Section 6-1A proving to be a tough one
Barnesville's football team has thought all along it should be ranked higher in Minnesota's Class 1A poll.
The Trojans are about to get the boost they've been waiting for.
Barnesville, the eighth-ranked team in Class 1A, took down Class 2A power Hawley 33-16 last weekend, so these Trojans are for real.
"I think the kids were mad," said head coach Bryan Strand. "We weren't getting a lot of respect in the polls and things like that, so we had a big chip.
"We just wanted to play with them because of the way things have gone in the past, and we showed everybody that we could play with them."
Like a lot of teams, Barnesville had gotten whipped by Hawley each of the last two seasons.
Last year, the Nuggets beat them 57-6, and the year before that the Trojans were on the nasty end of a 47-7 decision.
But not this year. Barnesville forced five turnovers and racked up 21 second-half points on the way to the victory.
"We forced five turnovers and controlled their running a bit," Strand said. "It was a hard-hitting game. They're definitely a very, very good team, but our kids really rode the emotion of the game."
Barnesville isn't rolling with one or two good players, and it isn't a senior-heavy group - only eight seniors are on the roster.
Offensively, the Trojans run the Wing-T, and six different players have scored at least four touchdowns.
Jacob Grosz leads the team with 471 rushing yards, and Jacob Bashor is close behind with 340. Both have six touchdown runs.
As a team, the Trojans are averaging 7.5 yards per carry. The offensive line of Andy Janssen, Jacob Kletsch, Brad Halverson, Cory Amundson and Gus Settelmeyer are small - they average around 190 pounds - but they're good.
"That line is not big at all, but we try to make up for it by blocking at angles so we don't have to be bigger," Strand said. "With our Wing-T, three or four guys are getting the ball a lot, so you can't key on one person."
Barnesville's defense has been awesome, too.
Hawley was the first team all season to score against the Trojans' first-team defense, but managed just 15 points. Coming into the game the Nuggets were averaging 59.6 points per game.
"We're not a very big defense, but we're very quick and we fill holes," Strand said. "Hawley was really the first team to drive down the field on us, but come on. That's a pretty good team."
Barnesville's section is also filled with some pretty good teams.
Section 6 also boasts Browerville (5-1), Lake Park-Audubon (5-1), Royalton (4-2) and Upsala-Swanville Area (4-2).
LP-A's only loss was to Barnesville in the season opener, and Royalton was in the state Class 1A championship game last year.
"This section is tough," Strand said.
"I think we are locked in to get the No. 1 seed, but playing the fourth or fifth seed shouldn't be a cakewalk.
"The five seed in that section could easily be 6-2, and whoever comes out of that section has a good chance of going far."