2022 Week 13 (Minnesota)

2022 Week 13 (Minnesota)

Minnesota was the second half of a two week trip to the Upper Midwest. This was the second straight year, and third overall, where I’ve had an Iowa-Minnesota trip planned. After taking a few days respite in Sioux City, Wednesday was a quick drive northeast to Minneapolis. Leaving Sioux City, we stopped at Casey’s on the south side of the city for the cheaper gas. And then followed US75 northeast around the bypass. In La Mars, I followed the major highway as it changed from US75 to IA60 past Sheldon and into Worthington, Minnesota.

I stopped at my first Kwik Trip of the trek. Had to get the Garlic Parmasean Chicken Bites. Also, due to the downward temps, my tires were all reading 34-36psi and not the 38+ they’re supposed to be. Between the cold and the wind, the mileage hasn’t been great. Not bad, mind you. Just not great. From Worthington, it was continuing on MN60 east from town across I-90 through Windom and passing through the valley of the Minnesota River to Mankato. From there, the same road continued as US169 northeast through more surface streets of towns like St. Peters. Which feels like a hallmark movie downtown.

Getting into Shakopee, I stopped at a Culver’s for dinner. Wanted something else, but also wanted something quick. A mushroom and swiss along with some custard sounded good. And then I saw this:

In retrospect, it was a mistake. With a single burger patty, this is just an overly cheesed burger. And definitely not worth the cost or taste. A novelty if nothing else. The La Quinta southwest of town was my stay for the next four days.

The next morning, it was a quick drive up MN100 to I-394 and east into town. It’s cool how after the freeway crosses I-94 it basically turns into exits to three parking garages. Ramp A and B (Ramp being the Minnesota nomenclature for parking garage) is technically also exits to downtown, while Ramp C takes you under Target Field, and exits onto 4th St. Which you have to turn right and left to get in line eastbound to the stadium.

Parking just before the stadium, I prepaid online for parking, though the parking gate didn’t register the QR code. But we got in, so I didn’t mind.

In Minnesota, all state semifinals are held at US Bank Stadium. Just as Iowa does with the UNI-Dome. On Thursday is four games, while Friday and Saturday are five-game affairs. For Thursday, I wasn’t covering any of the games, so the ticket cost was $14 for the all-day pass. And if interested, Minnesota allows exit and reentry on the same ticket.

#73 – Mountain Iron-Buhl v. Wheaton/Herman-Norcross

The first two games of the day were 9-man semifinals. Mountain Iron-Buhl was a team I had hoped to see last season. From 198 miles north of Minneapolis, Mountain Iron is a small town located along US169 near the major junction city, and mining town, of Virginia. Wheaton, the host of the co-op is 185 miles west of Minneapolis. I had planned to see them in the first Friday game at Fargo but had to pass on it due to personal reasons. Wheaton is located just 7 miles from South Dakota, just south of the tri-state corner of North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota.

Both of these teams were new for me. And the Rangers of Mountain Iron-Buhl were a marquee team for me to see. MIB, as they’re referenced, had an 8-6 first quarter lead, before trailing 15-14 at the half. And again leading 22-15 after three. That close game, though, blew open in the fourth, with Mountain Iron-Buhl up 36-15 at the final whistle.

Minnesota doesn’t wait around, as the second game was starting just 20 minutes later.

#74 – Fertile-Beltrami v. Spring Grove

This was the fourth time I’ve seen Fertile-Beltrami. The Falcons hail from the two town consolidation from Fertile, south of East Grand Forks. A small town I’ve been to, and are on my list for games some day in the future. I’ve seen them at the Fargodome twice, and last year at US Bank Stadium in the semifinal. This was the Spring Grove Lions’ first time I’ve seen them. Up to my 1,481st different team.

Spring Grove jumped out to a quick 14-6 lead after one. And then held it going into the fourth. And added two more scores to win comfortably, 27-6.

The third game on the day was the 4A semifinal between Rocori and Simley. Simley from Inver Grove Heights, just southeast of the Twin Cities. While Rocori is from Cold Spring, northwest of the city by some distance.

#75 – Cold Spring Rocori v. Inver Grove Heights Simley

After a scoreless first quarter, Rocori jumped out to a 16-14 halftime lead. And held it until the fourth quarter. Where with 5:22 left, Simley kicked a 33 yard FG that would be enough for the 17-16 victory.

During the time between gaes on Thursday, I did go down to the lower level to get a bratwurst and a gatorade. The price was ridiculous and unlike last year, the bratwurst was a waste of money. Instead of fresh, they were premade, wrapped and left under a heat lamp. I did, near the third game, get an actual smoothie made with mango and banana. It was fresh made, and great. But at $18 was a ridiculous cost.

For the last game, it was two teams I’ve seen previously. Maple Grove and Lakeville South. Both are MSP suburban schools. Lakeville being south-southeast of Minneapolis.

#76 – Maple Grove v. Lakeville South

This was a close game. But it had it’s boring moments. Maple Grove jumped out to a 14-7 halftime lead. They’d hold it the entire second half, heading to the finals with a 14-7 victory.

After the game, it was back to the ramp to head back to the hotel. Because of the venue, I couldn’t bring in my zoom lens. And my backup lense was indisposed of. And the lense I did have was my 18-55mm 2.8 lens, which had some technical issues. So, I was mostly watching the games and enjoying the day.

The next morning I stopped for breakfast at the hotel. They had eggs and sausage. But the waffle station was overrun with guests. And rolls, bread, bagels, etc were a nonstarter. We were up by 8am for the first game starting at 9:30am. And the important game to cover for Magnitude Sports.

#77 – Barnesville v. Jackson County Central

So, we arrived about an hour early and made our way through the press entrance. After getting through, the liaisons seemed confused on just where media would go after entering. Which seemed strange. We were directed to the first elevator, where I was taken to Level -2, which is the field. But, the wrong end of the field. So, I had to walk through the bowels of the stadium to the east end, going through the 360 Club section where I got my brat and smoothie the day prior. And got to the field entrance from that side.

Minnesota requires all photographers to have media vests while on the field. In addition to the wrist strap, which I kept on my camera lense since it was annoying being on your wrist.

This was my fourth time seeing Barnesville. And second time this season after watching them destroy Crookston at the Fargodome.

US Bank Stadium was the sixth NFL stadium I’ve been on the field at. Which had some novelty in its own right. Previous five stadiums are Mercedes-Benz Stadium, New Era Field (now Highmark Stadium), Heinz Field (now Acrisure Stadium), FirstEnergy Stadium, and Lucas Oil Stadium.

Barnesville was dominant once again. As the first time semifinalist Jackson County Central struggled. The fourth quarter saw one more touchdown, but it was already over. Barnesville would win, 41-12.

After the game, I went upstairs to the press box and sat in a secluded area. The pressbox wasn’t too busy as most reporters stuck to the far left seats. Primarily because the pressbox was in the southeast corner of the stadium rather than closer to midfield like you find at Indianapolis.

I had my laptop, so went ahead and got the Barnesville game photos finished during the next game. No photography was allowed from the pressbox, so full stadium shots were all I cared to attempt.

#78 – Eden Valley-Watkins v. Chatfield

I’ve seen both teams previously. Chatfield just last year at the stadium. The two were tied at 6-6, and then at 12-12. But the fourth quarter Chatfield exerted their will. Tacking on two scores to win, 27-12.

#79 – Elk River v. Mahtomedi

I was going to finish up at some point and head downstairs to the seating bowl. But, instead finished up my photos from Thursday, as well. And stayed up top and just did live updates for the game. I had seen both of these teams previously. Mahtomedi is pronounced Maw-toe-mee-die. For the game, Elk River won pretty easily, but didn’t put it away. Winning just 38-21.

#80 – Zimmerman v. Hutchinson

I headed back down to the field for the fourth game of the day. Hutch, as they’re known, I had seen last year. They’re from 60 miles west of the stadium. Almost due west, just between US12 and US212, along route 7. Zimmerman is 43 miles north of the city along US169, north of Rogers and north of Elk River.

Hutchinson would slowly crush Zimmerman Thunder’s hopes. Grinding through to a 42-28 victory.

After the game, I made my way to the seating bowl. Which wasn’t as easy I thought. I had to go toward the postgame interview room, which is past the first elevator, and into the 360 club. Which was just past the room. From there, it’s into the 360 club and then back to the club elevator to the second level.

The night game had quite a crowd on the home side. As it was a big name in Minnesota High School Football.

#81 – Rosemount v. Eden Prairie

This was projected to be a good one just to watch. Eden Prairie is probably one of the most well-known names from Minnesota. Located southwest of Minneapolis, the suburb are stalwarts in high school football in the state. Eden Prairie held the record for 11 state championships. Only matched more recently by Caledonia.

Rosemount jumped out to a 7-0 lead, and held the lead at 14-7 at the half. Rosemount was up by that in the fourth when Eden Prairie had to settle for a field goal. They couldn’t score after, leading to a Rosemount 14, Eden Prairie 10, final.

After the game, the easy way out of downtown, is the I-35W ramps, that are right next to the stadium. After the first night’s issues with parking, I didn’t buy my parking pass in advance. And after the game, the gates were opened to leave without paying. So, free parking. That was nice. Got back to the hotel room and had one more day of football remaining. At least Saturday wasn’t going to be the early game to cover.

The next morning, I made better use of the free breakfast at the hotel. After all, the press box only had popcorn and water for the media. And I’m told that is a common setup in Minnesota. Though I did find, walking the bowels of the stadium between levels, that there was a dining room setup for MSHSL officials. But just not for media covering the games.

We drove back into the town the same way. Which is a bit convoluted leaving the hotel. Because of the way the ramps and exit lanes are situated, you actually enter and exit the hotel from different routes. Luckily, this day went a little easier. Got back onto the MN100 to the I-394 into town. And followed the 4th St N exit through a desolate and frigid downtown. The skyway access around the city makes sidewalk pedestrians near nonexistent. And Saturday meant the cars were also quite unlikely.

Got back to the underground garage we had used the past two days and as well as last year, and got in without the parking pass. Just getting the ticket stub from the machine on arrival. Walked back to the media entrance, and got in much easier Saturday. Even though my first game was starting at 2pm and we were there at 9am. Instead of waiting out the first two games in the seating bowl, I headed up to the press box and finished processing photos from the prevous night’s Hutchinson-Zimmerman game.

#82 – Deer River v. Springfield

I setup shop in the same spot, and got to photos while watching this one. Deer River and Springfield were both new teams for me. And it started as a very entertaining game. The back-and-forth started early, but got heated near the half. As Springfield took a 40-24 halftime lead. But only three more touchdowns the rest of the way. Both teams tried to slow down their games, as the blistering fast pace was unable to sustain them. They also both knew a track meet was going to go awry for one of them, if they let it. Instead, though, Springfield stayed just a step ahead. Winning, 54-30.

This game was my first with consistent, regular updates of the game. And I did a small write-up for Magnitude Sports, that I also posted to twitter:

I was done with photos by the start of the second game. So, had some free time to catch up with what was going on around the country. And Minneota was my favorite team in Minnesota. And yes, that was spelled right.

#83 – Minneota v. Fillmore Central

Minneota is my favorite Minnesota team because, well, I’ve seen them now 5 times. Also, I love the word play. Minneota is one letter short of the state’s name. And they’re also the Minneota Vikings. I’ve been through Minneota many times, as it’s near Marshall. A major city in southwestern Minnesota. And they’re high on my bucket list for a game some day.

This was such a great game. Minneota held the lead for most of the game, but Fillmore Central made a great run at the end. A late TD would cut the lead to 28-27, and they’d go for two. But, the try would fail. And then, Fillmore Central would get the ball back. A 4th and 3 pass would go for a long play on a hook and lateral. Down to the 18. First down would go incomplete in the endzone. A sack, and a spike would setup 4th down with 2 seconds left. And a pass into the endzone would go incomplete. Overthrowing everyone.

I wrote a very quick recap, that I had finished mostly before the final two drives. That needed a quick rewrite.

After the game, I headed downstairs for the DGF game I was covering for Magnitude Sports as the sideline photographer.

#84 – Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton v. Fairmont

DGF, as they’re generally known, are a defensive and ball control team. The mid-sized school just east of Moorhead, Minnesota that I had seen two weeks earlier in Fargo, stayed scoreless through the first quarter. Their proficiency at ball control was pinacled by holding the ball for the entire quarter.

Starting with the kickoff, a long drive ended on 4th down. And then, their second drive resulted in points. With a 14 yard TD run. However, Fairmont would answer, and tie the game at 7-7 on the next possession. But that’s all they’d get. DGF’s smothering defense and grinding, clock eating offense gave them the fourth quarter lead on a field goal. After a quick turnover, DGF scored again, though missing the PAT, to win, 16-7.

After the game, I headed back upstairs to process the DGF photos, and watch the Watertown-Mayer v. New London-Spicer matchup.

#85 – Watertown-Mayer v. New London-Spicer

I had seen New London-Spicer previously. However, this was my first time seeing Watertown-Mayer. An interesting fact about this school. They’re a consolidation between the two towns. Interestingly, there is Mayer Lutheran, which is located in the town of Mayer, at the high school, and has been opened since 1960.

Watertown-Mayer started with some emphasis, tying New London-Spicer, 7-7 in the first quarter, but NLS started to run away with it. A 19-7 deficit at the half put them in a bind. Third quarter was a struggle, as Watertown-Mayer scored to make it, 19-14. The second half, was a score by NLS to take a 27-14 lead thanks to a 17 yard TD pass. But Watertown-Mayer answered with a 25 yard run. NLS scored in the 4th quarter, 30 yard td pass, to go up 33-21 with 4:45 left. Watertown-Mayer went down the field for a 32 yard pass to cut it to 33-28, but that’s as close as they’d get. Losing by that score.

It took until the end of the game to get my photos of the DGF game finished. So, I stayed upstairs and filled up on all the free ice water I could. After all the popcorn had been claimed and no more was made. So, only one game left on the ledger for the weekend.

#86 – Rogers v. Mankato West

I wasn’t sure whether I’d stay upstairs for the game, head down to the seating bowl, or down to the field. Since I missed kickoff, I figured I’d just stay upstairs. But, with the weekend winding down, I decided to head down to the field for the final game of the week.

Rogers-Mankato West is a rematch of last year’s final game of the Minnesota weekend. And I had seen both of them now three times. The game started with Mankato West opening the game with an 80 yard drive to go up 7-0. Rogers answered, with a 21 yard pass. And added a field goal to go up 10-7 at the half.

Down on the field, Mankato West went with an 11 yard TD run to reclaim the lead, 14-10. Later in the game, Rogers went down the field and threw an interception into the endzone on 3rd down. First play by Mankato West, a fumble on a running play ended with Rogers possessing the ball at the 17. A 4th down was converted, setting up 1st and goal. On 4th and goal from the 4, a run was short of the goal line with just 1:20 left. Mankato West then ran the clock out, pushing up the middle on each play and avoiding a Josh Allen fumble to win, 14-10.

After the game, it was back to the hotel with a detour for a late dinner. I had nothing to eat other than one small plate of popcorn and ice water. There wasn’t a lot to choose from between the stadium and the hotel. I just wanted fast food. There was a few pizza shops open, and taco bell. But finding a Wendy’s or McDonald’s wasn’t easy. The Wendy’s that was open notified through the speaker that the store was closed due to short staff. So, it was the long line at McDonald’s. And then back to the hotel. Got everything situated to check out in the morning. And called it a night.

Sunday morning, it was up around 9am, to make the drive home. The Browns-Bills game had been relocated from Buffalo to Detroit, and I followed it while I drove. I wasn’t exactly happy about the outcome.

My first stop was Menomonee, Wisconsin for gas at a Kwik Trip. For those unfamiliar with Kwik Trip, it’s like a grocery store mixed with a gas station. They had 5lb bags of potatoes for 99 cents. So, with Thanksgiving coming up, I bought two. And a thing of the Garlic Parmasean chicken bites.

From there, it was a long drive through I-94 and I-90 into Illinois. With just a stop in Madison once more for gas. Following the Illinois Tollway to I-290 and followed that into Chicago to shunpike the I-294 Tri-State Tollway. There was some construction through downtown where you enter the Dan Ryan. And then following I-94 into Indiana.

From there, was a quick drive south on IN49 to US30, and shunpike the Toll Road around Fort Wayne and into Ohio. And then, near Findlay, cutting south to US33 near the highest point in Ohio near Bellfontaine, and followed that freeway into Columbus. Dropping off my friend, and then heading out to home. Just another three hours further. Getting in around 4:20am.


2022 HSF Wk 13 Minnesota

2022 HSF Wk 13 Minnesota

2022 HSF Wk 13 Minnesota

2022 HSF Wk 13 Minnesota

2022 HSF Wk 13 Minnesota

2022 HSF Wk 13 Minnesota

2022 HSF Wk 13 Minnesota

2022 HSF Wk 13 Minnesota

2022 HSF Wk 13 Minnesota

2022 HSF Wk 13 Minnesota

2022 HSF Wk 13 Minnesota

2022 HSF Wk 13 Minnesota

2022 HSF Wk 13 Minnesota

2022 HSF Wk 13 MInnesota

2022 HSF Wk 13 MInnesota


For the entire two-week trip to Iowa and Minnesota, I drove 2,762 miles. Costing me a total of $1,317.86. Because it was split with a friend, gas was only $157.17. Food was $428.81. Tickets and game miscellaneous expenses were $112. Most of that the $50 for tickets at Iowa, and the parking at Minnesota. Hotels were $385.88. And Miscellaneous trip expenses was $244. Which was entirely the cost of the eye clinic and the prescriptions. Which I count. Since, had I been home it would’ve been a network visit for much less. But, you live and learn. And my eye is okay, now.

I saw 11 new teams in Minnesota: Mountain Iron-Buhl, Wheaton/Herman-Norcross, Spring Grove, Cold Spring Rocori, Jackson County Central, Zimmerman, Deer River, Springfield, Harmony Fillmore Central, Fairmont, and Watertown-Mayer.

I’ve been to 61 games in Minnesota. All of them in Minneapolis. 42 of them at US Bank Stadium. Having seen three state semifinal weekends. The other 19 were 12 state semifinals at the Metrodome. And 7 state finals at TCF Bank Stadium while the new US Bank Stadium was being built on site where the old Metrodome stood.

Next Week

Since this is already quite late, next week will be the four WPIAL Finals at Acrisure Stadium in Pittsburgh. No plans for Saturday games. My daughter and I had plans for that day. Though they’d change. I didn’t take up any games.

The week after the WPIAL finals, my plans are entirely open. It’s Thursday morning, December 1st, and I still don’t know what games I’ll be at. If any. My week is that hectic.

But, I’m gearing up for the PIAA Finals and hopefully a return trip to Texas. Though that’s starting to look unlikely. If I do, it won’t be for all 12 games. Maybe just the six on Friday and Saturday. Maybe I’ll go to Florida. Who knows.

2022 Statistics

86 Games
167 Teams
35 Stadiums
14 States

92 New Teams
23 New Stadiums

1,489 different teams
466 different stadiums

1,359 total games

For more, and larger, photos from this weekend, click HERE.

For photos from previous weeks and seasons, visit http://www.flickr.com/sykotyk/sets/

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