St. Thomas Academy
The middle of January is a great time of year for the winter high school sports season. You’re in the meat and potatoes of the conference season around the state, which means there are great games on a nightly basis.
The football season is over and the trophies for seven state champions are now resting quietly in their school’s cases. We’re now transitioning to winter, which means a move to basketball courts, hockey arenas and wrestling mats.
It’s playoff time in high school football in Minnesota. That means we’re in the heart of the fall, and every time a team takes the field the season is on the line. Athletes and teams hit the practice field in August and do the two-a-day practices for what starts now. It’s a chance to have an opportunity to play for a spot in the state tournament.
There’s a huge match-up west of the Twin Cities Friday night that has Wright County Conference title implications later this year as Orono hosts Hutchinson. Both teams are unbeaten at 3-0, and the Spartans are ranked No. 5 in Class 4A, while the Tigers are the top-ranked team and the defending state champions.
High school football players generally have a tough time sleeping the night before a season opener. This week, everybody takes the field as there are nearly 200 games between Thursday and Friday night.
St. Thomas Academy’s headmaster, Matt Mohs, said the reason for the student’s collapse at Friday night football practice appears to be unrelated to football. The high school sophomore collapsed as the team was stretching at the end of a light practice.
A high school football player who collapsed at practice Friday night is still in the hospital with signs showing that the player will recover. Matthew Mohs, the headmaster at St. Thomas Academy, said the student is responsive, talking some and progressing beyond what the doctors had thought.
From a weather standpoint, the high school baseball season in Minnesota doesn’t feel like it’s underway until probably the end of May. From a calendar standpoint, the regular season is over by the end of May and teams are battling through section brackets to determine the state tournament teams.
It’s the coldest time of the year to be outside as we’re often stuck in subzero temperatures and painfully freezing wind chills. As cold as it is outside, things are heating up in high school gyms and hockey rinks all over the state. We are in the grind of the conference season all across Minnesota.
Friday and Saturday marks the semifinal round for sections in all seven classes around Minnesota. It means teams are one win away from playing for a trip to the state playoffs. It’s what every player who puts on pads in August dreams about.
It’s hard to believe the final week of the regular season is here, but that means it won’t be long before some players are handing over their pads after season-ending losses. This is the last chance for many teams to gain some momentum before the start of the postseason. It’s also a week where some teams can clinch a conference championship.
A hall at St. Thomas Academy now boasts the name of world famous author who’s an alumni of the Mendota Heights high school. Vincent J. Flynn Hall was dedicated on Friday, as he helped chair a campaign to build the new facility before dying of cancer earlier this year at the age of 47.
A warm (and windy) Friday night was the perfect occasion for high school football. And just in case you missed out on any big plays, we’ve got them for you in the videos below, as well as a profile on Nick Leach, our ASPIRE athlete of the week.
There’s always that one week in the football season that means a little more than all the rest. You’ve put in the practice time, you’ve been in the weight room and you’ve watched the film. It’s time to go out under the lights and get that big victory.
Jack Zahr came to St. Thomas Academy out of college 36 years ago and ascended to the job of athletic director. Eleven days ago, a massive stroke left the 58-year-old in hospice care. The school’s leader died on Tuesday night, leaving an institution in shock, and a legacy not soon forgotten.