The Becker football team’s foray into the Granite Ridge Conference so far has included three games that were long over by the time the fourth quarter started.
That should change at 7 p.m. Friday when the Bulldogs are host to Zimmerman at Eppard Field.
It’s one of the top matchups in the state Friday and certainly the best in the Granite Ridge. Both teams are 3-0.
Becker, new to the conference, is ranked fifth in the state in Class 5A. Zimmerman, the defending Granite Ridge champion, is tied for ninth in the same poll by The Associated Press.
“We’re excited about playing the Granite Ridge Conference defending champs,” Lundeen said. “If we have any chance of being the conference champion this year, this is one of the teams we have to beat.”
Becker left the Mississippi 8 after the last school year for the Granite Ridge. The Bulldogs’ first three conference games have produced 61-6, 46-7 and 38-0 wins over Milaca, Foley and Little Falls, respectively.
Zimmerman has beaten Albany 37-22, Milaca 55-14 and Princeton 25-21. The Thunder look like the toughest team Becker has faced.
“So far, I’d say so,” Lundeen said. “It’s been a nice progression for us. Each week has been a little tougher and everyone has played a little better.”
Becker’s offense has been impressive. Senior quarterback Tommy Benson, grandson of St. John’s University head coach John Gagliardi, has completed 76.3 percent of his passes (45 of 59) for 696 yards, 14 touchdowns and one interception.
His favorite targets have been Joel Hopkins (22 receptions, 214 yards, 4 TDs) and Brett Watercott (16 receptions, 333 yards, 7 TDs).
Meanwhile, the running game has picked up. Austin Soare (40 rushes, 232 yards, 2 TDs) and Eric Dudek (42 rushes, 160 yards, 1 TD) are starting to pile up yards as the offensive line has developed.
Lundeen said his team’s defense has impressed.
“I think our defense is getting better,” said Lundeen, whose squad has allowed 13 points in three games. “We don’t have a lot of stars on that side of the ball, but we’re playing well as a unit.
“We play a lot of kids on that side of the ball and using a lot of kids is a big part of our program. Philosophically, we believe that the more kids we have out there, the better our chances.
“Giving a lot of kids opportunities to play is what it’s all about.”
Lundeen said the Bulldogs have rotated 18 players in the 11 defensive positions so far.
Zimmerman runs a similiar offense to Becker’s, though the Thunder use the veer option more than the Bulldogs do under head coach Tom Kish. The school first opened in 2003.
“I like him and their program a lot,” Lundeen said. “They’ve done things the right way and I’m happy for the success they’ve had.”
Lundeen pronounced his team in good shape physically, with no notable injuries.
“Hopefully, we’ll have all the bullets ready for Friday,” he said.
* Sauk Centre senior running back Roosevelt Austin, recovering from a left knee injury suffered during the state wrestling tournament, tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and will miss the rest of the football season, according to Mainstreeters head coach Charlie Warring.
Austin, who was being recruited by a number of Division II and college subdivision schools, was the area’s leading rusher heading into Friday’s game at Morris that the Mainstreeters lost 41-8.
Austin hurt the knee in week two’s 39-6 win over Montevideo, had an MRI last Thursday and Warring and the team found out the news Friday morning.
There is no time set for surgery, according to Warring.
Sauk Centre plays at 7 p.m. Friday at Olivia against BOLD. BOLD is 3-0 and ranked third in last week’s state Class 2A poll by The Associated Press.
* St. Cloud Apollo sophomore quarterback Ben Alvord is also out with an ankle sprain suffered in Friday’s 35-18 loss to Rocori. He was replaced by Cooper Lynch, who is expected to start at 3 p.m. Saturday in Alexandria when the Eagles play in the Cardinals’ homecoming game. Alvord is week to week.
Hall of fame
Sauk Rapids is having its first high school hall of fame induction class. The inductees will be honored Friday, Oct. 5 during halftime ceremonies of the Storm’s homecoming game with St. Cloud Apollo.
Inductees include Margie Ackerman, Bob Hegman, boosters Laura and Clarence Koep, Dana O’Brien, Dave Pflepsen and Rip Repulski.
Hall of fame activities continue Saturday, Oct. 6. There is a luncheon and an introduction of the hall of fame members starting at 10:15 a.m. Tickets cost $12 in advance and $15 at the door.
At 1 p.m., there is a hall of fame golf outing.
The cost is $70 for individuals and $280 for teams. The tee-off is 1 p.m. It’s an 18-hole, four-person scramble with prizes and awards at a social/dinner at 5 p.m. Contact the Sauk Rapids activities office at 258-1781 for more information.
Little Falls is having its 2012 Tackle Cancer Night on Friday night when the Flyers are host to the Princeton Tigers in a Granite Ridge Conference football game.
Donations will be taken before the game and at halftime. Fans are encouraged to wear pink.
All proceeds to go the Randy Shaver Cancer Research Fund. Shaver works for KARE-TV Channel 11.
Sartell players wore pink Friday in the Sabres’ win over Sauk Rapids. Albany also had its cancer awareness activities in last Friday’s win over St. Cloud Cathedral. Students were allowed to tackle tackling dummies at halftime for $1 a pop.
* Long Prairie-Grey Eagle’s Bruce Thompson is one of four new inductees into the Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. Joining the long-time Thunder coach into this fall’s induction are Bethlehem Academy’s Franz Boelter, St. Paul Highland Park’s Ron Causton and Simley’s Don Roberts.
The hall of fame luncheon is noon Sunday, Oct. 28, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Minneapolis.
Young has been a coach for 33 years, including 20 at Long Prairie-Grey Eagle. His career began in 1972 at Bellingham. He has guided teams to seven conference titles and led Long Prairie-Grey Eagle to state tournaments in 1991, ’98, ’99, 2001 and ’02, including a second-place finish in ’98.
After being away from the boys’ program for seven years, including one season as the Thunder’s head girls basketball coach, he again took over the program in 2009 and remains the head coach. He has a career record of 506-282.
* Little Falls’ Grant Bell is off to a good start on his soccer career at Division I Bradley University. Bell already is in the rotation as a defender for the Braves, who are 4-2-2. The two-time Times’ player of the year has played 451 minutes in eight games and has been named to all-tournament teams.
* The Holdingford girls have moved up to ninth in the state Class A coaches association cross country rankings.
St. Cloud Cathedral remains No. 1 in the girls’ poll.
St. Cloud Christian’s McKenzie Holt is No. 5 in the state and Cathedral’s Rachel Eickhoff is No. 8.
* In the boys’ Class A cross country rankings, Cathedral is No. 2. Foley’s Charlie Lawrence is the top ranked individual. Cathedral’s Nikc Golebiowski is ranked fourth.
* Eden Valley-Watkins senior volleyball player Kaylee Forcier and Rockford senior football player Joe Hefferman were named the Central Minnesota Conference athletes of the week.
Forcier, a middle hitter, had four ace blocks, 34 digs and 35 kills to lead the Eagles.
Heffmeran, a center and defensive tackle, had five tackles, one sack, two assisted sacks and one forced fumble.