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COLUMN: Local contenders

by CHUCK BANDEL
Valley Press | September 28, 2022 12:00 AM

Usually after three or four games, lots of prognosticators proclaim they know who is going to be standing on top of the pile when the sports season is over.

Just look, they say, at the way the Toros mowed down those first three opponents.

Nobody gonna touch them this year.

And often, a few games later, there’s tears in the beer.

Not so much from the pain of your team losing as from the pain of telling the spouse how much you bet on them.

So many of the so-called “locks” to win it all slip by the wayside as you would expect paper locks to do. Kleenex and tear-dampened betting stubs litter the landscape.

But what keeps it going is the very small percentage of these seers who actually get it right. For a year or so, they are wiser than Solomon and David, until the first time they pick wrong and things come crashing in.

So for me to say I have a team that is a lock to win it all, one would have to take it with a grain, if not a bag of rock salt. The can’t misses can always become the can’t happens in the tear of a ligament or the ill-timed fumble. So many things have to fall in place and luck is almost always one of those things.

So let’s deflate this a bit to say there are a few teams in the Min-Sand County area that one could take a chance on. Not by betting the funds for that fishing boat you’ve always wanted, but in this case let fun rule the day.

At the top of my area teams who I think can run the proverbial table and challenge for a bite of the whole enchilada is the Superior High Bobcats. It seems the break-up with nearby and now former co-op partner Alberton was not a bad thing, at least from the Superior point of view.

And I can say with the confidence of a toddler who builds a sand castle on more sand that this group of football players and coaches, may have that magic combination to reach for the stars.

A little more than halfway into the season, the Bobcat gridders have completely, in all phases of the game, dominated their foes. The stats show Superior averages 64 points per game on offense and surrenders 18 points per game on defense. For you stat junkies, that comes out to roughly 3.5 times more offense accumulated than their average opponent.

After obliterating Homecoming foe Arlee 68-6 this past week, the Bobcats and coaches Jeff Schultz, Charlie Crabb, Jake McElroy, Matt Daughty and Brad Smith appear to have positioned themselves for a realistic unbeaten conference season. At that point, as they say, anything can happen. Always looming in the picture are those bad boys from the eastern prairies.

But to me, this year seems different. I’ve always felt Schultz is one of the best coaches in the area, along with St. Regis’ Jesse Allan, Jim Lawson of six-man Hot Springs, state coach of the year Jarod Koskela, fresh off the 2021 8-man title for Thompson Falls, and newcomer Lucas MacArthur of upstart Noxon.

Schultz and his crew almost always have a team that has the potential to be in the thick of things at the end of the season. But this year, he and Crabb and the others have fashioned a group of underclassmen into a potent scoring machine and a stingy defense.

The players seem to have a quiet, unstated belief that this year may be their turn to win it all. To stand behind the podium, wipe away a tear and say “I’d like to thank all the little people who made this happen”.

The Cats are solid on both sides of the ball, ready for the challenge of the last four regular season games. Ready to take on all comers including Charlo and Mission who stand in their way.

And before I get a bit delusional (too late you might be thinking?), the phrase “on any Friday (well, Sunday in the NFL)” comes to mind. How many spoilers may lie ahead?

Will the ball, which has a point on each end, continue to bounce their way?

I don’t see any team around these parts stopping them, although Charlo, currently 4-1 will come to Superior October 7, and Mission, also among the unbeatens at 5-0, will travel to Superior October 21 for a regular season wrap-up that could require maintenance crews to install extra Velcro on the bleacher seats.

What I do know is that, if at all possible, this large dude will be under the Friday Night Lights of Superior High on both of those nights.

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