The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports Columns

October 18, 2013

Playoff time is when football season becomes fun

The high-school football season goes by so fast.

Eight games in eight weeks, each drawing an enormous amount of attention and hype. You can plan your fall Fridays around the local 11, and you generally get a pretty good bang for your entertainment buck.

But now is when things get really fun. It’s playoff time, when teams you don’t expect to win get hot and make a nice run and other teams that you think have a good chance to advance to the state tournament get upset along the way, producing good drama over the next five weeks.

It’s no surprise to see Mankato West seeded No. 2 in Section 2AAAAA; Chaska is undefeated and formidable. As the two seed, the Scarlets could have a tough opening game against No. 3 Chanhassen, which should win its quarterfinal game against Waconia.

Through playoff football, West and Chanhassen have built a rivalry. There have been some great games between these teams, including last season’s 28-21 overtime victory for West.

Waseca has been a terrific story this season, winning the last South Central Conference championship and going undefeated. Yet, that wasn’t enough to claim the top seed in Section 2AAAA, which belongs to defending state champion Hutchinson. The Bluejays have played an interesting schedule, which included nonconference road games with Little Falls, St. Croix Lutheran and Fridley. That should make Waseca battle-tested for a possible road game at Hutchinson.

It will be interesting to see how Belle Plaine bounces back from Wednesday’s loss at Tri-City United. The Tigers were ranked No. 1 in Class AAA and still held onto the top seed in Section 3, receiving a bye. That was an emotional game against TCU, and Belle Plaine has only five days to regain the form of the first seven games.

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