An exciting end to Big 9 football is in store

Published 9:32am Monday, October 8, 2012

Column: Aaron Worm, Behind the Mic

It isn’t July, but there were definitely some fireworks Friday night in Mankato. The Tiger offense scored the last 24 points of the game and beat Mankato East 46-28.

Aaron Worm

Anyone who was at the game knows it felt like late October or early November weather, but the cold didn’t slow down the offense.

Senior Derek Burkard, who had one touchdown pass coming into the game, threw five touchdown strikes, and the trio of Dylan See-Rockers, Makael Lunning and Cody Scherff each had two touchdown receptions. Abben also threw a touchdown pass. After a tough Homecoming loss, it was enjoyable for players, coaches, fans and us in the media, to watch the offense use the big play to put the ball in the end zone seven times.

Next up for Albert Lea is Faribault, who some Big Nine Conference coaches had told me before the season could be a sleeper team to win the conference. Faribault could have been in a spot right now to win the title, if it wasn’t for a 44-41 loss to Owatonna a couple of weeks ago, in a game where the Falcons led by 34 in the first half.

Now, Faribault did lose to Mankato West this season, but because the Scarlets had to forfeit four wins because of an ineligible player, the “L” turns into a “W.”

The Falcons could be 5-0 in the Big Nine with our Tigers and Winona left on their schedule, but they find themselves a game back of Owatonna and Mayo who are both unbeaten in conference play.

The Huskies and Spartans will meet in Owatonna a week from Wednesday, which will decide the conference champ.

Owatonna has to get by Austin and Mayo by John Marshall to set up a battle of the Big Nine unbeaten in the regular season finale.

The Tigers wrap up their regular season at home a week from Wednesday in their annual rivalry game against Austin.

Usually this game has an impact on section seedings with the winner in recent memory getting a better seed than the losing team, but not this year.

With the new 7-class system, Austin jumped to Class AAAAA, while the Tigers stayed in Class AAAA and welcome Byron, Waseca and Kasson-Mantorville to their section along with previous members Faribault and Red Wing. Section seedings are based on a “QRF” rating (how it is calculated is still a mystery to me) and before Friday’s game, the Tigers sat in the sixth spot of the six teams in Section 1. If Albert Lea can win at least one of their final two games, it could elevate them to a five seed and a possible matchup with either Byron or a rematch with a Waseca.

So it all sets up an exciting final couple weeks of regular season play in the Big Nine. But forget speculation. All that matters is what happens on the gridiron for 48 minutes each Friday night (Or for next week, Wednesday night.)

 

KATE Radio Sports Director Aaron Worm’s column appears each Monday in the Tribune. He can be heard from 6 to 11 a.m. weekdays on The Breeze.