Eric Morken is the sports editor at the Echo Press and Osakis Review newspapers in Douglas County, MN. Follow him on Twitter at echo_sports.
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Through more than 70 minutes on Tuesday night, both the Brainerd and Alexandria boys' soccer teams saw some solid scoring chances slip through their fingers. Then with one perfectly placed ball, the Cardinals' Nick Heseltine made his team forget all about that. Heseltine set up for a free kick from 30 yards out with about eight minutes left in a scoreless tie and was thinking one thing. "I really just wanted to put it on net," he said. "We really needed a good shot, so I was just hoping to put it somewhere near where he couldn't reach it.
The Cardinals football team is looking for progress through the early portion of the schedule with a young roster, and they believe they found that within the first game of the season last Friday. Sophomore running back Jake Bear bounced back from a slow start and a fumble at the end of the first half to show some of the burst coaches are excited about. Justin Cumberbatch showed off his power between the tackles on his way to 90 yards rushing on just 10 carries. Junior quarterback John Vogeler was admittedly timid in his first varsity start.
The Osakis football team couldn't overcome five turnovers in its season opener last Thursday as the Silverstreaks fell 18-8 against Prairie Conference foe Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg. The Saints and Silverstreaks played to a scoreless tie through two quarters but two interceptions and three lost fumbles made a win all but impossible for Osakis in the end.
Tyler Schlosser couldn't hide his enthusiasm over how the first game in the history of the Prairie Valley football program unfolded last Thursday night. After all, it was just a year ago that Schlosser and his Parkers Prairie teammates were on the receiving end of a lot of games that got out of hand early. Now, after the merger of the Panthers and Eagle Valley programs, it was Schlosser and a new-look team that delivered that punishment in a 48-0 win for the Nighthawks over Brandon-Evansville. "It's awesome," Schlosser said. "Our whole team is getting to the ball on defense.
St. Cloud Tech came into Citizens Field on Friday night as one of the favorites in the Central Lakes Conference. The Tigers then went out and played like it as they built a 21-0 lead by the half and held on for a 28-13 win over Alexandria. Cardinals head coach Mike Empting knew there might be some early jitters with his young team, and that proved to be the case. Alexandria turned the ball over three times in the first half. Perhaps the biggest came after Tech had taken a 6-0 lead.
The Cardinal volleyball team never wastes any time testing itself against one of the state's best programs. Alexandria and Marshall have opened the season against each other for the last seven years. This time, the Tigers came in as the defending Class AA state champions and ranked No. 1 in the opening polls. Alexandria hung right with them through the majority of two sets before Marshall used late runs to win 25-18 and 25-16.
Alexandria football coach Mike Empting called the kids in his top two classes this year outstanding; he just wishes he had more of them there. Empting knew the low number of athletes out for football in this year's junior and senior classes would mean a lot of sophomores would be competing for starting and back-up positions. That presents a challenge going up against senior-laden teams in the Central Lakes Conference. So how big of a concern is it for this team? "To be successful, you have to have that senior presence," Empting said after the team's morning practice last Tuesday.
The Prairie Valley Nighthawks will kick off their inaugural season this fall after Parkers Prairie and Eagle Valley paired in football this past off-season. The two schools merged together after Eagle Valley went 10-1 and Parkers Prairie struggled through a 1-7 season. The Panthers' final game in 2011 came in a 62-10 loss that was handed out by a few of their new Eagle Valley teammates. Only three letter winners return from that Rebels team.
Alexandria power forward Logan Doyle didn't need long to decide where he would play his college basketball once he got the offer he was looking for. Doyle had South Dakota State University near the top of his list after they started showing interest. It took Doyle just 24 hours after Jackrabbits' head coach Scott Nagy sent a scholarship offer his way before he called back to tell him how excited he was to play for SDSU starting in 2013. "It was one of the happier days of my life," Doyle said. "That was the one I was waiting for.
Shawn Nelson, owner of the Full Nelson Fight Club in Alexandria, has worked with others in the area to bring the Rumble in the Lakes to the Runestone Community Center on August 24. The mixed martial arts cage match event will feature amateur fighters from all over the state. Eight local fighters will be featured on the card as Doug Jasken, Brad Vickers, Ryan Harris, Aaron Poelaert, Tyler Larson, Bruce Butler, DJ Neuoer and Cody Pahan will step into the cage. "There's going to be some really good match-ups," Nelson said. "We've got guys from all over the state coming in and fighting in this.