Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Jaguars Football Season Opener -- New Opponent on the Schedule

I confirmed with Coach Richards that the non-conference season-opener opponent for the Jaguars football team will be the West Central Area Knights, out of Barrett, MN. The town of Barrett (population 350) is roughly a 30-minute drive west of Alexandria. West Central Area is a Class AA school in football (just barely, though), and is a consolidated district comprised of the towns of Kensington, Hoffman, Barrett, Elbow Lake, and Wendell. Coach Richards wasn't sure, but he thought as of now it's just a 1-year contract. Sometimes they're 2-year deals, with each team traveling once to the opponents' house. In any case, I'm all smiles over this, as it beats some of the alternatives of many-hour drives for football's season opener.

The WCA Knights provided stiff opposition from the falls of 1994 to 1996 for the Jaguars, and they won handily in all but one game (the '96 game at Barrett). During those years, they were a member of the West Central South Conference, with B-B-E.

In 2006, the Knights hammered the Class AA Mahnomen Indians 38-13 in the season opener, a road trip up to Mahnomen. They finished the regular season 7-1, including 6-1 (first place tie with Pelican Rapids) in the Heart O' Lakes conference

The Heart O' Lakes conference is tough as nails, though not quite as tough as the Central Minnesota Conference. It has numerous fine football programs such as Pelican Rapids, Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton (alma-mater of Coach Richards' wife Carrie), and Roseau.

WCA finished the 2006 season 8-2, going 1-1 in the Section 6AA playoffs, in which they fell in the semi-finals to Maccray in a disappointing 25-0 shutout on the Knights' home field. The Knights played all season undersized and with little depth, and it caught up to them in the playoffs. They had an incredibly talented quarterback, which probably was a big reason they won 8 games last year.

This will be a nice trip for the Jaguars, and they will find out what they're made of in the very first game. For the Knights, this beats the pants off of what they had, a 113-mile trip every other year to Mahnomen! West Central Area has a very good football program, and I would say that they are where B-B-E wants to be, challenging for conference and section crowns year after year.

For comparison purposes, WCA has 197 kids in their top 3 grades, while B-B-E has 181 (2005-2006 numbers). They are in Class AA for the next 2 years (one of the smallest AA schools). Beating them would give the Jaguars 7 points in Section 5A, a nice way to start the season. (They picked up 6 points in last year's season-opening 38-22 win over Class A Ogilvie.)

Their football field lies below the hill from their 12-year old high school in Barrett. Folks from B-B-E can get there a couple of ways. Those on the north end around Elrosa may choose to take I-94 past Alexandria to the Barrett exit. That would be a 63-mile trip from Elrosa. Those around Belgrade/Brooten would probably just drive up Highway 55 past Glenwood. From Belgrade that would be a 54-mile trip, all on scenic Highway 55. I'd take that trip any day over going to Ortonville or Ogilvie (the non-conference opponents we've had since joining the CMC in 1999).

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