Holdingford is back in the state playoffs for the first time since 2000. Mike Knaak, who is a new media editor at the Times and once was the long-time photo chief, reminded me about when the Huskers beat Pine Island to win the state championship in 1981. It was played in a snowstorm.
There’s no snow forecast for tonight, but I’m glad at least this portion of the state playoffs are still being played outdoors.
Here’s a quick look at the three remaining area teams as we head into the state quarterfinals:
* Holdingford vs. BOLD, 7 p.m. Thursday at SCSU — Holdingford (9-1) has had a great year, but so has BOLD. Like Holdingford, BOLD has a traditionally good program that hasn’t been in the state playoffs in a while (2004). I’ll always remember St. Cloud Cathedral beating defending state champion BOLD for the state Class B title in 1992. It was a great game, Cathedral won 7-6, and BOLD has always been on my radar screen ever since. This team is a lot like those teams in the early 1990s. They play straight-forward football, running the ball 85 percent of the time. They play tough defense that is geared to stop the run. Holdingford’s best shot is if the Huskers can get their passing game open a bit to force BOLD to pay more attention to that than the running game. Holdingford’s passing game is decent. Mitch Massman has had an excellent year and he has capable targets. I’m expecting a defensive struggle and I think BOLD is just a little bit better. BOLD wins, 14-13.
* Becker vs. Minneapolis DeLaSalle, 7 p.m. Friday at Hopkins High School — DeLaSalle is unbeaten, puts up a pile of points and is loaded with talent. That said, Becker, is well-coached and plays excellent team football. l do believe that often a team is greater than the sum of its parts. And that’s what should help the Bulldogs stay close. Their summer run in the national 7-on-7 touch football tournament in Indianapolis should help, too. Those teams were all more talented than Becker, but the Bulldogs had a strong showing. I’m guessing DeLaSalle’s quickness is going to be a little too much for Becker. The Islanders beat the Bulldogs, 28-21.
* New London-Spicer vs. Annandale, noon Saturday at SCSU – Two Wright County Conference teams are again the state playoffs and neither one of them is Glencoe-Silver Lake. Both are more recent state entrants, not long-time powers like all the other schools mentioned here. New London-Spicer won a state title in 2009 and was runnerup in 2008. Those are the Wildcats’ only two other state appearances. Annandale never made it before last year’s improbable run to the state semifinals. This season’s squad is more experienced and better. Annandale won the regular-season meeting with NLS, 28-21. There is no reason to believe that the Cardinals can’t do that again, though it should be a really good game. I’m taking Annandale, 28-21.
I had a good week. I went 5-0 picking games and 5-0 against my made-up point spread. That leaves me at 115-36 (76.1 percent) picking winners this season and 95-56 (67.3 percent) against my imaginary point spreads.
I’m trying to stay humble, so I won’t gloat. These are supposed to get tougher as the playoffs wear on. A lot of people can pick the early section games, because the seedings make it easier. Here’s thanking the football gods for smiling upon me last week. Let’s see how my luck holds out this week. Truthfully, I’d rather be wrong. I really like a lot of coaches/administrators at Holdingford and the same holds true for Becker. I hold no ill will toward anyone at either program. But I’m guessing people would rather see who I think will win rather than who I want to win. Good luck to everyone.