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Fairmont, Blue Earth Area, Martin County West to host football playoff openers

PREPPING FOR PLAYOFFS — Fairmont defensive end Hank Artz (85) drags down a Worthington runner behind the line of scrimmage during regular-season football action at Mahoney Field in Fairmont. Cardinals’ nose guard Tyson Kube (28) assists on the play. Fairmont earned the No. 1 seed in Section 3AAA and earned a first-round bye. (Photo by Greg Abel)

FAIRMONT — Quarterback Adam Schavey and Blue Earth Area “mudded” their way to a 42-13 triumph over previously-unbeaten Fairmont to reclaim the Little Brown Jug after a six-year absence — the last two due to not being on each other’s schedules.

Quarterback Ethan Weisbrod threw for 95 yards and two touchdowns, while teammate Hunter Grathwohl recovered a fumble for a score to complement making an interception to power Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman to a 26-16 victory over Houston.

Ayden Horner kept his balance in the mud to rush for 271 yards and four TDs, while Alex Schuh recorded 7 1/2 tackles to guide Tracy-Milroy-Balaton to a 29-14 win over Martin County West.

Ironically, after the rain, lightning and wind stopped Wednesday night, the final pairings for next week’s Minnesota high school football playoffs did not change much in the QRF rankings from Week 7.

Despite the 29-point loss, Fairmont retained the No. 1 spot and a first-round bye in the seven-team Section 3AAA postseason bracket.

“By earning the No. 1 seed, we now have ample time to get rested up and healed up,” said Fairmont head coach Mat Mahoney. “Due to our bye on Tuesday, we’re not practicing until Monday.

“We need to give our boys a break from the game and us (coaching staff),” Mahoney said with a chuckle.

Top-seeded Fairmont (7-1) will open sectional action in a 7 p.m. semifinal Saturday, Oct. 30, at Mahoney Field in Fairmont against the winner between No. 5-seeded Worthington (1-7) and No. 4-seeded Luverne (3-5).

Ironically, Worthington edged New Ulm, 14-12, in Wednesday night’s regular-season finale to flip-flop spots in the postseason bracket. Worthington travels to Luverne for a 7 p.m. sectional quarterfinal clash on Tuesday night.

No. 6-seeded New Ulm (2-6) hits the road to Montgomery to square off against No. 3-seeded Tri-City United (4-4) in a 7 p.m. quarterfinal Tuesday, while No. 2-seeded Waseca (7-1) plays host to No. 7-seeded Belle Plaine (1-7).

Fairmont, which finished with an 86.2-74.7 mathematical edge over Waseca in the final QRF rankings, defeated the Bluejays 28-15 during a Week 4 showdown.

The Section 3AAA semifinals will be held at the high seeds’ fields at 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 30, while the championship will be played at 1 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 6, on the turf in Janesville.

While Blue Earth Area exited Wilson Field with the Little Brown Jug in tow, the rivalry game victory did not improve the Bucs’ stature in the Section 2AA playoff picture.

“We actually finished with more QRF (power) points than both No. 1 (seed) Blooming Prairie and No. 2 (seed) Maple River, but the playoff brackets also factor in head-to-head results and winning percentage,” said Blue Earth Area head coach Randy Kuechenmeister, whose lineup lost a 21-7 Week 7 decision to Maple River. “Don’t get me wrong, Blooming Prairie and Maple River both had excellent seasons and deserve to be where they’re at. We’re in the spot where we figured we’d be regardless of the outcome of our Little Brown Jug.”

No. 3-seeded Blue Earth Area (7-1), which netted 65.0 QRF points to Blooming Prairie’s 63.6 and Maple River’s 61.0, plays host to No. 6-seeded Waterville-Elysian-Morristown (3-5) in a 7 p.m. quarterfinal Tuesday night at Wilson Field in Blue Earth.

“We scrimmaged them (WEM) early in the year, and their program has a great tradition, so we’ll have to be ready to come out and play well,” said Kuechenmeister.

In the Bucs’ half of the Section 2AA bracket, No. 7 Le Sueur-Henderson (1-7) squares off against No. 2-seeded Maple River (7-1) in Tuesday night’s quarterfinal in Mapleton.

In the top half of the bracket, undefeated and No. 1-seeded Blooming Prairie (8-0) plays host to winless No. 8-seeded Medford (0-8), while No. 5-seeded New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva (4-4) travels to St. Clair to battle No. 4-seeded St. Clair/Mankato Loyola (6-2). Both sectional quarterfinals will kick off at 7 p.m. Tuesday night.

The Section 2AA semifinals will take place at 7 p.m. at the high seeds’ home fields Saturday, Oct. 30, while the championship hits the turf in Janesville at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 5.

In Section 3A, Tracy-Milroy-Balaton’s 15-point win over Martin County West flip-flopped those two teams in the race for the No. 3 seed.

No. 4-seeded Martin County West (5-3) kicks off the playoffs by playing host to No. 5-seeded Russell-Tyler-Ruthton (5-3) in a 7 p.m. quarterfinal Tuesday in Sherburn.

“We know RTR runs a power-I with double fullbacks, and they come right at you. Actually, they remind me of us,” said MCW head coach Tom Elliott, whose lineup unfortunately lost in the final seconds to both top-seeded Murray County Central and No. 2-seeded Springfield. “We’ve seen the top three seeds above us in person, know what they bring to the table, and we know we can compete with all of them. Now we have to go out and get the job done.”

No. 1-seeded Murray County Central (8-0) plays host to No. 8-seeded Wabasso (1-7) in a 7 p.m. quarterfinal Tuesday in Slayton in the other part of MCW’s bracket.

No. 3-seeded Tracy-Milroy-Balaton (6-2) plays host to No. 6-seeded Adrian/Ellsworth (3-5), while No. 2-seeded Springfield (6-2) plays host to No. 7 Sleepy Eye Public (2-6). Both sectional quarterfinals kick off at 7 p.m. Tuesday night.

The Section 3A semifinals take place at 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 30, at the high seeds’ gridirons, while the championship game hits the turf at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall at 2 p.m. Friday, Nov. 5.

In Section 3, 9-Man postseason action, the No. 7-seeded GHEC/Truman Jaguars (3-5) make the long trek to Hills on Tuesday night for a 7 p.m. quarterfinal against No. 2-seeded Hills-Beaver Creek (6-2).

No. 3-seeded Edgerton (4-4) plays host to No. 6-seeded Westbrook-Walnut Grove (3-5) in the sectional quarterfinal opposite of the Jaguars.

No. 1-seeded Mountain Lake Area (7-1) plays host to No. 8-seeded Madelia (0-8), while No. 4-seeded Red Rock Central (4-4) entertains No. 5-seeded Heron Lake-Okabena/Fulda (3-5) in Lamberton. Both quarterfinals kick off at 7 p.m. Tuesday night.

The Section 3, 9-Man semifinals kick off at 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 30, at the high seeds’ home field, while the championship will take place at 11:30 a.m. Friday, Nov. 5, at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall.

Section 3AAA Quarterfinals

Tuesday, Oct. 26 @ 7 p.m.

• No. 1 Fairmont (7-1) bye

• No. 5 Worthington (1-7) @ No. 4 Luverne (3-5)

• No. 6 New Ulm (2-6) vs. No. 3 Tri-City United (4-4) in Montgomery

• No. 7 Belle Plaine (1-7) @ No. 2 Waseca (7-1)

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Section 2AA Quarterfinals

Tuesday, Oct. 26 @ 7 p.m.

• No. 8 Medford (0-8) @ No. 1 Blooming Prairie (8-0)

• No. 5 New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva (4-4) vs. No. 4 St. Clair/Mankato Loyola (6-2) in St. Clair

• No. 6 Waterville-Elysian-Morristown (3-5) @ No. 3 Blue Earth Area (7-1)

• No. 7 Le Sueur-Henderson (1-7) vs. No. 2 Maple River (7-1) in Mapleton

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Section 3A Quarterfinals

Tuesday, Oct. 26 @ 7 p.m.

• No. 8 Wabasso (1-7) vs. No. 1 Murray County Central (8-0) in Slayton

• No. 5 Russell-Tyler-Ruthton (5-3) vs. No. 4 Martin County West (5-3) in Sherburn

• No. 6 Adrian/Ellsworth (3-5) vs. No. 3 Tracy-Milroy-Balaton (6-2) in Tracy

• No. 7 Sleepy Eye (2-6) @ No. 2 Springfield (6-2)

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Section 3, 9-Man Quarterfinals

Tuesday, Oct. 26 @ 7 p.m.

• No. 8 Madelia (0-8) @ No. 1 Mountain Lake Area (7-1)

• No. 5 Heron Lake-Okabena/Fulda (3-5) vs. No. 4 Red Rock Central (4-4) in Lamberton

• No. 6 Westbrook-Walnut Grove (3-5) @ No. 3 Edgerton (4-4)

• No. 7 Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman (3-5) vs. No. 2 Hills-Beaver Creek (6-2) in Hills

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