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BOYS SOCCER / SECTION 7A / CHISAGO LAKES 3, DULUTH MARSHALL 1 Mark Leigh decided to retire as Chisago Lakes boys soccer coach prior to his 16th season on the bench. Turning 65 meant the coach could turn over duties to his younger assistant coaches. But Leigh wanted just one thing before retirement: a Section 7A title. Four previous times Leigh's teams reached a section final only to be denied. But on Thursday at Public Schools Stadium, his players gave him a great parting gift.
Duluth East spent the final 20 minutes of Monday’s practice working on a new free kick. So after a scoreless 28-plus minutes during Tuesday night’s Section 7AA high school boys soccer final, the Greyhounds put their latest pet project to use. Instead of Nolan Friday using his powerful left foot to send the ball into the penalty area from 30 yards out, the senior midfielder stepped over the ball and ran down the left wing as Seth Hoffman slipped him the pass.
MINNEAPOLIS — In the NFL, often times a team is only as good as its backup quarterback. The Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings each found that out Sunday. The Packers lost Aaron Rodgers to a broken collarbone and subsequently lost 23-10 to the Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. Odds are the Packers' game plan didn't revolve around Brett Hundley taking snaps behind center. Vikings fans can relate. Ever since Teddy Bridgewater shredded a knee and Sam Bradford tweaked his, fans have endured the likes of Shaun Hill and Case Keenum filling in.
No harsh fouls or yellow cards resulted when Duluth East’s Nolan Friday and Duluth Marshall’s Connor Friday matched up on the field two weeks ago. The cousins have too much respect for each other and for the game of soccer to be that chippy.
My first memory of the NFL was a meaningless Minnesota Vikings-San Francisco 49ers game in December 1972. Basically all I remember is Fran Tarkenton constantly scrambling around and my being confused about how Gene Washington could play receiver for both teams. By the 1973 season opener, when O.J. Simpson ran for a record 250 yards, I was hooked. When the Vikings lost the Super Bowl three of the next four seasons, I bled purple.
Like their hockey brethren, soccer goalkeepers are a different breed. Whether it’s diving to stop a shootout attempt from 12 yards away or punching away corner kicks in between the lunging heads of opposing players, goalies can’t be afraid of physical challenges. Perhaps that’s why Duluth East senior Anna Mayer is so good at it.
Monday morning quarterbacks weren’t needed to complain about the Minnesota Vikings’ Week 2 performance in a 26-9 loss to Pittsburgh. There were enough Sunday afternoon quarterbacks on social media to pick apart Case Keenum’s debut in purple. While there was plenty of blame to go around, Keenum’s mediocre showing put on full display the disparity most teams have between their starting and backup QBs.
Terrible teams are nothing new to the NFL. Whether it was the 'Aints in 1980, the winless Lions in 2008 or the Browns last season, the league has had its share of awful clubs. Even the Cowboys, Patriots and Colts were miserable before they grew into Super Bowl winners with the help of Hall of Fame quarterbacks. Based on their Week 1 performances, there could be a bevy of franchises vying for the No. 1 draft pick next year and forcing their fans to don paper bags to games. Apparently some teams didn't get the memo that the preseason was over.
NFL drafts often can't accurately be judged until years later, but Minnesota Vikings fans should be able to judge the team's 2017 draft fairly early. That's because three of the Vikings' first four draft choices are expected to start Monday night's season opener against New Orleans. Running back Dalvin Cook, center Pat Elflein and linebacker Ben Gedeon are penciled in to start against the Saints at U.S. Bank Stadium.
MINNEAPOLIS — If NFL fullbacks hadn't gone the way of plaid pants and public telephones, C.J. Ham would be feeling pretty good about his chances of making the Minnesota Vikings' opening-day roster. Ham, the 2011 Duluth Denfeld graduate, is the only fullback listed on the team's roster. That's usually good job security if you are an IT specialist or a garbage man, but when you are the only person at a position rarely used anymore in the NFL, it means you're constantly on the chopping block.