MOORHEAD—A high chance for blizzard-like conditions has forced the Mountain Iron-Buhl football team to be prepared for just about anything.
That’s because their Class 9-Man State quarterfinal game set for tonight against Kittson County Central has been postponed to Friday at 5 p.m. in Moorhead.
Last year, MI-B made the trip to Grand Rapids to take on Fertile-Beltrami. Snow covered the field from start to finish and created conditions that weren’t favorable to the Rangers whatsoever. Now MI-B will hopefully have a clean surface to play on once Friday rolls around and the weather has calmed down.
Downing Cherry on Friday to earn their fifth-straight section title, Ranger head coach Dan Zubich says practice has been solid since then, but dealing with the unknowns in the form of travel and weather make things difficult.
“The players are fine. Practice has been fine considering how late we are into the season,” Zubich said Tuesday before the decision to postpone the game was made. “We’re just worrying about getting there and a lot of our parents are worried about the travel.”
The game was initially moved up two hours from a 7 p.m. start to 5 p.m. for tonight by the Minnesota State High School League. Early Wednesday afternoon, the call was made to move the game to Friday; same time, same place. On the initial decision to just move the game up two hours, Zubich wasn’t sure that will help much with heavy rain on Wednesday turning into snow on Thursday in the Moorhead area.
“I don’t think it’s going to make much of a difference. We’re still going to have 55 mile an hour winds and we have to end up driving four hours just to get there. It’s two and a half hours for Kittson as well, so no one here is enjoying the travel.”
The champions out of Section 8, Kittson County Central boasts a perfect record much like the Rangers. With an athletic roster that likes to run the ball offensively, Zubich says the weather will pose another challenge for his team that likes to play a more diverse style of football.
“They can do whatever they want because I’m sure they want to run the ball nearly every play anyway. It’s hard for us to play our game and throw the ball with winds as high as they’re expected to be so we’ll need to make adjustments for that.”
With Cherry being the only team to give the Rangers much trouble at all through their first 10 games, Zubich hopes a culmination of his team’s efforts, from the offseason until now, have prepared them for the biggest game of their season.
“We try to play those tougher teams at camps in the summer and then scrimmage some right before the regular season. You want to prepare yourself for a game like this and we think we have going all the way back.”
Still, there’s plenty up in the air for the Rangers. Moving the game back a day gives them an opportunity to play on a clear surface with hopefully far less wind that could detract from their run game. Every year, however, it seems like Mother Nature has no interest in outdoor football in early November.
“There’s a travel advisory so that would be pretty tough to drive through if we have to. It seems like it always happens this way. I’ve been here since 2006 and every year, there’s terrible weather for the state quarterfinals. I wish we could move the season up a week and then we’d likely avoid all of this.”
Should the Rangers advance, the state semifinals and finals would be played indoors at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
“Hopefully for our seniors, they can go and play the game they want to play and we can advance and play some games at the Bank. That would be a much better way to go out.”