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Steele teams hoping to bounce back
Johnnie Phillips, Sports Editor
Johnnie Phillips, editor, sports, Steele County Times

Week two of the 2023 season was not kind to Steele County teams as Blooming Prairie, Medford, NRHEG and Owatonna all lost their games handily.

In total, Steele County squads were outscored 152-32 in what was surely the most dominant week for opposing teams in recent memory.

The fact that a statistic like this is something that I have to highlight as outlandish is a sign of local teams’ typical dominance in recent memory.

While Medford and NRHEG have been dealing with some young rebuilds and smaller team numbers, Blooming Prairie and Owatonna have been rolling out section-championship and even state-title caliber teams for years, meaning that a sight such as this past week’s scoreboard are not something I would expect to see again any time soon.

Nonetheless, the losses are in the past and now it’s time to focus on next week’s slate.

To use a coaching cliché – since I get to hear them so often in my post-game interviews – I think it’s fair to say that, “The next game is the one that matters most.”

Here’s what to watch out for:



Nobody runs all over Owatonna quite like Chanhassen did last week.

Head coach Jeff Williams addressed it himself, there are some issues that need to be addressed with open-field tackling and finishing on offense.

If anything is for certain, The Huskies have the elite coaching staff and high-level athletes capable of making such corrections – and making them quickly.

Next up for the Huskies is a matchup with undefeated New Prague.

The Huskies lost a tight 17-6 game to the Trojans last season and will hope to get their revenge this week.

Bright spots in the Huskies’ offense seem to be the team’s surplus of wide receivers consisting of names like Owen Beyer, Nolan Ginskey and Caleb Hullopeter.

Expect to see the Huskies turn to their star-studded cast of wideouts early and often.

New Prague poses a significant defensive threat allowing just seven points through two weeks, so fans may be in for a bit of a defensive grudge match if anything against the always-game Trojans.


Blooming Prairie

After a tough test against Fillmore Central last week, Blooming Prairie will return home to take on Wabasha-Kellogg.

The Falcons enter week two with the same record as Blooming Prairie at 1-1, but are a bit of a wildcard having lost to Kenyon-Wanamingo 7-36 and beating Hayfield 37-8.

Despite losing 41-18 last week, Blooming Prairie did manage to establish the run and pose a dangerous threat to a strong Fillmore Central defense.

Blossoms head coach Chad Gimbel preaches the importance of having a dominant offensive line, and with playmakers like Brady Kittelson, Cole Wangen and Alex Lea at his disposal, I’d look for the Blossoms to bully Wabasha-Kellog in the trenches and establish the run early.



Mistakes have plagued Medford for the past few seasons and with Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop (GFW) coming to town, the Tigers are going to have to be perfect if they want to stay competitive.

GFW is known for its smash-mouth, run-first offense and will look to pick Medford apart between the hashes with long, sustained drives.

The Tigers will not be able to turn the ball over or give up quick three-and-out possessions because the Thunderbirds will make them pay with points and time of possession.

Look for the Tigers to continue getting creative with utility player Jesse Ortiz.

Ortiz lined up at wide receiver late in last week’s game and could be used in more new ways to give the Tigers an edge.



Points are essential, and at the moment NRHEG is still looking for their first ones of the season.

2021 state champion Mayer-Lutheran is no slouch on either side of the ball outscoring opponents 58-12 through their first two games.

Week three may be best used as another learning week for the Panthers as the Knights are possibly the team’s toughest matchup on its schedule in 2023.

Look for the Panthers to continue working on their passing attack, but tailor expectations on the team breaking its two-game scoreless streak.

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