"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)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Tigers' superb season ends at Husky Stadium

NL-Spicer 28, Tigers 14
First the football season ended and then the electioneering ground to a halt. We can feel happy the marathon of campaigning is over. We'd love to have the football season continuing. Many are called, few are chosen.
The MACA gridders showed a very high caliber through the 2012 fall. But they lost for the first time in the section finals. The pads are retired. Bring on the skates and such.
The Tigers visited St. Cloud for the Section 6AAA finals Friday (11/2). Their challenge there would be to face New London-Spicer. The Wildcats didn't have nearly as good a record. But let's put up an asterisk here. I'm told the Wildcats played a 4A schedule. This probably served to toughen them up. The Tigers meanwhile closed out their regular season against a YME team that was so overmatched, they might have considered forfeiting.
The Tigers ruled in their first post-season game which was in the 6AAA semis, here. The success vaulted them to the section championship game at St. Cloud State University's Husky Stadium. The mighty Mississippi flows just beyond.
The Tigers couldn't duplicate the kind of success they enjoyed vs. Albany in the semis. The Tigers turned over the football four times in a 28-14 loss. So the memory-filled MACA season of 2012 is done. Just one loss.
The Wildcats' success vaults them into the state picture. They played a clean and precise game Friday, committing no turnovers (to the Tigers' four). The turnover differential can render many other of the game's numbers meaningless.
In many stat categories this looked like a very even game. The Wildcats had just one more first down than the Tigers (15-14). The total yardage figures spell "draw": 264 by our Tigers and 260 by NL-Spicer.
The game's first score was a shocker. The Tigers owned the ball and seemed to be executing smoothly. All that got snuffed out by an interception. Jacob Torgerson's pass was picked off by Joey Dreier. It was Dreier who gathered in the ball rather than the intended receiver, tight end Nic Vipond.
Dreier found daylight up the sideline. MACA fans groaned as the opportunistic Dreier covered 87 yards en route to the end zone. Dreier is a senior who had three previous interceptions this season. But it was his first score ("pick six"), quite well timed. (The term "pick six" didn't exist when I was a kid, nor did "walk-off home run.")
Coach Jerry Witt's Tigers took a deep breath and worked to answer that score. This they accomplished with a quite fine 77-yard march. "Quite fine" certainly describes the gimmick play that MACA used to score. This was the halfback option pass. Tanner Picht was the thrower. The completion was to Chandler Erickson and it covered 34 yards. Erickson had to overcome some rather tight coverage applied by Corbin Schwartz.
Picht wasn't done throwing. He did the job again on the conversion play, finding Austin Dierks. So the Tigers had the lead. Unfortunately this wouldn't be the norm for the night.
NL-Spicer has a ballcarrier of note in Austin Stone. The senior can be a bulldozer. On this night he'd tote the football for 179 yards in 30 carries.
It was Stone who was the main cog when NL-Spicer regained the lead. Time and again he'd charge forward and at the end of this scoring possession, he only had to carry for one yard. Adam Essler carried successfully on the conversion.
MACA wasn't about to stand pat for the rest of the first half. Less than two minutes remained but the Tigers felt this was easily enough time to do more offensive work.
Torgerson, looking unfazed by his earlier interception, took charge in a scoring drive of 57 yards. A pass of 44 yards stood out in a big way. Logan Manska made this catch from Torgerson. Manska plays wide receiver. He contended with defender Logan Brink to accomplish this big play.
Then Jordan Staples took over to help polish off this drive. The hard-charging Staples took several handoffs and reached the end zone on a three-yard run. Tom Holland had the ball seeking two points on the conversion. The savvy Reid Johnson of the Wildcats, linebacker, knew what Holland's intentions were and made the tackle behind the line of scrimmage.
Two of the Tigers' fumbles happened in the second half. The Tigers appeared to be battling gamely, but savvy fans could tell NL-Spicer was carving out an advantage at the line of scrimmage. This is always a worrisome sign.
No points were scored in the third quarter, nor in the first ten minutes of the fourth. Finally quarterback Ryan Vraa got the Wildcats' engines humming again. Vraa - is he the son of the old UMM quarterback? - found Essler open on a 19-yard scoring pass on fourth down. It was a back-breaker. Essler found a hole in the zone.
Stone was stopped on the conversion play - critical since MACA stayed within seven seven points with the score 21-14. The time remaining: two minutes.
Perhaps the biggest back-breaker occurred on the kickoff. The Tigers muffed the kick return, turning the ball over as Chris Nelson pounced on it at the 21. Stone capped a four-play scoring drive, running the ball in from the six to conclude the night's scoring.
Morris Area Chokio Alberta fans can feel good about our team's final 9-1 record.
Holland carried the football eleven times for 57 yards. Staples had eight carries for 32 yards. Picht picked up 22 yards in eight carries.
QB Torgerson had a superb completion percentage, finding receivers on ten of 13 attempts for 107 yards. His two interceptions were a blemish. Three receivers stood out: Manska (two catches, 44 yards), Erickson (3-47) and Picht (4-42).
Picht handled the punting, averaging 34.7 yards.
Vraa had only three completed passes for NL-Spicer.
Attention now turns to winter athletics for MACA student athletes. There isn't necessarily much of a break, I'm told. The hockey athletes will be strapping on skates pretty promptly, I'm told.
UMM football: Cougars end season
The UMM Cougars were defeated in their final game of the 2012 schedule, by St. Scholastica at Big Cat Stadium. Please click on the permalink below to read my game review which is on my companion website, "Morris of Course." Thanks for reading. - B.W.
You may click on the permalink below to read about the Cougars' games 7 through 9 of the 2012 season. This post too is on my "Morris of Course" site. Thanks.
Cross country: Smith 31st in state
MaKenzie Smith closed out her illustrious prep cross country career Saturday, 11/3, in Northfield.
Northfield has become the mecca for cross country devotees on the late fall date of the state meet. Smith of the MACA Tigers, who had finished second in section, arrived at the finish chute 31st Saturday. She covered the 4000 meters in 15:32.
The state meet is a true spectacle involving over 200 schools. Thousands of spectators were on hand.
Savannah Ramirez of Litchfield was the runner who finished ahead of Smith in section. In state, the Litch Dragon looked impressive with her seventh place finish. It was the third state meet for this seasoned harrier. Ramirez ran a sub-15:00 time for the first time.
Smith of the Tigers is coached by a most pleased Dale Henrich. Congrats to all.
Media notes:
The scheduling for the MACA football team's post-season games made it tough for the publication that purports to be the Morris newspaper. The paper comes out on Saturday now as you all know. It's an unpopular arrangement with many.
The readership has declined considerably according to the annual "statements of ownership" required by the U.S. Postal Service. The most recent one was published Saturday, 11/3. The Morris newspaper has about 2500 paid subscribers, down about 1/3 from the peak and at least 20 per cent down since the Morrison family ended their involvement. 
Anyway, the paper's schedule of publication made it impossible, embarrassingly so, for it to do justice to the Tigers' accomplishments at the end. The section semi-final game against Albany was played on a Saturday. The volleyball team played a post-season match the night before. Neither of these events could get covered in the Saturday paper.
The paper was unable to publish any sort of preview material about the section championship football game. That title game was to be played on a Friday. There is no mid-week issue of the paper that could fill these needs and serve the community.
The game against New London-Spicer has yet to be covered by the Morris newspaper as I write this. The last time I checked their website, the coverage of that game was just with a connection to West Central Tribune (Willmar) material.
Is this the kind of business you want to support with your advertising dollars? It's bad enough you have to try to cut through all the "noise" of that non-local advertising in the Morris paper, for example those "Scheel's" circulars. I can't even tell you where the nearest "Scheel's" store is. Is there even one in Alexandria? I know there's one in St. Cloud. Why not just shop at our local Town and Country and Shopko?
Drive to St. Cloud? Do they think we're stupid?
There was a possible solution to the football coverage/recognition problem. The crew that puts out "Morris Area Merchants" could maybe have put out a four or eight-page issue at midweek with a salute and good luck message for the Tigers.
"Morris Area Merchants" did this type of thing recently for the area firefighters. Finding a "theme" is in fact a good thing for this publication to try to accomplish. Its primary mission is of course providing advertising - advertising for Morris area merchants exclusively. It's a very important aim.
But some space could have been turned over to the salute for the Tigers. A team photo could be on page 1. We could read the essential preview facts about the section championship game. There could have been a couple paragraphs about the section semis game: the win over Albany. It would have been fun to get something like this.
"Morris Area Merchants" has my nod to take anything they might want from this website. I'll admit my style of journalism is more personal or subjective now than it used to be. But that's the license I get from the web. I'm still capable of writing "newspaper style" if I have to. Although, it's a myth that newspaper readers don't want to know the opinions of writers. Newspapers developed the dry and objective style only because of concern advertisers could be offended. They had to protect the golden goose. It's a golden goose that isn't what it used to be.
The Morris newspaper stumbled hopelessly for covering MACA football in the post-season. But they did bother to tell us, through their master-owner Forum Communications, we should vote for Mitt Romney. That's one opinion I really didn't appreciate knowing.
Forum Communications executives are probably gnashing their teeth this morning (11/7) about how poorly their favorite political party did, the party that promotes voter suppression and likes talking about vaginal probes.
An addendum re. football: Last year someone told me that MACA football coach Jerry Witt acknowledged my work when he spoke at the Lions Fall Sports Banquet. I hope he hasn't been told not to do that again. School administration might come under pressure from the local legacy media companies who have their old habits formed from when they had a monopoly.
School administration needn't cower in fear. In fact, I think the local public school should activate a school news bureau right on its own website. I've been saying that for a long time. I acknowlege they are taking some initial steps.
The media world has been turned upside down by technological innovation. Our school should try to harness all the wondrous possibilities. Mr. Monson, please think creatively. And, is it really necessary to honor the "press pass" that the local newspaper person flashes? The price of a year-long sports pass is very reasonable. It would be couch change for that parent company of Forum Communications. If the paper doesn't like this, they don't have to send anyone.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

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