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Crunch time for area prep football teams is here

The regular season is winding down and the playoff season looms for area high school football squads

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Week Six of the Minnesota high school football season is here. That means that after Friday, there are just two more regular season contests remaining before the section tournament season opens.

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No better time than now for teams to get in playoff shape.

Here are the current section standings for area squads:

Section 3 Nine-Man: Hills-Beaver Creek 4-1 overall, 4-0 section; GHEC/Truman 4-1, 2-1; Red Rock Central 3-2, 2-0; Mountain Lake Area 3-2, 2-1; Edgerton 2-3, 2-2; Westbrook-Walnut Grove 0-5, 0-3; Heron Lake-Okabena/Fulda 0-5, 0-3; Madelia 0-6, 0-2.

Section 3A: Martin County West 5-0, 2-0; Tracy-Milroy-Balaton 4-1, 3-1; Murray County Central 4-1, 2-1; Adrian/Ellsworth 2-3, 2-1; Russell-Tyler-Ruthton 2-3, 1-0; Springfield 3-2, 1-1; Sleepy Eye 1-4, 0-4; Wabasso 0-5, 0-3.

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Section 3AA: Jackson County Central 5-0, 2-0; Pipestone Area 5-0, 3-0; Minnesota Valley Lutheran 4-1, 1-0; Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial 1-4, 0-1; Sibley East 0-5, 0-1; Redwood Valley 0-5, 0-2; Windom Area 0-5, 0-1; St. James Area 0-5, 0-1.

Section 3AAA: Waseca 4-1, 2-0; Fairmont 3-2, 1-1; Tri-City United 3-2, 2-1; New Ulm 1-4, 1-2; Belle Plaine 2-3, 0-1; Luverne 3-2, 1-1; Worthington 0-5, 0-1.

Worthington Trojans celebrate Tucker Brandner (10) Quarterback keeper their second touchdown of the evening in Luverne Friday Night.
Worthington Trojans football players celebrate a quarterback keeper by Tucker Brandner (10) for a touchdown against Luverne Friday night.
Tim Middagh/The Globe

Section 2AAAA: Hutchinson 4-1, 1-0; Marshall 5-0, 0-0; Willmar 4-1, 0-1; Jordan 3-2, 1-0; Faribault 2-3, 0-0; St. Peter 2-3, 0-1.

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Area games scheduled for Friday include Fairmont at Worthington, Jackson County Central at Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial, Luverne at Pipestone Area, Windom Area at Redwood Valley, Murray County Central at Martin County West, Edgerton at Heron Lake-Okabena/Fulda, Mountain Lake Area at Hills-Beaver Creek, Adrian/Area JV at Wabasso, and Red Rock Central at Westbrook-Walnut Grove.

Here’s a look at some intriguing matchups:

Fairmont at Worthington

Moral victories are not the best kind, and they’re not even real victories according to proper definition. But if moral victories matter at all, the Worthington Trojans might have achieved one last Friday in their 22-14 loss to Big South Conference opponent Luverne.

The Trojans were coming off their worst game of the season, a 44-0 shellacking in Marshall where the WHS offense was non-existent. Still, they put that behind them to play competitively on both sides of the football in Luverne. Going with a two-player quarterback rotation with Tucker Brandner and Abagotte Opiew behind center, the offense showed signs of life as Opiew rushed nine times for 129 yards and Brandner completed three of nine passes for 21 yards. For most of the second half, WHS trailed only by a point.

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Worthington’s defense, however, will need major adjustments this week against Fairmont, as it allowed 259 yards rushing to Luverne.

FHS is 3-2 with only a 10-0 loss to unbeaten Marshall and a 32-14 loss to once-beaten Waseca marring its record. In a 48-12 victory over New Ulm Friday, quarterback Brendan Schmidtke was 8-for-8 passing for 152 yards and three touchdowns in the first half.

MCC at Martin County West

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Two games ago, Murray County Central’s star running back, Carter Benda, was lost to injury during the Rebels’ only loss of the season against Tracy-Milroy-Balaton. Since then, the MCC rushing attack has carried on just fine.

In MCC’s first game since the injury, Ross Engelkes ran for 187 yards and two touchdowns on 21 carries in a 35-13 triumph over St. James Area, and last week he rushed 26 times for 147 yards and a touchdown in a 27-0 win over Sleepy Eye.

Rebels quarterback Abe Paulzine continues to complete passes (he was 14-for-24 for 179 yards and two TDs against Sleepy Eye) and the defense is solid. MCC out-gained Sleepy Eye 432-85 in total offense.

Martin County West is 5-0 and coming off a 43-0 win over New Ulm Cathedral. MCW’s Joseph Forsberg gained 130 yards rushing on 15 carries in that result.

MLA at H-BC

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Two strong teams here. And a renewal of a rivalry between two programs that have enjoyed a run of success over recent seasons.

Last year, Hills-Beaver Creek lost to Mountain Lake Area 24-6 in the regular season but beat MLA 36-9 at Southwest Minnesota State University to advance to the state tournament.

In 2020, H-BC defeated MLA 54-14 in the regular season and beat the Wolverines again in the section tournament, 52-7.

In 2019, H-BC lost to MLA 40-20 in the regular season and lost to MLA again in the section, 28-6.

Luverne at Pipestone Area

At first glance, it’s easy to give the 5-0 Arrows the edge against the 3-2 Cardinals based on records and the fact that Pipestone Area is at home.

But records and game locations don’t mean a thing when these two arch-rivals go head-to-head. Anything can happen, and it often does.

Pipestone Area has scored at least 34 points in every game it has played this fall, while allowing no more than 10. Luverne has been more inconsistent but played well last Friday in its win over Worthington.

Pipestone Area defeated Luverne last year, 20-16. Luverne beat Pipestone Area the year before that, 22-0.

Windom Area at Redwood Valley

Let us not ignore the needy. Something’s gotta give in this game featuring a pair of 0-5 teams.

Windom Area is coming off a 30-16 loss to Le Sueur-Henderson. Redwood Valley has been close a couple of times, falling to Luverne 21-20 in its 2022 opener and later losing 30-22 to Norwood Young America.

Windom led Le Sueur-Henderson 16-10 at halftime. We’ll see if the Eagles have better staying power this week.

Doug Wolter joined the Worthington Globe in December of 1983 as a sports reporter. He later became sports editor, and then news editor and managing editor. In 2006 he moved to Mankato with his wife, Sandy, and served as an editor at the Mankato Free Press. In 2013 he and Sandy returned to Worthington to take up the job of sports editor at The Globe, and they have been in Worthington since.

Doug can be reached at dwolter@dglobe.com.
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