Bill Bentson: Good reads found in last week’s Bluff Country Reader

Bill Bentson
Wheelin' with WEB

I don’t think I’m giving away any secrets when I tell you that many of my ideas for items in the WEB come from sources other than myself. This week is no exception.

Mary Whalen did a great job reporting on the “lasting legacy of learning” regarding the Diamond Creek School near Whalan. Hats off to Arlen Hildested and Milton Hallum, former students, I believe, of the Diamond Creek school.

Some of the comments brought up in the article, bring back some memories, even though I didn’t attend a country school myself. “Harris Olson rode a horse to school,” wrote Whalen. My wife, Carol, attended a country school, just one mile from her home-place, 19 miles north of Watertown, S.D. She rode her horse (Trixie) up to Highway 81, a one-mile jaunt, and then sent the horse home when she went into school. After school she would walk back home, finding a special rock to kick on her trip back to the farm.

Whalen also reported that many of the students walked to school back then, bus service wasn’t available at that time. I remember hearing from some of the old-timers saying, “ya, the walk was at least ten miles, one way, and ‘uphill’ both ways.”

The Diamond Creek school burnt down in 1946, an un-expected closing for the one-room school house. Talk about inclusion! Many of the one-room attendees that I’ve talked to over the years said they learned a lot from helping the younger students with their work in a “it takes a community concept.”

I started my teaching career back in 1967 and remember that some of the older students at Kasson-Mantorville weren’t that far removed from the one-room schools themselves. When I moved out to Graceville, Minn., my office safe was loaded with student files from the students in recently consolidated country schools. Last week’s article in the Bluff Country Reader brought back some great memories. Thanks, Mary.

I’m also a “weekly Reader” of the weekly column For the Birds by Al Batt. I’m not sure I understand everything he writes and am still coming up with words to describe his content: intriguing, interesting, baffling, confusing, informative, etc. Sometimes I wonder if he should have left his “belfry?”

He wrote, “Things to look for: 1. Yellowjackets attend picnics without being invited.” WEB writes: They also win a lot of ballgames (RCTC, Perham, etc.). And, “5. Most Baltimore orioles will have left by the end of the first week of September.” WEB writes: And they won’t be making the playoffs either. I also liked the comment about the two older fellows who were in good health, thus limiting their conversation, severely. Thank goodness for disagreeable weather! Good stuff, Al!

I’m also looking forward to seeing the renovations made to the Falcon football complex

Don’t know if you’re a Star Tribune reader, but I like to check out the “big boys” and see what they’ve got to say. Metro news carries the most weight with them, understandably so!

Recently, Jim Paulsen and David LaVaque, Star Tribune staff writers, collaborated on a feature, Football A to Z: Let the season begin. They recite the alphabet, along with 26 reasons to get excited about the upcoming football season. I’ve picked a couple letters to comment on.

I’ll start with A: Announcers. And timekeepers, spotters, scoreboard operators, ticket-takers, concession-stand workers and groundskeepers. The unheralded, but not unappreciated, stadium staffers who make game nights possible.

F: Friday nights, when communities (old-timers, parents, fellow students and thrilled youngsters) come together around the local team. You don’t even have to like football to appreciate fall Fridays. But don’t forget about the other days of the week when you can also enjoy volleyball, cross country and other school activities.

H: Hamilton, Steve — the successful Elk River coach. He’s spearheading a proposal to change the playoff schedule to eliminate the need to play three games in ten days and make the first-round games more competitive. I’ve got the answer for Mr. Hamilton, and the rest of the Minnesota football world. Play section football, where Class A teams play Class A teams, AA play AA, etc., etc, etc. And then only advance four teams to the playoffs, putting the top team against the number-four team and number-two team versus number-three. That would make two nights of Section playoffs and then off to the state playoffs. There would be no trouble figuring out who is number-one in the section, because they’ve played each other. It all starts with having an even number of teams in each class. And, if you don’t, maybe you can use an out-of-state team for a few games, or play some of the teams twice, like the nine-man teams in our section did a few years ago.

There’s a reason we have six classes of 11-man football and one class of nine-man; size matters. Maybe we should even have a six-man class. Wouldn’t that be a hoot? If you’ve never seen a six-man game, and you like offense, this is your game. I just don’t think it’s right to send a Class A team up against a AAA team. I don’t care if you have the best team in your class, you shouldn’t be playing a team that is a class larger, or worse yet, two classes bigger.

Boy, did I ever get carried away with the letter H!

And finally, T: Traveling trophies. From Anoka’s Pumpkin Bowl Trophy, which the Tornadoes have put on the line against their final regular-season opponent since 1950, to the Pizza Paddle, which Milaca and Princeton will begin playing for this fall. Plus, the Bay Bell, Hatchet, Musket, Wedge and many others statewide. They make game days extra special. Remember a few years ago, or maybe it was just last year, I had a whole list of the traveling trophies, that John Millea reported on in his “John’s Journal”. What’s your favorite?

Check out the Star Tribune recently and you can get the whole lowdown on the entire alphabet.

State rankings

The state rankings are out for the fall sports: football, volleyball and cross-country. I see tennis every once in a while, but don’t know if many, or any, of our schools, have tennis. I have a tennis background, but will save those stories for my book (That Reminds Me).

Nine-Man football: 1. Grand Meadow, 2. Spring Grove, 3. Mountain Lake Area, 4. Stephen-Argyle, 5. Cromwell-Wright, 6. Mountain Iron-Buhl, 7. Verndale, 8. Norman County East/Ulen-Hitterdal, 9. Goodridge/Grygla-Gatzke, 10. Hills-Beaver Creek, and 11. Lanesboro. All have records of 1-0, except GGG (0-1).

Class A football: 1. BOLD (Bird Island-Lake Lillian, Olivia), 2. Blooming Prairie, 3. Otter Tail Central (Henning, Battle Lake), 4. Mahnomen/Waubun, 5. Minneota, 6. United South Central, 7. Springfield, 8. Mayer Lutheran, 9. Deer River, 10. Polk County West (Climax, Fisher, East Grand Forks Sacred Heart). All teams are 1-0.

Class AA football: 1. Caledonia, 2. Minneapolis North, 3. Paynesville, 4. Redwood Valley, 5. Barnesville, 6. Chatfield, 7. Moose Lake-Willow River, 8. Pipestone Area, 9. West Central Area/Ashby, 10. Dover-Eyota, 11. Maple Lake. All are 1-0, except D-E, 0-1.

Class AAA football: 1. Rochester Lourdes, 2. Waseca, 3. Pierz, 4. Jackson County Central, 5. Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton, 6. Dassel-Cokato, 7. Albany, 8. Annandale, 9. Cannon Falls, 10. Perham (speaking of Yellowjackets).

Class AAAA: 1. St. Paul Academy/M’haha Academy/Blake, 2. Hutchinson, 3. Winona.

Class AAAAA: 1. Owatonna, 2. St. Thomas Academy, 3. Elk River, 4. Mankato West.

Class AAAAAA: 1. Eden Prairie, 2. Lakeville North, 3. St. Michael-Albertville. The StarTribune staff has Lakeville North at number one and Eden Prairie at number two in the Metro Area. The class polls are generated by the Associated Press.

Note the respect given to southeast Minnesota in the nine-man and AA polls.


Class A: 1. Kenyon-Wanamingo, 2. Minneota, 3. Mayer Lutheran, 4. Medford, 5. Waterville-Elysian-Morristown, 6. Mabel-Canton, 7. Caledonia, 8. Carlton, 9. Ada-Borup West, 10. Henning, 11. Barnesville. Teams appearing on only one ballot were Canby, Adrian, Russell-Tyler-Ruthton and New Life Academy.

Class AA: 1. Stewartville, 2. North Branch, 3. Marshall, 4. Concordia Academy, Roseville, 5. Kasson-Mantorville, 6. Belle Plaine, 7. Southwest Christian, 8. Pequot Lakes, 9. Sauk Centre, 10. New London-Spicer, 11. Watertown-Mayer, 12. Lake City. Teams appearing only on one ballot were Holy Angels, Albany, Glencoe-Silver Lake.

Class AAA: 1. Eagan,  2. Lakeville South, 3. Wayzata.

Again, look at the respect given to the programs in southeast Minnesota.

Cross Country

Lake City is ranked at number five in the girls division, Class A. Cotter is at number eight and Stewartville is at 11. In case you haven’t heard, the Ping sisters (Grace and Lauren), Cotter, have left the state again. This trip is to Arizona.

Individually, Natasha Sortland (ninth grader, Z-M) is ranked number two, Morgan Arnold (Cotter, junior) is at number eight and Jacey Majerus (Lake City, ninth grade) is at ten. Luverne is the top-ranked team, Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted is number two and Perham is at number three.

In the Class A boys, Perham is number one, West Central Area is number two and Nova Classic Academy is at number three. No team from the southeast is ranked in the top 12. No individuals are in the top 12 either.

I talked with Jason Feldman from the Post Bulletin this past week. He said the Section One previews were going to be out this past Thursday, along with the Pigskin Preview for football.

That is going to do it for me for this week. It is exactly 12 noon (Thursday). Melissa is going to be happy with me for meeting my deadline.

Hey to the Great 8 (I miss you guys), my Fab 4 (you too), the great Readers in the southeast, Melissa, and my wife, Carol (lovely, as ever). Hasta luego my friends.

Have a great week, one day at a time. Get out and support the school programs, whatever they may be. Hey to all at the Silver Grille, love you guys too. WEB.