"You'll never get ahead if you don't take care of what you have." - Doris Waddell, RIP

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn
The multi-ethnic building was the original home of the music department at UMM. (B.W. photo)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Tigers stunned by BOLD in section semis

Ethan Bruer of the Tigers (black uniform) breaks up a BOLD pass play during the Saturday semis game at Big Cat. (Photos by B.W.)
Cody Cannon looks for room to advance after making a pass reception against the BOLD Warriors.
Ryan Beyer, the Tigers' quarterback, passes the football during the MAHS vs. BOLD game Saturday at Big Cat Stadium.

BOLD 35, Morris Area 24
This isn't how the script was supposed to go. Is it possible the wind of Tuesday, harsh beyond description, swept away some of the Tigers' feeling of momentum?
Action resumed Saturday at the friendly (supposedly) confines of our Big Cat Stadium, where anticipation was high among the Tiger faithful who envisioned a win.
Might it even be a routine win? The 2010 Tigers played a brand of football that spelled as many as 70-plus points in a game. (Unfortunately we're now referring to the season in the past tense.)
The Tigers were matched against the BOLD Warriors Saturday in a Section 5AA semis game.
The orange and black faithful could embrace optimism based on how their team cruised when last it faced BOLD. The Tigers beat the Warriors 28-0 in the home opener.
In the Saturday rematch with a post-season atmosphere, one might have expected the Tigers to look quite at home at their magnificent football facility of Big Cat.
But as Chris Berman of ESPN would say (with gusto): "That's why. . .they play. . .the game!"
A rejuvenated crew of Warriors pounded through the Tigers' line regularly. There appeared to be a wear-down effect as the game progressed. And in major contrast to when BOLD put up that goose egg previously, BOLD scored often.
Coach Jerry Witt's gallant Tigers, who were the on-paper favorite as owner of the No. 2 seed, were dealt disappointment and a premature end to the 2010 gridiron fortunes.
The season takes on a bittersweet tone in fans' memory as certainly there were frequent crowd-pleasing moments, what with all those points scored. But in the end there was a thud.
BOLD defeated the Morris Area football Tigers 35-24. Those Warriors have the privilege of moving on and getting to play again at Big Cat.
BOLD will seek the Section 5AA title at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 5, against an awesome Eden Valley Watkins unit, the No. 1 seed and with no blemishes on its record.
EV-W cruised past YME 48-6 in the other semis game.
Morris Area fans were hardy once again amidst a chill in the air. But after the supreme test of nasty weather Tuesday, weather could hardly have crossed anyone's mind.
No doubt some MAHS fans will re-visit Big Cat to see how BOLD fares against EV-W. But oh how they'd like to be rooting for MAHS in the game to determine No. 1 in section.
Here's a reminder to check the Morris Area football page on Maxpreps:


And, here's a reminder also to check the Morris Area football page on Facebook:
Those indefatigable Tiger fans can continue to root for the Tigers of other fall sports. Thursday and Friday had highlights.
Reese, Tiernan pace the MA-CA runners
Cross country took centerstage Thursday and the site was Spicer for section racing. Anticipation is always high for section cross country because the caliber is high and state meet qualification is at stake.
Runners strive to enter this race with all their reserve strength (and stamina) available. It's a spectacle.
Tigers Roy Reese and Dan Tiernan were in the groove, each finishing in the top ten to get the coveted state nod.
It's never certain in what order these two accomplished Tigers will finish. They are always in the top tier and on the day of sections it was Reese getting the team's bragging rights with his fourth place showing. Tiernan earned his state nod by placing eighth.
The fleet Tiger duo are preparing for the state meet which is set for November 6 in Northfield. In what order will they finish there? Flip a coin? The proud Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta cross country coach is Dale Henrich.
Reese achieved fourth in section with a time of 17:27.82. Tiernan arrived in the finish chute eighth at 17:31.65. Other Tigers were Aaron Goulet (19th), Gage Anderson (25th) and Brody Bahr (49th).
The MA-CA boys as a team finished fourth among 15 teams.
Albany took first, Sauk Centre was runner-up and LP-GE was No. 3. The individual champion was Kyle Toms of West Central Area whose time was 16:54.68.
Makenzie Smith led the MA-CA girls with her 15th place showing achieved with a time of 16:28.25. Makenzie was joined in the MA-CA effort by Jana Loher, Becca Holland, Sarah Kuhn and Julia Sauder.
As in the boys race it was Albany taking top team honors in girls. Albany runner Madi Sachs was individual champion with her 15:17.06 time.
MA-CA girls sweep Lac qui Parle
The Friday story for Tiger athletics had its share of highlights too, on the volleyball court, as MA-CA swept its foe. The Tigers succeeded in crisp and efficient style to advance in Section 3AA-North.
The bumping, setting and spiking went the Tigers' way in the sweep by scores of 25-14, 25-16 and 25-12. The foe: Lac qui Parle Valley.
Other quarter-final round action had BOLD beating Montevideo (a sweep), YME prevailing vs. Redwood Valley (a 3-2 squeaker) and Benson thumping Minnewaska Area (3-0).
Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta volleyball will face Benson at 7:30 p.m. Monday in the semis, and this is set for a neutral court: Montevideo.
But MA-CA fans will try to make it as non-neutral as possible!
BOLD will clash with YME in the 6 p.m. semis match at Monte.
The MA-CA girls will enter Monday with a sparkling season record of 17-8.
Erin Schieler contributed eleven kills and eight ace blocks in the sweep over the Eagles. Carrie Roske came through with 21 digs.
The "ace blocks brigade" included, in addition to Schieler: Shadow Olson with three and Terianne Itzen, Sydney Engebretson and Dani Schultz each with one.
-Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Is 'U' football a patient that cannot be revived?

Boomers have to rely on stories from their elders to realize how U of M Gopher football was once truly big-time in Minnesota. You have to think back to a time before the Minnesota Vikings even existed. You have to close your eyes and really adjust your mindset.
No Minnesota Vikings? Before the 1960s, the sports universe was vastly different here. We really were a "Cold Omaha" - the term popularized by fossil-scribe Sid Hartman whenever the time comes for arm-twisting for a new stadium - i.e. "we'll be a cold Omaha if such-and-such team leaves Minnesota."
Shudder. So let's continue building these shrines and if a bridge happens to fall into the river, then we'll need to hike our infrastructure funding a little, but by all means let's keep these big league teams here.
Gophers football was big-time at the old Memorial Stadium. It was razed so U football could move to the Metrodome. Playing indoors would be such a boon for recruiting, it was argued. The best-laid plans. . .
Apparently some very smart people have been trying to "fix" Gopher football for a very long time.
There's a new stadium that now appears to have done nothing to enhance competitiveness. I have suspected all along that the new TCF Bank Stadium could be a hindrance in that prospective recruits are going to realize that playing a fall sport outdoors in Minnesota could be unpleasant.
Does this explain any of the program's current woes? I'm not sure, but with the dismissal of coach Tim Brewster, the program couldn't be any lower.
There is profound embarrassment over the mid-season firing. The Gophers now have a caretaker coach - the knee-jerk move of having a coordinator move up. I guess it's the offensive coordinator but who cares?
I've heard the name but it isn't sticking. It's like when the Vikings were playing "scab" football and Mark Rosen of WCCO TV reported from Winter Park that "the Vikings have a new quarterback, number 5."
That's how I feel about the interim Gophers coach. Brewster walks away with a satchel-full of money. Nice script.
I could call the whole thing "troubled waters" but that would sting even more for the U.
Brewster is history and he had a bland-as-pablum tenure - no scandal even. I have yet to find any really insightful analysis of what his shortcomings were. Poor recruiting? Poor people management? Poor understanding of football strategy?
He may have had limited experience as a head coach but he certainly had a solid football resume.
I think some fundamental truths are working against University of Minnesota football. The Gophers are simply one program in a sea of Division I programs across the U.S. all striving to be big-time, many in locations that can nurture support and resources beyond what the Twin Cities can muster.
We have the potential for late-season unpleasant fall weather. We don't have the pool of outstanding recruits in our high school programs like what is seen in some other regions of the country.
Gone are the days when we could easily enlist African-American athletes from the Deep South who welcomed escape. Those athletes can stay right at home now, where the colleges decided it was better to seek glory and success on the gridiron than to continue suppressing the aspirations of African-Americans.
There are Division I programs all over that are pulling out all stops. The University of Minnesota would like to win too but it just doesn't feel the urgency. There are smart people calling the shots there but the U still failed to beat the guys from Vermilion, South Dakota, this season.
The national sports media had fun praising those "Coyotes" from USD after Vermilion beat us.
Brewster was not fired for losing to Purdue, he was fired for losing to University of South Dakota. It was just as bad two years ago when the Gophers were humiliated at home by North Dakota State. Couldn't that have been the wakeup call instead of waiting two years later?
In fact, the Gophers almost lost to South Dakota State (Brookings) last year. It's too bad they didn't, because the national media would have had great fun with "Jackrabbits."
I have written before that we'd benefit from an in-state Division I football rivalry. Maybe this is in fact the fundamental problem. We need more than the sense of rivalry vs. a neighboring state. Maybe there should be a "Minnesota State" that could challenge the Gophers. I have previously wondered why St. Cloud State couldn't take the steps to do what NDSU is doing. But now, sheesh, St. Cloud State is considering cutting football. I'm aghast.
Until we get that hoped-for rivalry, we'll just have to worry about those Coyotes and Jackrabbits.
Of more immediate concern are those Buckeyes of Ohio State - actually they call it The Ohio State University - and this 11th ranked team is coming to stomp on the Gophers Saturday in Minneapolis. I doubt that we will find a silver lining.
But hey, the Vikings play on TV Sunday!
Update: The Gophers interim coach is Jeff Horton. Here's a trick to help remember: "Horton Hears a Who" (Dr. Seuss). Two years from now a trivia question will be "who followed coach Tim Brewster."
Will the new "permanent" coach be like a surgeon who can revive the patient?
Permanent? Reminds me of a Yogi-ism (Berra). Asked once if a particular young shortstop was his shortstop of the future, Berra said "well, right now he is."
An apt way of looking at Gopher football too.
-Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Tigers take charge amidst wind at Big Cat

Everyone bundled up vs. the harsh weather Tuesday evening at Big Cat Stadium. (Photos by B.W.)
Tyler Hansen looks for some more yardage in the win over Benson. Tyler rumbled for 200 yards on the night.
Quarterback Ryan Beyer confers with assistant coach Lyle Rambow. Ryan had 81 rushing yards.
Tyler Moser, the Tigers' No. 69, shows aggressiveness from the 'D' side during the Tuesday playoff success.

Morris Area 26, Benson 0 (playoffs)
Midday it seemed almost questionable whether a high school football game could be played at Big Cat Tuesday night. The wind was literally roaring across the West Central Minnesota prairie. It reminded us of the character "Yukon Cornelius" saying "the weather isn't fit for man or beast" in "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer."
It seemed like a good day to stay hunkered down inside, but when 7 p.m. came, many local football fans were intrepid enough to head over to Big Cat Stadium and see the Tigers.
Not only was the game not postponed, it drew more fans than anyone could have predicted several hours prior.
The pep band? My goodness no. But fans got bundled up and gave their support to coach Jerry Witt's gridiron crew, which made its 2010 playoff debut. It was against Benson.
The Morris Area football Tigers took charge in a 26-0 win in this Section 5AA showdown.
Yours truly figured going in, that the brand of football would probably be dull due to the weather, with offensive options limited. But it wasn't dull at all.
The Tigers scored in three quarters and upped their won-lost record to 7-2. Now the challenge is to host BOLD on Saturday night. BOLD won by a nearly identical score (27-0) over Minnewaska Area Tuesday. The Tigers will host the Warriors at 7 p.m. Saturday at Big Cat in a 5AA semis game.
The other semis game will involve Yellow Medicine East at Eden Valley-Watkins. YME beat Lac qui Parle Valley 26-16 Tuesday, while EV-W was the 43-12 winner over Paynesville.
The wind was no hindrance to the Morris Area running game Tuesday. The Tigers charged forward for 534 yards in 67 carries. Tyler Hansen came out ahead of the wind with 200 rushing yards and he scored three touchdowns. Tanner Picht broke loose near game's end for an exciting 58-yard run. Eric Riley was typically dependable with 94 rushing yards in 16 carries.
QB Ryan Beyer ran for 81 yards in 16 carries and Tim Ostby outran the wind and the Braves for 78 yards in just eight carries. Tommy Holland and Jordan Fletcher each had one carry for an appreciable gain.
It wasn't a night to pass the football like crazy, but signal-caller Beyer did have a completion good for 17 yards. Hansen caught it.
A pivotal point in the game was in the first half and with no points yet on the board. This seemed like a game where the team that scored first might have a big advantage, so it was critical that Morris Area stop Benson on a fourth-and-goal play with the ball at the one. Benson got this opportunity after returning a fumble recovery 50 yards and beginning this series at the ten.
The Tigers were stubborn, they held, and eventually seized the momentum themselves. Hansen scored the first three Tiger touchdowns and these came from 21, 88 and four yards.
The final Tiger TD came on a Tim Ostby 36-yard run. An Ostby run constituted the only MAHS success on a conversion play. Kicking was a rather difficult proposition on this night, as Yukon Cornelius could easily explain. A kicked ball might well just come back at you!
Tommy Holland and Tim Ostby each had an interception, and Tyler Moser had a fumble recovery. The following Tigers had impact on the tackle chart: Tim Ostby, Cody Hickman, Tyler Hansen, Eric Riley and Ryan Beyer.
The Benson Braves close out their season with a 3-6 record. Derek Hilleren rushed for 90 yards in the losing cause for them Tuesday.
If the Morris Area football Tigers were able to draw a robust crowd Tuesday, when weather seemed unsuitable for man or beast, Big Cat ought to be really brimming Saturday when the ball flies off the tee at 7 p.m. for the semis challenge against BOLD, a team that the Tigers were able to handle fairly easily in the regular season.
So, will Saturday be a cakewalk? Just ask coach Witt that question. You know without even asking that the coaches will demand 100 percent focus for this fresh playoff challenge!
-Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, October 25, 2010

C'mon Juan, "Beaker" wouldn't be this scared

Juan Williams' colleagues at Fox News must be aghast. Mr. Williams (in photo) has a fat new contract package as a result of shooting to the top of the news cycle heap last week. Williams is a pundit or commentator or analyst or whatever term you want to use.
How about "talking head?"
These people push buttons with what they say to keep a certain constituency listening to them. On air they often appear to be at each other's throats, like politicians of different political parties. When the camera is off I don't think their zeal is quite so hard-edged.
It's like professional wrestling. They assume roles and act. They have philosophical differences but it's not a life and death matter to them.
Williams became a cape-adorned hero to the political right. He must have had something to offer that required deep scholarship.
Not exactly. Mr. Williams became a near-household word because he simply said he was scared sometimes. I suppose that's proper because it's nearly Halloween.
We were charmed by "Beaker" of The Muppet Show even though he was always scared.
I don't have a firm recollection of Williams' comments but I think he said he was afraid of. . .Packer fans. He emphasized that he didn't want to paint all Packer fans with a broad brush. But he said that when he gets on a plane and sees those green and gold colors in first class, or those kitschy cheesehead hats and other paraphernalia, he recoils.
It may not be totally rational, he said, but he feels it. Yes, this is what it was all about - how Williams "feels" when he sees certain people in certain situations.
National Public Radio, another of Williams' employers, decided this wasn't very intellectual, rational or analytical and so it took the prudent course of dismissing him.
NPR has a liberal image and so the rest is history. The political right has its hair on fire over this. Williams himself, who should just shut up, has been on the offensive. The best example Williams could set would be to just move on to other subjects. Fox News has given him a big, comfortable umbrella. He should be thankful for that.
Meanwhile the other "talking heads" of that bizarre righty network must be gnashing their teeth, wondering if they too might get their pot sweetened if they just said inane and brainless things on the air.
Wait a minute, the Fox News people do that all the time. But Williams was in the right place at the right time, getting fired by NPR.
Williams made his comments on The O'Reilly Factor which is the chief prime time show on Fox. O'Reilly is the consummate circus performer who gets an audience the same way Rush Limbaugh does.
You can find more sensible and educated commentary on the day's issues right at our table at McDonald's in Morris every weekday morning, where Glen Helberg, Brent Waddell, Brent's daughter Tawsha and yours truly share thoughts. All we lack is knowledge of "the racket" of cable TV news.
Linda McMahon couldn't script all that cable news chatter any better. On the right there is this drumbeat of being scared, scared of anything government does (except in fighting wars) and of people of color, although the latter is very shaded in how it's expressed.
Cable punditry from the left sprouted as a necessity to counter the verbal bomb-throwing from the right. It's like the need to enter a house full of vampires in order to eradicate them.
And now we have Juan Williams - distinct alliteration there - put on a pedestal because he simply says he's scared of certain people in certain situations, not because of the behavior exhibited by those people (although I admit Packer fans can be obstreperous) but because of who they are.
NPR made a rational decision and now has to retreat into a bunker for a while. An NPR official may have gone too far in suggesting that Williams might need to consult "with his psychiatrist." That comment should have been directed at O'Reilly. Or at Newt Gingrich who shows up often on Fox News to follow his pro wrestling script.
I admit that like Williams I find Packer fans to be somewhat ominous or menacing with their zeal, but making a hard-edged comment in a prejudicial way on a popular television platform is uncalled for. It's unseemly. And it wouldn't even be tolerated at our McDonald's table.
C'mon Mr. Williams, even our favorite lab assistant "Beaker" wouldn't be scared of Packer fans, or Muslims.
-Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Evacuation in Morris gave us perspective

The rap on the door came fairly late Monday evening, at least late by our standards. We don't just automatically answer the door at that hour. Because we're semi-rural, we really don't expect people stopping by.
I looked out the front window and could immediately see this was a Morris policeman. The calendar hadn't quite reached Halloween so this had to be a real policeman.
My goodness, was there danger out there that we needed to get a heads-up about? Or had I been spotted uptown not wearing my seat belt, and were they coming to get me?
I didn't know the cop's name because with the exception of Chief Beauregard, I don't know any of the policemen anymore. I once read that "you know you're getting old when you ask 'when did they start hiring kids to be policemen?' "
As a rule I don't think people know their local policemen like they used to. Just like they don't know their neighbors as well.
The fact I go to bed early and get up early means I'm not the type of person who crosses paths with law enforcement often. Something about being active at night seems to encourage this affinity.
Why was this policeman outside our door Monday night? Had I written something critical of Alaska Tea Party candidate Joe Miller and he called the police on me?
Maybe there were zombies headed in our direction. There could just as well have been, as we were told to evacuate. I had a baseball bat available to deal with the zombies. But the reality was that there was an ominous cloud heading our way. The courteous policeman told us there had been an anhydrous ammonia leak nearby.
Unfortunately this was one of those times with minimal wind out here on the blustery prairie. Wind would have dispersed the stuff. I guess that cloud was pretty menacing. Our family in its bedtime state, both in appearance and state of mind, got into our Town Car and headed downtown.
Our dog was obviously going to be part of this adventure. Sandy was going to meet some people, like Warrenn and Jeri Anderson, who he otherwise might never meet.
First we stopped at the police headquarters which is temporarily located at a main street office building. It's temporary because our county commissioners are building the Taj Mahal at the regular location.
Chief Beauregard was present and he was just in the process of deciding where the shelter for people (and animals) like us was going to be. He seemed calm and collected and he chose the UMM P.E. Center (with the RFC).
We were the first of a flood of people that would spend part of this memorable night away from their homes. Media estimates had between 250 and 300 people being evacuated. This appeared to be a bigger emergency than when that black bear was loose in town.
I'm not sure what that cloud would do to people. Apparently it's pretty nasty stuff. I often see these anhydrous ammonia tanks being hauled here and there, and I'm embarrassed to say I don't really know what it is or what it does. But if this leak is as serious as what we were told, it's use must be supervised very carefully and there must be serious sanctions for lapses.
We heard a siren but at the time did not distinguish it from any other siren that might wail over town. Later we were told this was a specific "civil defense" siren - the type of thing we were told in the 1960s we'd hear if the Commies started launching missiles over here.
Actually our house was built during that narrow window when "fallout shelters" were recommended in new homes. So we have one, and we still have the manual for it - probably a collector's item. Society eventually realized that if atomic weapons were going to start getting detonated all over the place, life wouldn't be worth living anyway.
That miserable Cold War faded and we realized the Commies probably were never the threat we thought they were. We made a stand in Viet Nam and lost something like 60,000 of our young men in the process. We withdraw in disarray. But Communism unraveled anyway. The boomer generation will never be able to completely "move on" from all that.
It was heartening to see what happened at the P.E. Center/RFC during the emergency. People bonded and helped each other totally. Nobody cared about looking sleepy or disheveled. A member of my family was in his pajamas. Some of the luckier "refugees" had laptops to entertain themselves.
People came with their pets with no hesitation. After the stories we heard about the Hurricane Katrina evacuations, when pets (unbelievably) weren't allowed, I would not have assumed such an open door for our companion animals. I had told Chief Beauregard that I was prepared to stay out in the car with Sandy (half American Eskimo, half poodle).
I don't think anyone would have dared say "no pets." I think we probably would have just defied any such individual. I suppose there are liability concerns in connection with animals. Tough. Risk is a part of life. If you need to be evacuated, you need to accept the risk of being around other people's animals (but maybe not black bears).
The P.E. Center/RFC shelter was used for about three hours. Everyone could not have gotten along better. The emergency personnel who supervised all this get an 'A' grade.
But the local authorities should try to ensure this never happens again. The responsible party should wear a dunce's cap for a while. The police helped us out great, and in the wake of this can go back to their primary mission of issuing seat belt citations and raising revenue. (And once again I'll say no, I haven't received a citation of this type myself.)
The Monday night emergency pulled us away from our routines which can be a healthy thing sometimes.
It gives us perspective. It puts our trivial concerns in the background.
It makes us value what's really important - our lives and each other.
-Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Thursday, October 21, 2010

MAHS boys soar up to 60-plus points in win

Morris Area 64, Long Prairie-Grey Eagle 14
The Morris Area football Tigers made the pinball machine ring again, figuratively speaking, as they scored lots of points in downing LP-GE at Long Prairie. The Wednesday affair saw Eric Riley and Tyler Hansen pound forward for lots of yardage with a minimal number of carries. This was a big ingredient in the Tigers downing the Thunder 64-14.
The win was part of a highlight-filled week for Morris Area and Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta athletics. I still refer to the week as "MEA Week" but I think this may be an outdated term. The annual mid-week football game is always a signal that we're on the threshold of the playoffs.
Coach Jerry Witt's Tigers can feel optimistic and they can also feel thrilled about winning the West Central-South Conference championship.
The title was not just theirs for the taking Wednesday, at least not on an outright basis. They entered the game tied with Lac qui Parle Valley for No. 1 in conference.
Lac qui Parle was eyeing its first title in nearly 20 years but their bid was dashed by Benson Wednesday. Benson edged the Eagles 7-6 at Benson so the door was open for the offense-fueled Tigers to finish alone at the top of the heap.
It was mission accomplished for the orange and black crew.
Eric Riley did his share making that pinball machine ring Wednesday, as he had touchdown runs of 41 and 62 yards, and he finished with 119 rushing yards in just six carries. Tyler Hansen made it ring with TDs scored from one, 20 and 48 yards, and this Tiger had 105 rushing yards in his mere six carries.
Again we can assume that the Tiger offensive line was authoritative. (If I were interviewing coach Witt like in the "old days," I'd get these guys' names. - BW)
The Tigers have truly been putting on an offensive clinic in recent weeks. Upcoming opponents will be scratching heads trying to draw up ways to slow our scoring machine.
Tigers to host Benson at 7 p.m. Tuesday
The focus is on the playoffs now. Big Cat Stadium is going to become a very popular place. This will be the venue for the Tigers vs. Benson playoff game at 7 p.m. this coming Tuesday, Oct. 26.
The Tigers are the on-paper favorite as they own the No. 2 seed compared to No. 7 for Benson.
But comparative scores easily show that the Tigers could be challenged. Benson beat Lac qui Parle Wednesday and the Tigers have fallen to Lac qui Parle.
The Braves will face a stiff challenge trying to quiet that "pinball effect" (i.e. the Tigers' run-wild offense). And the Tigers will feel buoyed playing at home.
Continued mild weather might help the MAHS pep band make another appearance or two. It adds a dimension.
Here is the seeding list: #1 Eden Valley-Watkins, #2 Morris Area, #3 BOLD, #4 Lac qui Parle Valley, #5 Yellow Medicine East, #6 Minnewaska Area, #7 Benson and #8 Paynesville.
The Tigers aim to break away from their all-too-common script of winning their first game in the playoffs and losing the second. The goal of course is to reach the Metrodome. The pep band would sound quite fine there, overlooking Mall of America Field.
I covered the Tigers when they played Breckenridge in Prep Bowl. Unfortunately the Tigers were stopped in that pinnacle game so there's still a summit for the program to strive to reach. A little more noise from that pinball machine, and that summit might just be realized.
Benson beat Lac qui Parle Valley Wednesday with a key defensive stand late. The Eagles were looking at fourth-and-five in Benson territory with the clock showing 2:41 left to play.
The pivotal play unfolded with Dylan Erickson, the LQPV signal-caller, scrambling and hoping to connect with a receiver. He opted to run. He almost achieved the first down but he was forced out by Brave Scott Bridgland just shy.
Benson's 'O' unit trotted out and was able to exhaust the remaining time and preserve the one-point edge.
LQPV was hurt by four turnovers on the night. All of this game's scoring was in the second quarter. Cody Jaeger scored the lone Benson touchdown and he also kicked the point-after. No pinball game to be sure, but Benson did what was needed to win.
The Lac qui Parle touchdown was scored by J.D. Struxness on a reception from Erickson. LQPV made what turned out to be a key decision in going for two on the conversion, and got stopped on a run.
In other WCC-South action Wednesday, Minnewaska Area downed ACGC in a lively and high-scoring game, 31-22; BOLD defeated Montevideo 31-6; and Yellow Medicine East thumped Paynesville 32-6.

Eventful MEA week for Tiger athletics
The one-two punch of Dan Tiernan and Roy Reese helped propel the MA-CA boys cross country team to No. 1 in the conference meet team standings Tuesday.
It was a headlining day for Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta athletics as in the girls sphere, the volleyball team rallied back after falling into an 0-2 hole against ACGC. The volleyball Tigers wore down the visiting Falcons to prevail 3-2 in front of a home crowd that must've gone home feeling drained.
Cross country runners from around the WCC-South gathered at Montevideo for the annual conference challenge. Roy Reese was the individual champion last year when he was a freshman, and he's still a top-tier runner, but this year he settled for third as teammate Dan Tiernan was able to establish a slightly faster pace.
Tiernan arrived at the finish chute No. 1 with his time of 17:28. Cade Robertson of LQPV-DB was second and then came the orange and black-clad Reese whose time was 17:53.
Aaron Goulet placed sixth (18:05), Matt Cotter 14th (18:44) and Gage Anderson 15th (18:46).
Tiernan is a senior and he placed eleventh in last year's conference race. He and Robertson had a duel through much of the Tuesday race which was blessed by quite fine weather. Toward the end of the 5K distance (3.1 miles), Tiernan was able to turn on the jets to prevail, reaching that chute (a great sight for tired runners) with an eight-second advantage over his rival.
The girls distance is 4K and in this event, Tera Walker of LQPV-DB was able to turn on the jets when it counted to enter the chute No. 1 (15:35). Walker has raced in state four times. But these days she has an up-and-coming teammate on her heels: Alaysia Freetly, an eighth grader. Freetly faded to fourth but watch for her in the future. LQPV-DB is girls team champion for 2010.
The MA-CA girls placed fifth led by Makenzie Smith who placed seventh with her time of 16:25. Rachel Rausch placed 27th (17:41), Jana Loher 33rd (18:10), Becca Holland 37th (18:25) and Julia Sauder 37th (18:40).

MA-CA girls wrap up WCC-South at 8-4How about some bumping, setting and spiking? There was plenty of that in the marathon five-game volleyball match Tuesday at home. The Tigers downed Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City by these scores: 23-25, 13-25, 25-12, 25-20 and 15-9.
The Tigers and Falcons wrapped up the WCC-South slate with identical 8-4 records.
Erin Schieler was a force at the net as she so often is, and her kill total on the winning night was 22. She complemented this stat with eight ace blocks.
Carrie Roske was a dependable performer further back from the net and this Tiger had 49 digs. Mackenzie Weatherly was a pillar in the Tigers' surging with her serving, a department where she recorded six aces.
Sydney Engebretson came at the Falcons with six ace blocks. Kelsey Loew and Dani Schultz each had three ace blocks and Shadow Olson had one.
The annual MEA week may be relaxed in some respects but in the sports world, it's most intense and rewarding!
BTW I got an email from a friend yesterday that reads like a fortune cookie: "Keep up your good work on sports coverage, and you will eventually reap rewards."
What could be more rewarding than staying close to these activities?
-Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"Turn out the lights" for sport of football?

In an earlier time you could say football is barbaric and people around you would recognize the fundamental truth but it wouldn't change their behavior. They'd sit down in their favorite couch for Monday Night Football and enjoy Howard Cosell, Frank Gifford and "Danderoo" (Don Meredith, the very folksy color man who I understand now isn't in very good health).
I remember reading a book called "The Violence Game" about the New York Jets during the Joe Namath era. And we're supposed to enjoy this? Violence? This is admirable?
In an earlier time, the ability to win a game while dishing out violence was considered admirable. Translation: It was considered manly. Of course, our culture has been through significant changes that have rendered terms like "manly" archaic.
Terms like that simply connote a sense of being brave or undaunted, but what does gender have to do with it?
Women have progressed light years in sports since the 1960s but they aren't put in position to beat their brains out like in the male sport of football. How fortunate and much more enlightened they are!
This current 2010 football season is significant because for the first time, we are hearing persistent talk and concern about the health effects of football. The talk is so much more than those old offhand remarks about football being barbaric.
I was sitting at breakfast at McDonald's the other morning telling friend Brent Waddell that "it isn't necessary for these guys to bash their heads in order to entertain me."
I wonder if this thought is beginning to dawn on a lot of people.
It's hard to withdraw from football completely because it's such a tempting distraction on weekends. Or has been. People's behavior can change. Take a look at the sport of boxing. It's hardly on the periphery for sports fans anymore.
We used to anticipate those ridiculously hyped ("Thriller in Manila") heavyweight bouts. (This was parodied nicely in the movie "Mars Attacks" by the Jim Brown character, a casino doorman, as he remembered his "Shaker in Jamaica" bout.)
I remember as a kid when all the buzz was about the upcoming bout between Sonny Liston and Cassius Clay. "Clay" turned out to have been a slave name and this boxer shed it. He became Muhammad Ali. He seemed like a bigger than life figure, transcending sports and getting implanted in our psyche.
But he was slowly being destroyed by his sport. We see the effects today in his greatly handicapped position, and it's not an isolated case. Former Minnesota Viking Wally Hilgenberg appears to have been a victim of his sport.
We learn that Lou Gehrig probably didn't die from Lou Gehrig's Disease. He had a degenerative condition that aped the symptoms of ALS but was due to the damage done his body by baseball and football. You'll recall that Gehrig ("The Iron Horse") was a famous New York Yankee. But he was also a football player of note in his younger years when I suspect football was more raw and violent than it was later. Leather helmets?
Today when I hear about someone like Vern Gagne having dementia, I can't help but suspect that his sports background did damage to him. This is the year when awareness throughout society is making leaps. Advances in medical science are revealing more and more on the connection.
Is it a gross exaggeration to suggest that football as a sport is endangered? Well, I think not.
Boxing went into retreat over a relatively short timespan. Mike Tyson biting off an opponent's ear didn't help either. But some of these helmet-to-helmet hits we had Sunday in the NFL are hardly more palatable than the ear-biting.
I frown and wonder if I'll really be able to pull away from this sport. I think it's happening slowly.
Reading about Brett Favre photographing certain parts of his anatomy for presentation to female colleagues (all right, allegedly) might help in the process too. I'm not sure what Howard Cosell could have said about that in an earlier era.
Dandy Don was famous for singing "Turn Out the Lights, the Party's Over."
Maybe the mayhem in football, the barbarity, will make that song apt for the sport itself.
-Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, October 16, 2010

MAHS football rolls past Monte on road

Morris Area 54, Montevideo 22
The Morris Area football Tigers have been scoring so many points lately, it makes you want to look for the three-point shot statistics in the game summary. On the heels of putting up 73 points against Paynesville, the Tigers engaged in another Arena League type of game (i.e. with nonstop offense) Friday at Montevideo.
The Tigers got through the Monte defense as if that defense were a cheesecloth curtain. The Tigers amassed nearly 300 rushing yards in the first half alone.
Coach Jerry Witt's orange and black crew defeated the Thunder Hawks 54-22. It was their fifth win of the season, and they're tied with Lac qui Parle Valley for No. 1 in conference.
The type of running game exhibited by Morris Area Friday showed this is a team that could go far in the playoffs. To the Metrodome? Coach Witt would chuckle at such a suggestion because it's premature.
But Witt had to watch spellbound along with MAHS fans as Tyler Hansen rushed for 173 yards in the first half while Eric Riley plowed forward for 100-plus (in the half). Superlative.
One can presume the Tigers' offensive line earned an 'A' grade for its work (or A+). The Tigers finished the game with 389 rushing yards. Hansen accounted for 193 on just nine carries of the football, plus he scored four touchdowns. Riley had 116 total rushing yards on eleven carries, and this Tiger reached the end zone twice.
The Tiger defense limited Monte's capable passer Brett Bergeson to 18 passing yards.
The Tigers scored in every quarter and it all began with a Tyler Hansen four-yard run. Following a Monte score, the Tigers put together three straight touchdowns beginning with Hansen sprinting 50 yards into the end zone. Riley carried for the next two scores from 21 and 40 yards.
Monte answered with an 86-yard kick return by Joe Bednar for a score. But Hansen answered that by finding his own daylight to score on a kick return - a thriller covering 89 yards.
The points kept accumulating as Hansen carried for a 21-yard TD. Then it was Tim Ostby's turn as this Tiger scored on an 18-yard run.
Montevideo scored on a one-yard touchdown pass, after which the Tigers recorded the last score on this offense-flavored night. Jacob Torgerson, the Tigers' understudy quarterback, connected with Logan Manska on a ten-yard touchdown pass.
Hansen, Jordan Fletcher and Tim Ostby had their turns kicking for the PATs. Ostby rushed for 43 yards on six carries and Ethan Bruer carried twice for 18 yards.
Ryan Beyer completed four passes in eight attempts for 76 yards and had none picked off. Torgerson completed two of his four attempts for 34 yards with no INTs.
Bruer was on the receiving end of four passes for 76 yards. Manska had his touchdown grab, and Ostby had a catch covering 24 yards.
Cody Hickman intercepted a Thunder Hawk pass.
Next for MAHS: at Long Prairie-Grey Eagle Wednesday, 7 p.m.

Bump, set, spike!
The Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta Tigers of volleyball began a very busy week with sweep victories on Monday and Tuesday, before getting humbled with a 1-3 loss Thursday.
The Monday story was a 3-0 home win over West Central Area by scores of 25-9, 25-14 and 25-13. Erin Schieler was her usual force at the net and on this night she contributed 13 kills and six ace blocks to the winning mix. Mackenzie Weatherly was in the groove at the serving line, coming through with nine ace serves to join that mix in a high-profile way.
That mix was enhanced by Terianne Itzen with her eight kills, Dani Schultz with four ace serves and Carrie Roske with 18 digs. Tigers with ace blocks, in addition to Schieler, were Itzen and Sydney Engebretson each with two, and Kelsey Loew and Schultz each with one.
The Tigers didn't miss a beat as they charged into Tuesday action, again at home, and this time the opponent was Benson. Again the Tigers won by sweep, this time with scores of 25-18, 25-22 and 25-11.
The Monday and Tuesday wins pushed the Tigers' overall record to 16-7. Beating Benson also put Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta in a deadlock for second in conference, with those Benson Braves.
Erin Schieler came at the Braves with 21 kills. She surged to the net to execute six ace blocks. Another cog in the sweep momentum was Mackenzie Weatherly who turned in 18 assists and four ace serves. Carrie Roske was busy in the digs department with her 20. Schieler was followed in total blocks by Shadow Olson with three, Terianne Itzen and Sydney Engebretson each with two, and Kelsey Loew with one.
Braves who had their moments in the losing cause included Ashley Landmark, Natalie Mikkelson and Emily Auch.
The MA-CA girls entered Thursday knowing they couldn't count on the kind of success that marked the start of the week. They visited Olivia to face a highly-touted BOLD Warrior team that could taste the WCC-South title.
Erin Schieler pounded down 17 kills but it wasn't enough as BOLD had a group of spikers that spelled victory for them. BOLD had to work through four games to get that win, but when all the bumping, setting and spiking were done, BOLD volleyball could savor that conference championship.
The Warriors won with scores of 28-26, 24-26, 25-22 and 25-22. It was the Warriors' tenth conference win against no losses, and 18th win overall against four setbacks. Quite a campaign for the Warriors.
Carrie Roske racked up 35 digs for MA-CA Thursday. Mackenzie Weatherly executed four ace serves.
The 7-4 conference won-lost numbers owned by MA-CA coming out of the night were good for fourth place.

Dan Tiernan runs to No. 1 in invite
The runners of Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta cross country were in action Tuesday for the Benson/KMS Invite. Tiger Dan Tiernan was the individual champion in the boys race with his time of 17:29.17.
The MA-CA boys as a team finished second behind Sauk Centre. Roy Reese finished fourth, Aaron Goulet fifth, Gage Anderson 14th and Matt Cotter 17th.
The Streeters were lifted by having the #2 and #3 individuals behind the champ Tiernan.
Mackenzie Smith led the MA-CA girls' effort, reaching the finish line No. 10. She was joined by Rachel Rausch, Jana Loher, Julia Sauder and Sarah Kuhn.
Sauk Centre won the girls division too.

Matthews-Saugstad wins at #3 singles
Turning to tennis, Krista Matthews-Saugstad defeated Morgan Jaenisch 6-2 and 6-3 at third singles to pick up the lone Tiger victory in a recent dual vs. MACCRAY. Krista's fellow Tigers in the singles division were Rory Anderson, Jenny Hennen and Marlee Morton. The Tiger doubles teams were Ranae Mullin and Kelsey Schreifels, Megan Wagner and Darcey Aronson, and Kendra Buro and Kjerson Anderson.
The weather has stayed mighty cooperative for late-season fall sports.
-Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, October 11, 2010

Shemp Howard was everyman, overachiever

"Shemp" of the Three Stooges laughed out loud when reading "the funnies."
The comic section stays alive in newspapers even as newspapers themselves fade. Papers have been tossing out a lot of dead weight but the funnies seem secure. Papers will stick to whatever works and not be embarrassed about those decisions. They are supposed to have such a lofty purpose in society, and I suspect there was a time when this perception was justified.
Today "the press" is everywhere. But it needn't manifest itself on paper. We are inundated with reporting and expression online through a dizzying array of sources. The sheer quantity has been an impediment for a time.
But the online world gets over every hurdle it confronts; it just takes time sometimes. Systems for the organization of online material, so we can find what we want and depend on it, are still being tweaked. Does anyone doubt we will reach the desired destination? The Internet has flexed its muscles unimpeded, mainly because those who might have a self-interest in stopping it cannot find a way.
Politics and big business have cowered in its presence. The media landscape has been flattened. The process of democratization has been fascinating. The meritocracy of the web has pushed aside that "velvet rope" that journalists once had to be let through, to reach an audience.
I almost have to pinch myself to see if I'm dreaming.
But I can't just mention Shemp (Shemp Howard, in photo) without elaborating further on that comedy. Shemp had the no-win task of filling Curly's shoes when the one-of-a-kind latter became handicapped by the effects of a stroke. I wish medical science could have prolonged Curly's prime. But life went on and the chemistry of the Three Stooges had to be kept intact.
The basic chemistry did in fact survive even if "the third Stooge" wasn't the total crowd-pleaser that his predecessor was.
Let's back up: The Three Stooges didn't become a household name just through impulsive, slapstick jabs at comedy. As one critic once put it, "there was a lot more to The Three Stooges than violence."
The Stooge characters, of course, didn't want to hurt anybody. They connected with people on the most primal level. They seemed happy just to greet each new day with something to do, never mind that they'd make a mess of it. They were undaunted. They weren't crestfallen by their failures.
They moved on to the next challenge. In this sense they reflected the American spirit - the spirit that developed a continent.
Shemp was a trooper in how he filled that void caused by Curly's premature retirement. He knew the Stooges' shtick even though he couldn't bring the laughs like his predecessor. Curly just had that talent i.e. the intangibles, like Don Knotts in the 1960s in "Mayberry."
Knotts had his own successor when he moved on (to movies), and there's no way I could come up with the name of that successor. The new deputy exuded a comic type of air but he wasn't even a shadow of Knotts with his impact on the TV screen (no disrespect intended).
Shemp laughed at the "funnies" during a classic Stooges short called "Sing a Song of Six Pants." They tried making pancakes on an ironing board in that one.
I can't think of Shemp Howard without remembering the movie "Private Buckaroo." I first came upon that 1942 movie during late-night TV many years ago, probably in the early days of many-channel TV (when the movie "It's a Wonderful Live" became a classic because of its availability in the public domain, i.e. through economics).
Watching "Buckaroo," I at first thought "oh, this is another one of those World War II period movies, encapsulating the period for us." But as I watched further, I got kind of an uncomfortable feeling - an eerie type of feeling that there were subtleties projected below the surface.
The movie really wasn't so innocuous. Granted, it was vital for the U.S. to mobilize a fighting force at that time, but this movie was propaganda. It was benevolent propaganda but it was propaganda. As one online observer puts it, "The Army looks like a really fun place in this movie."
Shemp Howard, trumpeter Harry James, the Andrews Sisters and Joe E. Lewis were among the top-billed actors. "Private Buckaroo" was crafted to get young men in America enthused about joining the military.
Shemp seemed a rather odd choice for his role but he performed it like a trooper. Maybe the idea was to make this obviously ungraceful, rather homely man look like he could step into heroic shoes in the military. . .so anyone could! Hollywood isn't stupid.
We can laud Shemp Howard as perhaps the classic overachiever, a guy with limited ability to make you laugh but with perseverance in his craft. Then again, I remember someone once writing of Larry Fine: "You know, Larry was never really very funny (in the Three Stooges) but it wouldn't have been the same without him."
We can argue that the childlike Curly was never truly replaced. Most fans figure that the closest we got to that was a guy named Joe DeRita at the end of the Stooges' long run. There's truth to that. I was always bothered by the fact that Joe DeRita bore a physical resemblance to Curly but was surely no substitute. DeRita got a thumbs-up from fans because he loved the role and was a proven comedic craftsman. In the final analysis his only real shortcoming was that he wasn't Curly!
The Three Stooges were lovable with their innocence, their innate caring attitude toward "real" people and their undaunted, unfazed approach to life - so truly American. Shemp is a model for people who might feel inadequate with their own talents or attributes. He worked hard and achieved enough fame that I'm writing about him today. His legacy is that he's the guy who picked up the torch from a one-of-a-kind comic and kept the comic engine running.
The Stooges were one of the longest running comedy acts ever.
America might have expected the Stooges to fade at one point. But then something unexpected happened: the new medium, television, those glowing boxes in the living rooms of middle Americans, blossomed!
Kids shows like "Casey Jones" cropped up in late afternoon hours. I remember "Captain Eleven" out of Garden City, South Dakota. These shows had time to fill. Ergo, how about old comedy shorts? The Three Stooges, Laurel and Hardy and others gained fame that leaped beyond the boundaries of their heyday when they were current.
The Stooges were tapped for movies. "The Three Stooges Meet Hercules" was a major Hollywood accomplishment because it was cheap to make but did boffo box office. We learned that the Stooges' formula was timeless. And it was so much more than violence.
The Stooges' incompetence made us laugh at our own potential for incompetence in our daily lives.
Some people have always hated The Three Stooges. My old boss, Jim Morrison, is in this group and he wasn't amused when watching Three Stooges films (from an old-fashioned "projector") at the Morris Lions Club-sponsored Halloween parties. I always tease him by giving him a heads-up when a Three Stooges "marathon" is coming up on cable TV. But I don't think Jim has cable TV anyway.
I have read that women tend to hate the Three Stooges. Perhaps the thought of such irresponsible men terrifies them. Or the thought of three men living together? Would two be more appropriate? The Monkees in the 1960s was a show about four guys living together. The original concept for the Monkees worked but the show deteriorated, probably because America wasn't ready for it yet.
The Three Stooges with Shemp stayed viable even with Curly departed, even though the humor was dispensed in a little different fashion. The concept of the Stooges still worked and the concept was the most important part. There was craftsmanship there that the average viewer couldn't readily appreciate. It wasn't just three stumblebums.
A close analysis shows Shemp to have been very gifted comedically and in the Stooges' mold 100 percent. He was a trooper both in this ensemble and in Private Buckaroo, the latter helping build the war effort, so he deserves nothing but posthumous admiration.
Shemp Howard, RIP.
-Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Tigers pummel Paynesville at Big Cat

Tommy Holland gets hoisted up in celebration following his 90-yard TD kick return. Photos by B.W.
Mitch Kill brings down a Bulldog in the Friday win.
Tommy Holland turns on the jets for MAHS in the win over Paynesville.
Eric Riley carries the football for the Tigers on a big night for the running game.

Morris Area 73, Paynesville 20
70-plus points? That's not a typo. The Morris Area football Tigers put on an offensive showcase like perhaps no other in the program's history Friday. The orange and black cause was never so dominating as it was at the expense of the visiting Paynesville Bulldogs.
Two Tigers surpassed 100 yards rushing. As a team the rushing stat was 429 yards. There were six, count them six, rushing touchdowns by coach Jerry Witt's pounding-ahead squad. There were just three pass attempts but all three were completed for a bushel-full of yards.
The Tigers were unmerciful in the second quarter putting 31 points on the board. This was en route to the final 73-20 score which was good for Morris Area's fourth win of the season against two losses.
Next for the Tiger crew: at Montevideo Friday, 7 p.m.
Friday night's onslaught amidst summer-like conditions (even with bugs) never really lost steam. The Tigers scored 14 points each in the first, third and fourth quarters to complement the second quarter barrage.
A picky critic might say the Tigers could've taken their foot off the accelerator toward the end. But how can you stop someone like Tommy Holland who finds daylight on a kick return and sprints 90 yards for a score? Prior to that there was a 37-yard TD pass, the necessity of which might be questioned. But the onus was on Paynesville to simply go out there and throw up some roadblocks. They simply couldn't on this night.
The crowd at our Big Cat Stadium was nice but it didn't appear as large as for the previous week's Homecoming game. There were many empty bleacher spaces on the outer sides and even some open patches in the middle.
On an up note, we can report the first football game appearance this year by the Morris Area pep band. The band filled up bleacher space on the north side but after halftime it became pretty barren. Too bad, because the Tigers presented an evening of entertainment that cannot be matched in this community.
Maybe if more fans came to this website to follow the team, awareness and enthusiasm might be higher!
The green-clad Paynesville squad entered this game with some stability as it had recorded two wins. One would hope that the losers in those games don't end up matched against the Tigers.

Fast, furious scoring
Let's rumble through the scoring summary from the Friday blowout: Eric Riley got it started with a 72-yard scoring run. After a Paynesville score, Riley carried again for a touchdown, this time covering 34 yards.
Paynesville kept things interesting with a one-yard TD plunge that had Josh Bungum carrying the ball. Morris Area was about to streak away on the scoreboard.
Tyler Hansen carried for a 63-yard score. Tyler proceeded to score the next two touchdowns as well, with carries from the one and the eight. Ethan Bruer brought a crescendo of cheers from the Tiger faithful, returning a punt 53 yards for a score. Bruer then broke loose to haul in a 60-yard TD pass that was delivered by quarterback Ryan Beyer. Success continued with the aerial game as Brady Valnes caught a 15-yard score from Beyer.
Tim Ostby carried the pigskin into the end zone from the seven. Ostby then caught that 37-yard pass that some might say constituted some superfluous points. But it was fun to watch and the Tiger throwing the ball for that score was understudy Jake Torgerson.
Paynesville scored with a pass, and after that the only remaining score was that Tommy Holland kick return that really seemed to excite the young Tiger fans standing along the front railing at Big Cat.
Jordan Fletcher kicked his share of PATs through it all.
A look at the stats shows Tiger ballcarriers averaging very healthy gains. Like Eric Riley whose numbers were nine carries for 169 yards. And Tyler Hansen who tore through Paynesville defenders for 126 yards on eight carries.
Ryan Beyer rushed for 58 yards, Tim Ostby for 46 and Ethan Bruer for 29.
Beyer was two-for-two in passing and Jake Torgerson one-for-one. The pass catchers were Bruer, Valnes and Ostby.
Tigers who intercepted the football were Cody Cannon and Jake Torgerson. Standouts on the tackle chart were Beyer, Ostby, Cody Hickman and Holland.
A personal note: A big thanks to the people befriending me during my time along the MAHS side of the field Friday. Thanks Meriel Cardwell, Mary Bellmore and others. Some of the fans look at me as if to say "hey, I know who you are," and "where have you been?"
It's an indescribable delight to be there.

A Tiger volleyball update:
It was an up-and-down week for the Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta volleyball Tigers. Make that "down and up," as initially the Tigers were down in their fortunes, getting swept by the BBE Jaguars on Monday. The Tigers fell by the following scores at the home gym: 20-25, 16-25 and 16-25. It was a non-conference match and it left the Tigers' record at 13-7.
The MA-CA girls had difficulty trying to counter a senior Jaguar whose prowess at the net was notable. Maggie Gruber was this stellar individual. Gruber pounded down 17 kills at the expense of the Tigers. She has been a cog in a BBE win skein which on Monday reached 14 matches.
The Jaguars came out of Monday with glittering 18-2 season won-lost numbers. Other capable Jaguars at the net were Taylor Braegelman, Brittany Roelike and Shyann Kuefler.
Erin Schieler helped supply some up moments for the Tigers as she came through with three ace blocks and 12 kills. Dani Schultz supplied some positives with her 14 digs too.
The Thursday story had MA-CA volleyball in action vs. Paynesville and faring much better. The Tigers downed the Bulldogs in the minimum three games, 25-21, 25-16 and 25-15.
Fall sports promise plenty more thrills down the home stretch of the slate. Will it stay warm?
-Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, October 8, 2010

Moss back as Viking: yes, it's monumental

Randy Moss, a Viking again? How did that get arranged? It seems too good to be true. I'm not sure the enormity of this acquisition has sunk in yet.
Randy Moss represents one of the most celebrated chapters in Minnesota pro sports history. He had a gift like perhaps no other athlete here. I never cared for the nickname "The Freak," but it shows just how mesmerized we were.
Moss has an ability to carry a team on his shoulders. His teams don't like to admit that role because the emphasis is always supposed to be on "team." He makes other players on his team look better than they are. He draws attention from other players and stretches the field. He can streak down the field and within moments, turn a close game into a fairly comfortable win.
Moss brings marquee value too, to a team that already has the most mystique-shrouded name in the NFL in Brett Favre. Moss and Favre together will be a virtual magnet for TV viewers. Our Flyoverland team will have a big-time air comfortably surpassing the New York City teams.
And to think the Vikings are the one Minnesota team stuck in the "old" Metrodome. (Does anyone associate the name Hubert Humphrey with it anymore?)
The U of M Gophers made the escape from the Dome but their futility on the field seems never to have been greater. The Minnesota Twins escaped the ping-pong palace for their new outdoor playground, which has won raves, but as I write this they're 0-2 in the playoffs vs. the Gotham unit.
So after a marathon 162-game schedule, the Twins will sink or swim in a short series in which a single umpire's call - a "ball" call on an apparent strike that may have given the Yankees their game #2 win - may make the difference.
The NFL wants an 18-game regular season schedule instead of 16. It's still just a handful of games. And I love that, because each game has significance. You tune in to ESPN Sportscenter on Monday and get the in-depth analysis of each of the Sunday's games.
In baseball there are too many games to pay any attention to an analysis of any one. Watching ESPN on Mondays in the fall is one of the great delights of life. There are unique storylines in any given week. Most of them you just can't predict. There are offbeat game highlights and pure human interest angles.
You don't suppose we'll get some interesting human interest angles now with Moss on the Vikings, do you? I absolutely don't care if Moss "dogs it" once in a while. He's age 33 now and he'll have to "pick his spots" anyway. I have seen no evidence that Moss has fallen (much) from his prime.
Sometimes wide receivers "stay at the dance" too long. Like Jerry Rice. Or a Viking from long ago named John Gilliam. But I think Moss is most capable of still supplying highlight-reel stuff. So this acquisition is truly monumental.
Fans have been a little distracted by the Twins, so the excitement has been a little subdued. On Monday night, as if by magic, Moss will be out on the field as a Viking again. Surely the significance will sink in quickly, once we see those long legs and sheer elan of a uniquely talented athlete make its mark, hopefully burying the New York Jets.
(. . ."and stop calling me Shirley.")
The Vikings have made other bombshell mid-season acquisitions through the years. I still remember the Star Tribune headline word-by-word, when one of these happened: "Vikings get Manning, Casper in trade."
Our eyes bugged out at the sheer enormity of those names. We're talking about the father of the famous Manning boys in the NFL today. Archie Manning was in the twilight of his career. He had a health issue that I believe wasn't fully diagnosed at the time. He faded as a Viking. Tight end Dave Casper wasn't the hoped-for-godsend either.
We had the Herschel Walker acquisition which, based on what we gave up, helped create a Dallas Cowboys dynasty and give Jimmy Johnson a chance to repeatedly utter that forgettable line: "How 'bout them Cowboys."
How 'bout that trade, Jimmy?
The celebrated Walker trade allowed Minnesota Vikings GM Mike Lynn to forgo having to negotiate contracts with a bunch of high draft picks. That was nice for him and not so nice for the legions of Vikings fans.
Mike Lynn! I remember him giving the inartful quote as follows: "If you think my wife is attractive, you should have seen her 20 years ago!"
We all hope Moss is aging better!
-Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A cartoon picks off an old scab

A fellow sat in a time machine in a syndicated cartoon that caught my attention one day.
"Set it to 1973," the associate standing next to him said.
Then came the gag line from the guy in the machine: "Why?"
That was it - that was the gag line.
We were supposed to feel amused at the idea of anyone wanting to go back to that year. I suppose I should take that personally because I graduated from high school in 1973.
None of us chooses when we are born or when we experience our formative years. Baby boomers look back at some particular hurdles that American society seemed to thrust at us - festering problems that would call on us to slowly but surely pick up the mantle of leadership.
The slow part was aggravating.
We can lose sight of the fact that we lacked power then. We lacked the really meaningful leverage but we could vent in socially unacceptable ways. We could be antisocial or self-destructive, and in a backhanded way we were delivering a message even through the foolishness.
Or am I just rationalizing?
Today we do have regrets. But such thinking is through the prism of the present. We have power and leverage now - each generation takes its turn - and we won the cultural wars which no one can dispute.
We still fight shooting wars, us Americans, but we don't force any of our own to take up arms. We just have a "back door" system of conscription in which we send National Guardsmen (unwittingly?) or young people from impoverished backgrounds who lack options.
The latter route has filled the ranks of the military around the world for eons. Lots of those "bad guy" redcoats from our American revolution were just young men lacking options.
We're fighting terrorism now, which seems like a noble cause. Fighting Communism (as in Viet Nam) was not.
Communism was a boogeyman invented by the 1950s version of the tea party in America. Communism ended up fading on its own. The people under its rule insisted on something better. We needn't have applied all of that Napalm.
It's human nature to see everything through that prism of the present.
That cartoonist wanted to jar us a little. He wanted to adjust that prism in an instructive way.
I suspect many of the cartoon's observers were puzzled in the fraction of a second that they probably devoted to the cartoon. They either didn't get it or felt it wasn't a point worth making.
"The past is past, let's move on. Let's devote a fraction of a second to a different cartoon, one that might make us laugh. Isn't that what cartoons are supposed to do?"
Consider the limited attention span of today. And the sea of information and opinion that is out there.
The time machine cartoon stayed with me because the artist didn't want to let go of what he remembered about that time. Most likely he was coming of age then.
"Oh, but we can all remember some bad things that happened years ago."
True, but the cultural things happening in the late 1960s and early '70s were far-reaching and traumatic for many people - the young first and foremost. The residue is still very much out there.
Chris Matthews of MSNBC is a pundit who remembers and understands well. Matthews reminds us often in a very knowing, sobering way. I suspect this is why William Ayers, a modern-day boogeyman in the eyes of the political right, was willing to go on Matthews' program.
Ayers had entered the vortex of the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign. He almost seemed like a comic book figure by the end. Today's media do that to a lot of people.
Matthews wasn't wholly sympathetic to Ayers but he at least could set the appropriate context. Matthews knew that the unique schism of that bygone time brought out some bizarre or destructive behavior.
Boomers know that Sara Jane Olson (a.k.a. Kathleen Soliah) wasn't just a pure criminal. She did things that we cannot condone, but as with Ayers the context has to be weighed. There were shades of gray.
I read an analysis of the Sara Jane Olson episode that acknowledged the boomers' perspective. To paraphrase: "Sara Jane Olson did some bad things, but people of a certain age know those were different times."
I'm a little more sympathetic to Ayers because the main thrust of his pushing-the-envelope behavior was to get the U.S. out of Viet Nam. This is what caused graduation ceremonies of the era (mainly in 1970) to get cancelled. This is what resulted in students shot dead on the campus of Kent State in Ohio.
Today's young people can read about this but they might have trouble relating. They can be forgiven because none of us can really step into that imaginary time machine.
I can't relate to what it was like being on the home front in "the good war," World War Two. Or to be actually over in Europe fighting, or in the Pacific Theater. I once read where WWII had a "dreamlike" quality in the eyes of many on the home front. We emerged from that war unified and convinced we could pretty much set the agenda for the whole world.
But it wouldn't be that simple.
Subsequent military engagements were clouded in terms of purpose and outcome. Perhaps we have always wanted to relive that "good war," but it's delusional. The delusion reached its most pathetic depths in our adventure in Viet Nam.
The youth of that time were bewildered by much of the legacy that we were on the threshold of inheriting. As all generations do, we gained power with time and instilled our values.
We have forgotten some of this today as we focus on our personal and parochial ends. How about stepping into that time machine? And setting it to 1973? And listening to Elvis singing "My Way!"
("I'm just an entertainer" is how Elvis answered questions about Viet Nam.)
A new young generation is coming along that will impress a true digital universe that will wipe out many of the cumbersome institutions, or fundamentally reshape them. The old models of industry and government could get virtually torn down and recreated.
The U.S. Postal Service will be just the start!
Systems with elaborate physical infrastructure, redundancies and paperwork will get wiped out. Oh, boomers will see a lot of this as drastic. We like to stick with things that are familiar, as it's human nature.
I once read of the "Greatest Generation" that these people "never changed." It was a compliment. It was reassuring. They were temperate people who took care of nuts-and-bolts matters that related to their own lives. They felt this was totally proper.
They felt unsettled by activist urges to actually yank the U.S. out of the Indochina conflict and push civil rights forward with active confrontation. Heaven forbid, no confrontation! They encouraged conformity in a way that their children found stifling.
"Conformity" was indeed a buzzword of the time. As in, let's reexamine it! It became conventional wisdom in most educational circles to reject it. This rejection sometimes got conflated into some counterproductive ideas. We laughed at Cheech and Chong rejecting conformity.
Young people became discouraged in a way that made them think that various types of antisocial or self-destructive behavior were actually an appropriate way to vent. This is a dirty little secret of the boomers. The scab gets ripped open when we hear of the likes of William Ayers and Sara Jane Olson.
Today we boomers must pray that past drug use and our over-tanning (in the sun, when a deep dark tan was most desirable) don't literally shorten our lives or cause infirmity.
Ah, it's a trait of youth to consider ourselves invulnerable. Today we see most vividly how vulnerable we are. We reflect on wild and unsettling times, when positive change was blended in with silliness, irreverence and actual blatant vice, and we try to blot some of it out.
That's why most of us might wince about getting into that time machine and going back to 1973.
I remember a scholar once observing that the conflict represented by the popular team "generation gap" was "as severe as the U.S. Civil War" but on a different plane, sans guns. Today's young people would surely think that's an exaggeration. They read in books about some of the conflicts of that time but it seems distant.
Living then would be a quite different proposition for them. That's why I thought the cartoon and its time machine were so memorable.
My high school graduating class at Morris High had the motto "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead." We had to have something provocative like that - it was a badge of the time.
Many graduation speeches implored us to question authority.
Today it's the opposite. Speeches today seem cliche-ridden and conventional, but I admit that's a generational bias on my part.
Maybe my problem is that I have a good memory or constantly feel the need for historical analysis.
Because those who forget the past might be condemned to repeat it.
Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Guiding virtues of moderation, part II

A few months ago I wrote about the importance of moderation as a general principle. OK, I'm hinting that perhaps this is leading to an endorsement of Tom Horner of the Minnesota Independence Party. It isn't, because as a general principle, third party movements are ill-fated and idiosyncratic.
Our political system in America wasn't designed to accommodate them. Our system wants you to commit.
The idea of committing yourself to something rather narrow has always been appealing for those of my approximate age (in our 50s). We were the generation that led the way making distance running fashionable, for one thing.
Looking back, it was a rather odd phenomenon. It required great exertion - something that would seem not nearly as appealing today, when you look around at all the severely weight-challenged people. Many people today would have to undergo a lengthy period of denial (denial of calories) before they even started a running regimen.
Our "Bible" (and that's hardly an exaggeration) was that book by James Fixx, a prominent best-seller with that red cover that would greet us at every bookseller. Then again, this was a time when "The Satanic Verse" could become a best-seller too. And "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance," apparently a pseudo-deep boomer favorite that I purchased and couldn't fathom at all.
Us boomers could have our pretensions in those days. Or delusions. And it may have been a case of mass delusion when we felt hours and hours of pounding the pavement, running, was some sort of route to optimal fulfillment or immortality or whatever.
Moderation has truly taken over today. Not that Horner is going to take the governor's office.
When I was young, the idea of paying a fortune for athletic shoes was absolutely foreign. It seemed there was less discretionary money back then to begin with. People of the Great Depression would be aghast at what we would end up paying for these things.
"Cross training shoes" gained in popularity. Middle-aged boomers decided that running until great pain set in was no longer part of their zeitgeist. A variety of less-taxing physical activities would do. But the pattern of moderation didn't even end there.
We have become aware of the RFC's financial challenges here in Morris, so now I'm wondering if people are opting for the total common sense approach to fitness, one that doesn't require trips to a special facility.
I have written before and will write again, emphatically: establishing a healthful diet with generous fruits and vegetables is the big step #1. Also, let's establish a lifestyle with reasonable stress levels and proper sleep ("early to bed and early to rise a la Ben Franklin, one of our Founders whom I'll quote without giving credit to Glenn Beck).
Lastly, as a purely complementary step, let's employ some daily vigorous walking. No need to spend a big chunk of change on specialized shoes or other "stuff" or an RFC membership.
We can remember the running "boom" as an historical chapter. It was when nearly every small town out here had a distance event. I mean even Barrett, Ashby, Elbow Lake and Donnelly. Yes, the Threshing Bee in Donnelly had a running challenge for a couple of years.
Most of these towns offered the full-fledged 10-kilometer challenge which is 6.2 miles. Many of them offered both the 10K and 5K, and then as time went by, many opted for just the 5K. I feel that running a good hard 5K (3.1 miles) is as good a workout as you could possibly want.
The "fad" period of running dictated that the longer distances were a special challenge. Fergus Falls had a 10-miler, unusual because it didn't follow the metric system.
As with all fads the luster faded. Boomers moved on to other causes and interests, while new generations had other priorities.
We all still pay at least lip service to fitness. But how do we square this with the high percentage in our population who are severely weight-challenged, who ingest the Big Macs and fries and suck down sugary beverages without hesitation?
A lot of these fat people would have raised eyebrows when I was young. Alas, they are an assumed part of the landscape today.
Yet we have the RFC today.
If your insurance premiums seem high, maybe it's because your company is helping pay health club memberships for people. It's the theory that people will be healthier if regularly visiting the RFC or some such place. But is this pure myth?
How do all these people manage their lives when they're not at the RFC? Is visiting the RFC little more than a way for them to combat guilt and rationalize a lifestyle in which calories and stress are all too much the norm?
To put it more bluntly, I have to wonder how much a person is helping himself, who tugs on a sweatshirt and walks some laps at the RFC, but who also wolfs down Doritos and rice krispie bars without hesitation in idle time.
We are surrounded with food temptations. In the old days you paid for gas by handing money to the attendant who'd then get your change. (This fellow would make sure your windshield was clean.) Today you stand there staring blankly as you fill the tank yourself, then go inside to pay where a nice big display tray of donuts or rice krispie bars greets and tempts you.
These businesses like self-service because they want you to come into the store and buy all that stuff. And lots of people do. Grab a Snickers bar. Or a large size Pepsi.
Go to McDonald's and get yourself two refills of soda pop because nobody restrains you. When I was young, McDonald's had one size of french fries (not large) and if you wanted a second cup of soft drink, you went up to the counter and ordered it.
Unlimited refills? Maybe on Mars.
But today we can seemingly pound down the calories all day. We do it without thinking, mostly, but then we get wakeup calls through the media: America is an obese nation. We see those "headless bodies" on TV, impressing on us this "crisis."
Forget about wearing those old Starsky and Hutch jeans. Today the men need "relaxed fit" or "loose fit." The older style is called "classic" not "slim." "Slim" is a tough nut to crack now. It seems we have decided not to even aspire to that now.
It's unsettling that "full figure" seems to be becoming fully acceptable.
We make a few token visits to the RFC to feel better about ourselves. But it's futile for insurance companies to help pick up the tab.
A better approach would be for everyone to find out his optimal weight from his physician, and then be rewarded with lower premiums if actually achieving it. It may be unattainable for many.
In the meantime, let's just heed moderation and its virtues.
And vote for Mark Dayton.
-Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Tigers beat Benson 27-14 for Homecoming

Brady Valnes applies pressure on the Benson quarterback. (Photos by B.W.)
Tyler Hansen exchanges handshakes with teammates in the final moments.
The Tiger defense, poised and ready to execute again in the 27-14 win.
A Tiger ballcarrier seeks yardage around a group of Benson defenders.
Everybody loves a parade! Here's one of the units that built Tiger spirit.

Morris Area 27, Benson 14
The Tigers scored big in two quarters, the second and fourth, as they treated the large turnout of Homecoming fans to a win Friday. Coach Jerry Witt's crew struck for 14 points in the second quarter and 13 in the fourth. The Morris Area football Tigers marked Homecoming week with a 27-14 win over conference rival Benson.
The temperature was a little chilly but this appeared to be just the slightest inconvenience, if even that. Clearly, the orange and black colors ruled at Big Cat Stadium. The 2010 Homecoming royalty were introduced at halftime amidst the festive trappings.
The Tigers ran at the Braves with abandon, accumulating 249 yards on the ground and passing sparingly but with great precision. The play that really seemed to break the Braves' back was a halfback option toss from Tyler Hansen to a sprinting Ethan Bruer in the fourth quarter.
Let's go back to how the night's scoring began, and this was with a Benson touchdown that enabled the Braves to emerge from the first quarter with an 8-0 lead. Cody Jaeger passed six yards to Sam Pederson for that score, and Jaeger also passed successfully on the conversion play, to Luke Schwarz.
The crowd was a little subdued in the first quarter when the Tigers failed to score, but that situation changed completely in quarter No. 2. Quarterback Ryan Beyer connected with Ethan Bruer for a 25-yard scoring pass. The conversion run attempt was stopped.
The Tigers surged into the lead when Tyler Hansen reached the end zone on a 12-yard run. Eric Riley was handed the football on the conversion play and he, too, reached the end zone, putting the Tigers up 14-8 which is where the score stood for halftime and its festivities.
The third quarter was scoreless.
The Tigers applied a dagger to Benson's come-from-behind hopes when Hansen made a perfect throw on that halfback option play. Ethan Bruer caught the ball in stride in this highlight-reel type of play. A roar of cheers cascaded down from the Morris Area side of the field. The extra point kick try was blocked.
Beyer ran for the Tigers' final score of the night. This was a 15-yard scamper and it was followed by Jordan Fletcher's successful extra-point kick. Benson ended the night's scoring as Derek Hilleren reached the end zone from the two. The conversion run try was stopped.
The final seconds ticked off with the satisfied orange and black fans looking up at the 27-14 score on the Big Cat Stadium scoreboard.
Hansen was the No. 1 workhorse carrying the football for Morris Area. He rumbled for 139 yards on 21 carries. His big play pass also made him the top passing yardage contributor. He was one of three Tigers each of whom completed one pass. Beyer and Jake Torgerson were the others.
Beyer gained 55 rushing yards on 16 carries of the football. Eric Riley plowed ahead for 38 yards on 13 carries. Tim Ostby rushed for 16 yards and Jordan Fletcher for one. The Tigers catching the football were Ethan Bruer (two receptions, 62 yards) and Tim Ostby (one, for ten yards).
On the defensive side, Mitch Kill came through with an interception, and Eric Riley and Brady Valnes achieved fumble recoveries. Standouts on the tackle chart were Eric Riley, Cody Hickman, Tim Ostby and Micah Fehr. Ostby sacked the quarterback once.
The Tigers are preparing for week #6 with a 3-2 overall record and 3-1 showing in conference play. Week #6 will have the Tigers hosting Paynesville at 7 p.m. Friday.
Other action yesterday (Friday) saw Yellow Medicine East beat ACGC 14-6, Minnewaska Area down LP-GE 27-6, and Paynesville roll offensively to defeat Montevideo 34-22.
Check out the Tiger football page on Maxpreps. Click below.

Check out the Morris Area football page on Facebook:

Tigers prevail in volleyball too
Prep volleyball this past week saw the Tigers win with a dominating flair over Montevideo. Erin Schieler came through with 15 kills as Morris Area/Chokio-Alberta volleyball won by sweep over the Thunderhawks. Haley Scheldorf and Carrie Roske each came through with four serving aces. Dani Schultz set the pace in digs with her 22.
Scores in this Tuesday sweep were 25-16, 28-26 and 25-7.
It was ditto on Thursday as again the Tigers won by sweep, this time applying the sting at Yellow Medicine East vs. the Sting. Scores were 25-23, 25-23 nd 33-31.
The MA-CA girls did their part making Homecoming week at Morris Area memorable, to be sure.

A personal note:
Several weeks ago yours truly (B.W.) was thrilled just to be inside Big Cat Stadium, now I can relish having spent some minutes along the home sideline!
Coach Witt said in the afternoon that it would be just fine if I came over to the Tiger sideline and behaved like a media person (the mantle that is associated with me).
Why not? The always-amicable Sharon Martin encouraged me too. Marie Hansen gave me the thumbs-up post-game, saying "the more the merrier."
Well said. Some kids may have spotted me as I fumbled to get my reading glasses on, to read the camera settings, and said "who's that old man?" Well, that old man covered the Tigers when they were in Prep Bowl at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. I traveled far and wide to cover the Tigers, even going to Rushford-Peterson, and it's a delight to join in with the scene again.
I imagine that today's (Saturday) Morris newspaper has a review of the previous week's loss to Lac qui Parle Valley. Strikes me as a rather stale product. Fans might be advised to look for new coverage avenues like this website. Our contemporary media are always evolving.
Thanks for visiting.
-Brian Williams - morris mn Minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com