Area football teams start section playoffs
All the preparation since the middle of August has come down to tonight's games, as area prep football teams will need to win or pack their bags for home.
Every path will be tough to the state football playoffs as each area team is hoping they have hit that proverbial wave of momentum.
Here is a breakdown for each area team for tonight's start of the section playoffs.
It's been awhile since the Detroit Lakes football team has had to jump on the bus for a first-round playoff game, but after going 3-5 in the regular season, that's the exact situation they find themselves in.
The Lakers travel to Sauk Rapids-Rice to face the 6-2 Storm, which plays in the tough Central Lakes Conference.
The Storm employs a similar squad the Duluth East Greyhounds had last week, as the Lakers made a furious 21-20 comeback win to create some of that momentum every team desires.
"Sauk Rapids is a good, solid team," said DL head coach Flint Motschenbacher. "They have good athletes and play a real aggressive."
The Storm have had some impressive wins, including handing No. 2 seeded Alexandria their only loss of the season in the opener by the score of 14-7.
Sauk Rapids also downed Moorhead 7-6 on the road, while losing to St. Cloud Tech 24-14 and undefeated and No. 1 seeded Sartell 38-13.
The Lakers showed some strong spirit in their season finale victory over Duluth East and Motschenbacher hopes to see more of that tonight.
"The kids played hard and played with a purpose," the DL coach said. "I was pleased with the effort."
The screen pass has been a nice tool for the Lakers the last two weeks, with Nate Baker pulling off two big plays through the formation.
Baker's 74-yard screen catch-and-run set up the eventual game-winning touchdown and two-point conversion, while a 69-yard touchdown pulled DL to within striking distance of Thief River Falls two weeks ago.
Motschenbacher wants more consistency from the rushing game, which has picked up 1,181 yards total for a 4.1 yards per carry average.
Sophomore Alex Mason leads the way with 510 yards for an average of 4.96.
The keys for the DL defense against the Storm is to limit their big plays, Motschenbacher said.
"They'll want to have ball control and they run some misdirection and spread it out some, but we have to start the game better than we have the last couple of games," Motschenbacher added.
The winner between the two will face the victor between No. 2 Alexandria and No. 7 St. Cloud Apollo Saturday, at the high seed, starting at 7 p.m.
Frazee has found that wave of momentum and they hope to ride it as long as it takes.
The Hornets (6-2) won their last five games after starting the season 1-2 and has been keyed by a potent rushing attack, headed by Matt Viste and Mike Moltzan.
Viste claimed the Northern Valley Plains rushing crown with 1,079 yards, while Moltzan was third with just over 800 yards.
"It's really nice having two of the top three rushing leaders in the conference on the team," said Frazee head coach Jim Rader. "And both are quick to credit their offensive line, too."
The start of the season was a bit rocky, with losses to No. 1 seeded Barnesville (37-0) and NO. 2 Hawley (57-8) in the second and third weeks of the season.
But the Hornets recovered nicely, outscoring their final five opponents by a 184-88 margin.
"The season progressed well and we struggled there at the start because we were so young," Rader said. "We basically have just two seniors starting on defense. Our sophomore and junior players have grown up fast."
The Hornets will host No. 6 Pelican Rapids (2-6), which also have played with a young lineup this season.
"Pelican Rapids is a good team, their personnel is the same as ours, in that they are pretty young," Rader said. "We feel our gameplan is solid and we should come out playing pretty well."
No. 2 Hawley (7-1) gained a break through the first round after No. 7 Bagley forfeited after being hit with a bad case of the flu and they didn't have enough players to field a team.
Hawley's only loss came against state-ranked Class 1A's Barnesville and they employ a big offensive line and a dangerous backfield.
Hawley will host the winner between Frazee and Pelican Rapids, while No. 1 Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton hosts Walker/Hackensack-Akeley and No. 4 United North Central travels to No. 5 Warroad.
The Mahnomen Indians secured an important No. 2 seed for the Section 8-1A playoffs and will host Badger/Greenbush-Middle River (1-7) tonight.
The Indians (5-3) had losses against Hawley, No. 1 seeded Fosston and Lake Park-Audubon.
Mahnomen also lines up with a youthful roster, but a solid defense and consistent rushing attack has been a key in the Indian's seed.
The winner will face the winning team of No. 3 Warren-Alvarado-Oslo and No. 6 Fertile-Beltrami. The Indians defeated both teams during the regular season.
No. 1 Fosston hosts No. 8 Cass Lake-Bena, while No. 4 Lake of the Woods will entertain No. 5 Red Lake County.
This year's road to the state playoffs will be a hard one to repeat for the No. 3 Lake Park-Audubon Raiders, which is in a bear of a section this year.
The Raiders (6-2) will host No. 6 Pine River-Backus (3-5). A second round advancement will be either at No. 2 Browerville or hosting No. 7 Pillager Saturday.
The Raiders have picked up where they left off last year and that's with a high-scoring offense and a stout defense.
Speed is once again a key for LP-A's success as they have outpaced their opponents by a wide margin of 270-97.
But Section 6-1A is filled with worthy state playoff teams, as No. 1 and undefeated Barnesville sits atop of the rankings.
No. 2 Browerville (7-1) is talented, but even No. 5 Royalton -- which was moved into the section this year -- employs a tough team.
The Royals (5-3) knocked LP-A out of the state semifinals inside the Metrodome last year and they are the only team which has handed Browerville a loss this season.
No. 4 Upsala/Swanville can't even be overlooked and they are one of the teams which marked a loss in Royalton's defeat column, as well.
Section 6 9-man
The Waubun Bombers lost a lot of big-time seniors last year and it's been a work in progress since then.
The team to beat is top-ranked Ada-Borup, which thumped Waubun (4-4) 51-0 during the regular season.
Waubun will take to the road to face No. 3 Nevis (4-4). The winner will play the victor between No. 7 Norman County West and No. 2 Norman County East.
All first round games Tuesday (7 p.m. start at high seeds).
No. 8 Fergus Falls (0-8) at No. 1 Sartell (8-0)
No. 5 Little Falls (4-4) at No. 4 Rocori (5-3)
No. 7 St. Cloud Apollo (0-8) at No. 2 Alexandria (7-1)
No. 6 Detroit Lakes (3-5) at No. 3 Sauk Rapids (6-2).
Section 6 9-man
No. 1 Ada-Borup gains a bye
No. 5 Ulen-Hitterdal at No. 4 Northland
No. 6 Waubun at No. 3 Nevis
No. 7 Norman County West and No. 2 Norman County East.
No. 8 Parkers Prairie at No. 1 Barnesville
No. 5 Royalton at No. 4 Upsala/Swanville
No. 6 Pine River-Backus at No. 3 Lake Park-Audubon
No. 7 Pillager at No. 2 Browerville.
No. 8 Cass Lake-Bena at No. 1 Fosston
No. 5 Red Lake Central at No. 4 Lake of Woods
No. 6 Fertile-Beltrami at No. 3 Warren-Alvarado-Oslo
No. 7 Badger/Greenbush-Middle River at No. 2 Mahnomen.
No. 8 Walker/Hackensack-Akeley at No. 1 Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton
No. 5 Warroad at No. 4 United North Central
No. 6 Pelican Rapids at No. 3 Frazee (6 p.m. start)
No. 2 Hawley gains bye after No. 7 Bagley forfeits game.