Jags, Mavs kick off playoffs at home

FAIRMONT – The Martin County West Mavericks football team lost one game all season, beating opponents by an average of 32 points in each game.

Now, with the regular season finished, the Mavericks move up to Section 3AA, where they earned the No. 4 seed in hopes of reaching the Class AA state tournament in November.

The Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman Jaguars, likewise, earned an opening-round home game with the No. 2 seed in Section 2 of the Nine-Man playoff bracket.

“For our seeding, it came down to a tiebreaker, with our win over Madelia being the determining factor,” said Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman head coach Lee Dallager. “We worked hard all season and we earned our seeding with that big win earlier in the season.”

The road to the Metrodome kicks off when the Jaguars face the No. 7-seeded Alden-Conger Knights at 7 p.m. Tuesday night in a sectional quarterfinal in Granada.

The Jaguars (5-3) faced the Knights (0-8) just a few weeks ago, with a rain-delayed second half being played on Saturday, with the Jaguars winning 20-6.

“I think that we can go into the playoffs with some confidence,” said Dallager. “If we get by Alden-Conger on Tuesday, then we’ll play Madelia – both teams we beat in the regular season.”

The Blackhawks earned the No. 3 seed and will face No. 6-seeded West Lutheran at 7 p.m. Tuesday night in Madelia.

The Jaguars had a big turnaround from last season’s 3-6 finish, including a loss to No. 1-seeded Adrian in the opening round of Section 2, Nine-Man playoffs.

With the help of a balanced offensive attack, the Jaguars are looking for an extended playoff run this season.

“We are always trying to find that balanced offensive attack with both passing and running,” said Dallager. “We haven’t been as consistent as we need to be, and we haven’t played our best the last three games, but I think we’ll get there by Tuesday.”

And if all goes according to plan, the Jaguars could have a rematch against Nicollet, the No. 1 seed who beat the Jaguars 34-7 last Friday.

“If we are able to get past Alden-Conger on Tuesday, then we’ll play Madelia, which will be an emotional game,” said Dallager. “Then if we could win that, and get to play Nicollet again, I think that could be a really exciting game.”

Meanwhile, the Mavericks play host to the No. 5-seeded New Richland- Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva Panthers at 7 p.m. Tuesday night in Sherburn.

The New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva Panthers finished their regular season with a 5-3 record in the Gopher Valley Conference.

The winner of that matchup will have a tough challenge waiting for them, as they will likely face the No. 1-seeded and Class AA, No. 6-ranked Jackson County Central Huskies at 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26, in Jackson.

The Mavericks also are hoping to improve upon last year’s playoff finish, losing in the Section 3A semifinals to No. 2 seed St. Clair in the game’s final minutes.

Martin County West, who finished with a 5-5 overall record last season, opened its playoff bid with a 31-14 win over the United South Central Rebels at home, before the Cyclones spun them out of the playoffs.

This season, the Mavericks (7-1) feel their chances are even better, despite facing some tough opponents.

“Our top guys have really only had to play one full game this season, so that is a little nerve-racking,” said Martin County West head coach T.J. Schmidtke. “I think we are conditioned well enough and are in shape enough for our first game, but it will be an adjustment to our other games.”

The Mavericks’ lone loss came at the hands of Wabasso (7-1) who claimed the No. 2 seed in the Section 3A playoffs.

Jumping up a class for the first time in the playoffs may prove to be a challenge for the offensively-powered Mavericks.

“I think defensively we will face some challenges. We still have things that we need to work on and get ready for before Tuesday,” said Schmidtke. “Facing a strong running team could prove to be a challenge for us, and we need to make sure we are ready for it.”