Thole: Gopher gridders have a shot at Big Ten gold

Maybe we didn’t get Floyd of Rosedale or the Little Brown Jug, but the Governor’s Victory Bell is safe in our trophy case at Bierman.

Don’t forget, we still have a reasonable shot at securing Paul Bunyan’s Axe from that cheese-for-lunch bunch from Wisconsin on Nov. 23 at our place. We could win the Big Ten.

The Gophers (8-2) put these dreams in my head after that impressive 24-10 win over Penn State (5-4) on a cold and windy Saturday afternoon. I know I missed my mark when I wrote the Gophers would go 6-7 in my preseason column — and I also flubbed with the Vikings going 9-7 and the Ponies 7-3.

I base my optimism on the fact that the good guys don’t turn the ball over often, acquire few penalties, have a knack for big plays, have the hottest quarterback in our division with Philip Nelson and some fine young receivers in Derrick Engel, Maxx Williams and running back David Cobb — plus a defense that makes huge plays.

Before the Kool-Aid wears off, consider that Minnesota runs the table with victories over the Badgers at TCF and Sparty on the road for a 6-2 mark in the Legends Divisions. I know that’s a big if, but work with me here for a minute. It’s possible that the Huskers could knock off Sparty next week and Iowa could do us a favor and win the corn battle and give Sky-U-Mah a crack at snapping the Buckeyes unbeaten status.

Or maybe I’m not getting enough sleep.

Look where we were a month ago when TCF looked like the Battle of the Little Bighorn when Iowa left and a week later when we were trounced at Michigan.

It’s a hard thing to hold a team together through adversity, but the Gophers proved they could do it — though I know that further disappointments could be out there lurking in the shadows.

Let’s enjoy the moment. Go Gophers!

 

Thole Poll

Here is this week’s edition of the prep football Thole Poll.

1. Eden Prairie (10-0); 2. Rosemount (10-1); 3. Totino-Grace (9-2); 4. Roseville (9-2); 5. Maple Grove (10-1); 6. Osseo (9-2); 7. Hutch (11-0); 8. Owatonna (11-0); 9. Brainerd (11-0); 10, tie, East Ridge (8-2) and Lakeville North (8-3).

 

Girls tankers prevail

The Ponies girls’ swim team of coach Brian Luke swam away from the field at the Section 4AA Meet with 616 points, compared to Centennial with 484, St. Paul Central 249, Roseville 197, Tartan 193, White Bear Lake 158, North St. Paul 144 and St. Paul Harding 44.

Ponies swimmer Kylie Burgess receives her first-place medal from coach Brian Luke as runner-up Mary Knaak looks on during Saturday’s Section 4AA Meet at Stillwater Junior High School.

Ponies swimmer Kylie Burgess receives her first-place medal from coach Brian Luke as runner-up Mary Knaak looks on during Saturday’s Section 4AA Meet at Stillwater Junior High School.

Needless to say, the Ponies won all three relay events and qualified eight individuals covering 17 entries. Kylie Burgess and Mary Knaak placed 1-2 in the 200 freestyle and 500 free. Kylie Bisch won the 100 breastroke with Kristin Erf placing second. Erf won the 100 fly and Bisch was second by a fingernail in the 200 individual medley.

Ava Howard won the 100 backstroke with Abby Kunze in second and Asia Neuman took top honors in the 50 free with Howard second. Neuman placed second in the 100 fly.

Diver Liz Click won the one-meter diving for the second year in a row as the Ponies look like a formidable team going to state on Nov. 18-20 at the University of Minnesota.

 

In the huddle

It’s a good thing the Vikings led by CP and AP held on to beat the Washington Redskins 34-27 or LF might be looking for a job after calling two timeouts that benefitted Washington in the closing seconds of the game…. I almost wore out my remote keeping track of the Vikings victory, Baylor’s 41-12 win over Oklahoma and Stanford’s 26-20 halting of Oregon on Thursday, Nov. 7. That was a five-star night of grid fare…. Stillwater’s “bumerooski play” that worked to perfection when the Ponies defeated Burnsville 36-33 in the 1984 football state championship game will be featured on Channel 45’s (12) cable telecast of the Prep Bowl next week. The play was considered the “Best Run at the Metrodome” in its history of hosting

The infamous ”bumerooski play” that helped the Stillwater football team defeat Burnsville in the 1984 state championship game will be featured on Channel 45 during this year’s Prep Bowl telecast as the “Best Run at the Metrodome”.

The infamous ”bumerooski play” that helped the Stillwater football team defeat Burnsville in the 1984 state championship game will be featured on Channel 45 during this year’s Prep Bowl telecast as the “Best Run at the Metrodome”.

the event. Channel 45 program director Dennis Silva said the bumerooski was truly a classic. Here is the account of the play written by former Gazette sportswriter John Gillstrom: “The Ponies faced fourth-and-11 deep in their own territory when blocking back Matt Anderson took a purposely low snap and tucked it between the legs of Jim Schoenecker, who was lined up about one-and-a-half yards in front of Anderson. Anderson, right side blocking back Tim Kruse and punter Chris Gipson then faked a run to the right, leaving Schoenecker alone with the ball on the left side. He raced down to the Burnsville 19. Ken Dahlin quickly capped the 10-play, 80-yard scoring drive with a 12-yard run.” Gophers coach at the time Lou Holtz was the only one who spotted it and I thought if it didn’t work somebody would probably shoot me…. Aliza Deming has been named MVP by the girls’ tennis team that enjoyed a 12-4 season this fall. Deming led Hannah Quinn, Savannah Johnson, Shelby Anderson and Jenna Sherrick in earning All-SEC honors. Quinn also received the Chuck Anderson Scholarship Award. Johnson, Amanda Williams, Lexie Sherrick and Remi Larson will captain next year’s team…. Former Ponies ace hockey player Cassandra Salmen is larger than life in Wisconsin. The senior forward appears on a billboard promoting UW-Stevens Point hockey. Salmen led

Stillwater graduate Cassandra Salmen is featured on a billboard in Stevens Point, Wis., promoting the Pointers’ hockey programs.

Stillwater graduate Cassandra Salmen is featured on a billboard in Stevens Point, Wis., promoting the Pointers’ hockey programs.

the Pointers with 12 goals and 20 points a year ago. Salmen, who was a member of Stillwater’s state championship teams in 2007 and 2009, entered this season having played in all 78 games for the for the Pointers the past three years…. My beloved NDSU Bison football team is 9-0 after beating Illinois State 28-10 on Saturday. The two-time defending  FCS National Champions are currently ranked numero uno…. Speaking of the Bison, it was good to see friend Gus Bradley get his first win as head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, a 29-27 contest over Tennessee on Sunday. Bradley played for and was an assistant coach at NDSU. He is a stand-up young man who has worked hard to get that first NFL win…. Only one who attempts the absurd can achieve the impossible…. finis

 

Today’s rumination #642

Don’t put others in their place when you’re angry — put yourself in their place.

• • • •

George Thole retired as head football coach at Stillwater after the 1999 season. He ranks among Minnesota’s top coaches in history with a 285-69-2 record (.805 winning percentage), including four state titles and two state runner-up finishes among 22 championship seasons. He co-authored (with Jerry Foley) “Coaching the Veer Offense,” second edition. His column appears Fridays in the Gazette. To contact the hall of fame coach e-mail: georgethole@gmail.com

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