Back on Sept. 28, Holy Family -- in its first season as a full-fledged member of the Wright County Conference -- was pounded by Hutchinson 60-7 in football, dropping its record to 2-3 overall.
Despite making three trips to the Class 3A tournament over the past four years, the Fire appeared to have some serious work to do to compete in the ornery WCC.
"We had lost to Orono the week before and that broke a 27-game home winning streak," Fire coach Dave Hopkins said. "I told our kids then that was the worst loss we've had in 11 years. And then we followed it up with a bigger worst loss."
Hopkins said he didn't know what to tell his team when they gathered after the loss to Hutchinson. So he made a promise.
"What came out of my mouth was that we were going to absolutely keep coaching this team as hard as we could," said Hopkins. "I told them if they wanted to keep getting coached, show up on Monday."
Clearly, Hopkins got the response he desired. A little more than a month later, the 9-3 Fire is back in the state tournament, having qualified for the Class 4A field with a 42-35 victory over Holy Angels in the Section 3 championship game.
It was a sophomore who led the way Friday. Chazz Johnson, a 5-9, 160-pound running back/free safety, contributed in just about every way possible.
Johnson rushed for 153 yards and scored touchdowns on runs of 5, 7 and 28 yards, the last of which was the game-winner, a late fourth-quarter dash with the score tied 35-35.
On defense, the ultra-quick Johnson made 11 tackles and returned a fumble 71 yards for a third-quarter touchdown. He even racked up 64 yards on two kickoff returns, both of which set up Holy Family touchdowns.
"You never forget a loss like 60-7," Hopkins said. "But the playoffs can wipe away bad memories like that."
SW Christian tourney-bound
Chaska's Southwest Christian advanced to the Class 1A volleyball tournament for the second time in team history with a three-set victory over Mayer Lutheran in the Class 1A, Section 4 final Thursday.
As she has all season, outside hitter Mackenzie Horkey led the way with 21 kills while middle blocker Abby Palkert chipped in with 14. Katie Lubben coordinated the attack and had 43 set assists.
The Stars (23-10) earned the No. 3 seed in the Class 1A tournament and will play Underwood in the quarterfinals.