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Prep football preview: Trojans to face tough Fairmont on Friday

WORTHINGTON -- They needed a win in a big way. They got it, as Reynaldo Paniagua booted a 21-yard field goal in the final three seconds. The Worthington Trojans football team, coming off losses 62-6 to Marshall and 35-21 to St. Peter on homecomin...

WORTHINGTON -- They needed a win in a big way. They got it, as Reynaldo Paniagua booted a 21-yard field goal in the final three seconds.

The Worthington Trojans football team, coming off losses 62-6 to Marshall and 35-21 to St. Peter on homecoming night, edged winless Belle Plaine 31-28 on Friday in a gutsy, never-say-die performance.

“After losing a couple, you need to get on the right side of the scoreboard to raise the confidence level,” said head coach Gene Lais on Monday. “They refused to give up. And that was a real encouraging sign.”

Worthington (2-3) will go on the road again this Friday to face a traditional opponent that has been much more successful during the 2018 campaign. The Fairmont Cardinals are 4-1 with only a loss to unbeaten Jordan (45-26) marring their record. The Cardinals will provide WHS with a lot of different looks and a lot of different formations, Lais said. The Trojans will need to be on their toes.

So far, they have.

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“They just seem to be really, really resilient. Nothing ever gets them down,” said Lais, adding, “We’ve got to find a way to get off to better starts.”

Lais doesn’t know why, but the Trojans have not started well early in games this year, needing to overcome deficits too often. So he’s hoping the team can eliminate the mistakes -- missed blocking assignments, missed coverages, turnovers.

Fortunately, different players are stepping up in different games when the team needs a lift.

“We have a different guy every night,” said the coach.

Perhaps the biggest high school football game in the area on Friday will be the Redwood Valley at Jackson County Central contest. Both teams are 5-0 and both are state-ranked. Redwood Valley, rated No. 8 in Class AA last week, defeated No. 3 Pipestone Area 16-14 in overtime.

Jackson County Central, as the No. 4-ranked team in Class AAA, has not yet been challenged. The Huskies have beaten Lake Crystal-Wellcome Memorial 56-7, Luverne 33-0, Blue Earth Area 47-7, Windom Area 51-0 and Martin County West 61-21.

Other area teams enjoying a good measure of success after five weeks include Hills-Beaver Creek (4-1), Mountain Lake Area (5-0) and Russell-Tyler-Ruthton (4-1). Hills-Beaver Creek is at 1-4 Edgerton/Ellsworth on Friday while Mountain Lake Area hosts 3-2 Red Rock Central. R-T-R is at 2-3 Heron Lake-Okabena/Fulda.

Murray County Central, after sustaining its first loss of the season last week against Dawson-Boyd, is on the road to 1-4 Adrian.

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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Thursday night high school sports roundup:
The Worthington Trojans girls’ and boy’s hockey teams both played home games on Thursday night. The girls’ team celebrated Senior Night and played the non-conference Austin Packers. Austin beat Worthington 6-1.
Trailing at halftime, the Worthington High School girls basketball team outscored Albert Lea 49-27 in the second half Thursday night in Worthington
The Minnesota West men's basketball team was defeated by conference opponent Rochester Wednesday night. Bie Ruei had a big night with 26 points and four assists.