August 20, 2009 at 8:36 a.m.
Every summer, as the temperature cools and the dog days end, soccer, football, volleyball cross country and all the other traditional fall sports take off with their two-a-day practices.
This year, there will be some interesting storylines for both schools in most of their sports. Questions abound, and the only way to answer them is in the regular season.
Chisago Lakes football will finally have a permanent home after last season's traveling show while their new stadium was completed. They only played two regular season games in at the high school last year.
Will they be able to replace Andy Willhite at quarterback? If junior-to-be Jeff Sargeant's late-season performances filling in for an injured Willhite are any indication, they might not miss a beat at the most important position on the field.
Besides a few key losses along the lines in Jake Elzy, Henry Fitzpatrick and Derek Silbernagel, the Wildcats return a pretty stacked line up from the team that qualified for the section finals last year.
Just like in 2008, they'll open the season up with cross county rival North Branch, who has plenty of question marks of their own.
The Vikings will be headed by a new coach, Justin Sawyer. Sawyer is the Vikings' third head coach in as many years.
Although they only won one game last year, the Vikings took a monumental step forward after their disastrous 2007 season. They were in most of the games they played, and if not for a few mental lapses in games against Fridley and St. Francis, the Vikings would've had two more wins to their credit.
With Joe Johnson's graduation, the Vikings will turn the reins to the offense over to Anders Dahlberg, who saw a lot of playing time last year in a platoon with Johnson.
The Vikes return some key cogs to their team gears from last year, including All-Conference lineman John Morrison, and their second-leading rusher in junior-to-be Zack Smith.
It'll be a struggle to replace leading rusher Chad Anderson and massive lineman Mike Johnson, both of whom graduated and will be playing college football this year.
There are also a few interesting angles in the volleyball season. North Branch had a tough year last season, but they only graduated one senior. They will be loaded with experience and and young talent.
The Wildcats are in a different kind of a pickle. They lost a big batch of seniors, including Sam Nelson, Alex Hoyt, Mackenzie Maher, Jordan Burnett and Lisa Rosenthal, but, they return North Suburban Conference Player of the Year Courtney Fautsch and the cannon-armed Rachel Nelson, so they'll be dangerous from all angles.
The North Branch cross country team will be looking to stay on top where they've been most of the past half-decade. Although they haven't had any individual standouts go to the state tournament the past few years, they are always consistenly towards the top with all of their runners.
Chisago Lakes hasn't had the team success that North Branch has, but they sent Chelsea Johnson to the state meet last year as an individual qualifier, and they have a young phemon in Andy Magnuson who will be a threat this year.
For the full previews and stories on the upcoming season for all the sports at both North Branch and Chisago Lakes, check out our Fall Sports Preview insert in early September.
As I was doing this write up, I got a text message from ESPN. Not uncommon, since I signed up for their breaking news and scoring update texts, but this certain text had me a little giddy.
Pending a physical, Brett Favre changed his mind again, and will be the starting quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings this year. I am excited and nervous at the same time at the prospect of having a 39-year-old at the most important position on the field, much less a 39-year-old who led the league in interceptions thrown last year.
I must say, however, that regardless of how far Favre can or might take us, it's a lot farther than Tarvaris Jackson could. With one of the more talent-laden teams the past two years, the Vikings have been simply mediocre with Jackson at the helm. I know they won the NFC North division last year, but it wasn't because of Jackson, it was in spite of him.
I can't say the same about Sage Rosenfels. The guy just has never gotten a chance to be a starting quarterback and could turn out to be a pretty good gun slinger behind the line, but he's just the wrong guy at the wrong time this season.
His time may even come sooner rather than later. Mainstay tackle Bryant McKinnie has always been prone to speed rushers, and now that he is bookended with rookie Phil Loadholt, who is also a massive man and projects to have the same struggles as McKinnie, Favre could be a sitting duck on passing downs. We all know he isn't mobile, but if he gets in trouble, he is either going to get throttled by a lumbering defensive end or he is going to pull the ol' Hail Brett and just toss the ball up as high and as long as he can and hope someone in purple comes down with it.
Although it's more of a crap shoot than most people think, it's still an exciting time to be a Vikings fan. We've struggled to find a legitimate quarterback since Dante Culpepper's hey days in 2001-02.
I don't personally think that he'll lead us to a Super Bowl, like many fans do, but he will give us a much better option at behind center than Jackson or Rosenfels would've. And with the team we have now, we needed to act now, and this was just the move to enrgize the franchise and hopefully get a deep playoff push started.
This weekend, Frankie's Marine will be hosting a fishing tournament as part of Ki-Chi-Saga Days. The bass fishing tournament takes place across three lakes; Green, North Center and South Center, and the winner receives a Ranger boat valued at $25,000.
The event has been a major success in the past and the prizes and 100 percent payout keep the anglers coming back each year.
The event will feature a BBQ, Ranger Simulator, street dance, drive through weigh-in, Full Throttle trailer, Minnkota slide and a trout tank.
There will also be a kids fishing tournament on Saturday where there will be prizes given away to particpants. The event is limited to only 52 kids only, however, and registration began on August 17.
If fishing isn't exactly your thing, there is plenty of fun to be had at Ki-Chi-Saga Days.
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