing to do cartwheels about, but the 2020 Worthington Trojans are coaxing some legitimate respect from their opponents.
“I was very impressed with Worthington. They’re an improved team,” said veteran Waseca coach Brad Wendland after his Bluejays defeated the Trojans 41-6 last Friday. “They’ve got good size and some good senior leadership.”
Sometimes when a coach throws bouquets toward a vanquished team, it’s hard to swallow. But these Trojans are playing purposeful football this year, and appear capable in all phases offensively and defensively. They all but dominated two weeks ago in a 27-8 win over New Ulm, and their effort has been consistent.
On Friday, WHS connected on a 63-yard touchdown pass and run from quarterback Brock Bruns to senior tight end Tommy Lais. It was as pretty a pass, catch and carry that you’ll see all season -- from any combo. The Trojans’ passing game has been dangerous from Day One, and if the running game becomes more consistent, well, who knows?
This Friday’s opponent is St. Peter, at St. Peter. The Saints are 0-2, with losses to Marshall 35-0 and New Ulm 22-12.
It would be easy to think the Trojans will beat St. Peter based on both teams’ performances against New Ulm, but many a prognosticator has made the mistake of weighing common opponents mistakenly. In Worthington’s win over New Ulm, the Eagles’ star running back Cole Ranweiler was not on the field. He returned against the Saints and scored three touchdowns -- the last one on a 50-yard carry -- and finished with 225 yards on 22 attempts.
H-LP Wolves are hungry
Further south, in Iowa, they are getting more and more excited about football in the little towns of Harris and Lake Park. And why not? On Friday the Wolves overcame a previously undefeated Coon Rapids-Bayard team 55-32 in the 8-Player playoffs.
It was an impressive H-LP show. Head coach Lane Gunderson’s boys won their sixth consecutive game after starting the year 0-2 against powerhouses Newell-Fonda (54-7) and Remsen St. Mary’s (52-0).
Since taking over from injured quarterback Brody Sohn in the second regular season game, Tyce Gunderson has shone brilliantly. He threw for seven (count ‘em, seven) touchdowns against CR-B, completing 13 of 17 for 167 yards. Lucas Gunderson led the ground game with 20 carries and 153 yards, including one rushing touchdown and one receiving touchdown.
This Friday’s opponent, however, is that same Remsen St. Mary’s team, now 8-0. St. Mary’s, Friday’s host, owns a regular win over Newell-Fonda, 30-28, and has blown out every other opponent.
In the first meeting between the two squads, St. Mary’s held H-LP to 139 total yards while accumulating 435 for itself, including 248 yards rushing.
Without a doubt, Harris-Lake Park is a better team than it was in Week Two of the regular season. And Sohn is back as a pass-catcher. But the Wolves will need to be at their best.
In another northwest Iowa playoff challenge, Central Lyon/George-Little Rock plays host to Estherville Lincoln Central in Class 2A. The Lions (8-0) beat Unity Christian 34-27 in its most recent postseason contest.
Estherville Lincoln Central is 7-1, losing only to Spirit Lake, 34-27. It outplayed Algona 36-20 in its last playoff game.
H-BC rolling along
Back north in Minnesota, other Friday games have Luverne at Windom Area, Jackson County Central at Redwood Valley, Pipestone Area at Blue Earth Area, Hills-Beaver Creek at Edgerton, Mountain Lake Area/Comfrey at Renville County West, Adrian/Ellsworth at Murray County Central and Sleepy Eye St. Mary’s at Westbrook-Walnut Grove.
Hills-Beaver Creek is ranked No. 1 in the state 9-Man ranks while Redwood Valley is No. 3 and Blue Earth Area No. 4 in Class 2A.
Luverne is 2-1 and coming off a big 32-0 win over Jackson County Central, a recent powerhouse that is still struggling to overcome several important graduation losses. Windom Area, which has compiled a 10-38 record since the 2015 season, is 0-2.
Pipestone Area, 0-2, should have its hands full against a BEA team which is 3-0 and has already beaten JCC and Luverne handily.
Hills-Beaver Creek has outscored its rivals 146-14 in three games and figures to be heavily favored against an 0-3 Edgerton club.
The MLA/C game at Renville County West is intriguing. The Wolverines are 2-1 with their only loss coming 13-0 to fourth-ranked Grand Meadow in their season opener. RCW owns a 3-0 record.
Unbeaten Murray County Central continues to look solid, especially coming off a 20-12 victory over a ranked Wabasso team. Adrian/Ellsworth, like JCC and Edgerton a former southwest Minnesota powerhouse, is 0-3 and searching for a footing.