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Warriors Sports

MSHSL football: Caledonia receives forfeit win

Varsity vs Eastport South Manor HS on 10/23/2010 9:00:00 AM
Posted Wednesday, October 27, 2010 by LaCrosse Tribune

WINONA, Minn. - Tonight is playoff football time for high schools in Minnesota and Wisconsin, but one coach was involved in a wrestling match the past several days. It was a match Winona Cotter's Pat Bowlin decided he could not win.

Bowlin, with the interest of safety paramount over all other concerns, decided to pull the plug on Cotter High School's MSHSL Class 1AA playoff game tonight with powerhouse Caledonia. The football field will be dark tonight in Caledonia, as Bowlin informed the MSHSL on Monday that Cotter would be forfeiting the contest.

"All season it has been a tenuous situation with our numbers, but we were hanging in there," said Bowlin, who also serves as Cotter's athletic director. "In our last game against Goodhue, we had three concussions and a hand injury. That knocked us out."

Cotter (2-6), with just 10 healthy varsity players, would have had to play junior varsity athletes against a team that is 8-0 and the top seed in Section 1AA. It didn't matter who the Ramblers would have played, Bowlin said, as there simply were not enough experienced varsity players to put on the field.

Caledonia coach Brent Schroeder and Bowlin talked several times after Wednesday's final regular-season game. He knew the Ramblers were short on numbers and understands why Bowlin made the decision. Still, he said it was disappointing to not play a first-around game.

"I talked to Pat and we're trying to keep this as positive as possible. With injuries, he would have had to put in some of his younger kids that were just not ready to play at the varsity level," said Schroeder, whose team will play a second-round game on Saturday. "He would have had to play junior varsity kids."

Bowlin said Cotter practiced Friday and Saturday, and he was hoping some of his injured players would show signs of improvement. When they didn't, he decided to give Schroeder a "heads-up," then notified the MSHSL and Section 1AA commissioner Scott McCready of St. Charles on Monday.

"I was hoping some of them (players) could possibly come back," Bowlin said of the reason for not making the decision to forfeit right after the season finale on Wednesday. "I wasn't ready to do it (forfeit) at that point. I consulted many people in the process, but ultimately the decision was mine to make."

Schroeder said he was a bit surprised to hear about Cotter's overall low numbers, "considering they were at the top of the section here a few years back." Now, he said he and his coaching staff will concentrate on keeping the Warriors' focused.

"You always want to play, but now it's up to the coaches to keep the kids on task," Schroeder said. "It will give us more time to watch film and get ready."


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