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Here we go again! The Minnesota Twins got us all psyched up for a run at the playoffs, which was only partially defused by losing two out of three against Kansas City at Target Field last weekend. The Twins lost 7-6 in the first of the three-game series, and ended it with a 5-4 loss, but in between the Twins riddled the Royals for a 17-0 romp.
So they hit the road for Tampa Bay, and they lose on Monday, then they nearly get no-hit while losing again on Tuesday night. That meant the Twins had lost four out of five games, and their once-comfortable hold on the second Wild Card spot in the American League is suddenly completely up for grabs.
All we can do is watch and enjoy it for entertainment value, as football blends in and is poised to take over our focus.
A couple of early college games were nothing short of mind-blowing, but we also had some dazzling performances right here in ol’ Duluth. I grew up going to Duluth Central, back in the days when Central, Denfeld and East made a powerful Big Three in area football, and Duluth Cathedral and Morgan Park were tough, too.
Two Harbors rested there up the North Shore, occasionally getting a good run of athletes, but rarely putting together the sort of depth needed to battle the big schools from Duluth.
Last Friday night, we had the chance to kick off a new broadcast on KJOQ, 1490 AM, with the Two Harbors-Denfeld game at Public Schools Stadium. My recommendation was that we know about East and Denfeld, and also Hermantown and Cloquet, but from all I heard, I suspected two classic darkhorses on the local high school football scene might be Proctor and Two Harbors.
Proctor is always a tenacious band of over-achievers, and it just seems like Two Harbors has a run of athletes coming through. So let’s try the Two Harbors game at Denfeld.
We did not know about Spencer Ross, a tough and quick senior running back for Two Harbors. The teams played a scoreless first quarter, trading big-play drives without a point, but the Agates ended the quarter on the Denfeld 5.
First play of the second quarter, Ross, running hard out of the Two Harbors tight-bunched double-wing, slanted into the end zone on the first play of the second quarter. Denfeld came back to make it 7-6 on Montrell McMillan’s short run but the pass for two failed, and it was 7-6.
After that, it was all Spencer Ross. The Agates scored three touchdowns in the second quarter, with Ross adding runs of 29 and 14 for a 20-6 lead. To be fair, McMillan launched a 50-yard Hail Mary pass from the right sideline as the clock ran out, with Avionte Williams leaping amid a tangle of bodies for a great catch. But he came down on the 2, and there was no time left.
In the third quarter, Two Harbors got possession at midfield, and Ross slanted through again, sprinting away from the Hunters for a 41-yard touchdown, and on their next possession, Ross broke through at the 20 and scored again. After three quarters, Two Harbors led Denfeld 34-6 and Ross had scored all five Agate touchdowns.
It ended up 41-14, with Denfeld getting the last touchdown. Surprising how 41-14 sounds so much better than 41-6. But it occurred to me that the game might have represented the most points Two Harbors had ever scored against a Duluth school, and possibly the largest margin of victory, at least in my lifetime. Not sure, and if anybody knows, send an email to The Reader.
Two Harbors goes home this Friday to face Esko, and the Eskomos had better tighten their chin straps, because this Two Harbors team is talented and quick, and they also have a defensive end who doubles at tight end on offense in Logan Loiselle, who is a senior that goes 6=4 and 215 pounds.
A bigger game this week has Proctor at East in another game where the big, proud Duluth school had better be prepared for the speedy and tough guys in green, who hammered International Falls last Friday in their opener.
UMD SOCCER OFF AND RUNNING
Coach Greg Cane doesn’t put his UMD soccer players out in the same sort of line arrangement that hockey uses, but he does have three attackers -- among several others — who seem to fit together to create consistent offense.
The three have different attributes, with Skye Finley the top goal scorer, while Natalie St. Martin and Madison Carey. The third and clinching goal in last Thursday’s season-opening victory over Wisconsin-Parkside put all three on display.
St. Martin, who had scored th first goal and assisted on the second, fed Carey, who was hustling deep on the right side. I thought she was going for a wide-angle shot, but coach Greg Cane straightened me out. It was a set play, with Carey crossing a pass in front of the goal.
Parkside goal-keeper Adrianna Bratel chose to block the pass, but as she committed to diving for the ball, it squirted past, and Finley was at the far side of the goal to put it away.
The Bulldogs battled Wisconsin-Parkside through a scoreless first half, then erupted for two goals three minutes apart, as Finley rushed up the middle and fed St. Martin, who broke in alone and scored. Three minutes later, Logan Nash sent a corner kick from the left side and Emily Fleissner scored amid heavy traffic at the goal. That set up Finley’s closing goal.
A tougher test comes this weekend when UMD plas at Northern Michigan and Michigan Tech before coming home to open Northern Sun play against St. Cloud State next Tuesday.
COLLEGE GRID SURPRISES
If you were surprised that Maryland whipped Texas 51-41 in their college football opener, consider Tennessee, UCLA, and Howard.
Tennessee was heavily favored against Georgia Tech, but wound up tied and they battled through two overtimes before Tennessee got the go-ahead touchdown and extra point, then gave up a touchdown to Georgia Tech and stopped a 2-point conversion try for a 42-41 victory.
UCLA was getting hammered 44-10 by Texas A & M in the Rose Bowl, and their fans were streaming toward the exits when the Bruins started coming back. They got a touchdown to end the third quarter, and then Josh Rosen threw four unanswered touchdown passes in the fourth quarter, and UCLA shocked the Aggies 45-44.
But the biggest surprise of all in Week 1 might have been tiny Howard, which was a 45-point underdog at Nevada-Las Vegas. Picked to finish ninth in the 11-team Mid Eastern conference, a rookie quarterback named Caylin Newton made his debut for Howard by rushing for 190 yards and two touchdowns, and passing for 140 yards and a third TD, and Howard beat UNLV 43-40.
And that was just Week 1!