There has been a lively competition in Texas as to which school district can construct the most-expensive high school football stadium. McKinney is an outer suburb of Dallas, 30 miles north with a population of 150,000.
The voters had approved $12.5 million for a stadium years ago. The money still was there, and in May, there was approval of another $50.3 million for the football stadium.
That earned the McKinney residents a headline in the Washington Post declaring the $62.8 million project will provide their lads with the most expensive high school football stadium in the country.
Hah. Not even close.
On Thursday, eight teams from all directions of Minnesota turned the new domed stadium in eastern Minneapolis into the most expensive high school football stadium in the country.
And no matter what happens in Texas, it’s going to be difficult to top $1.2 billion for a high school football palace.
You don’t believe it? Check the rent check the Minnesota State High School League has been forced to write for five days of football (and three more days of futbol) to conduct state championships in the second dome on this site.
Some brilliant legislators (yes, brilliant) — when signing off on this giveaway to the Vikings — looked across the negotiating table and said:
“That substantial rent you were charging the high school league for the Prep Bowl and other events at the Metrodome — that’s gone. It’s free.”
This will not cut into the Vikings’ larder of millions. It’s merely kind of fun that the stadium authority and its operators are stuck serving the public good for a few days.
Thursday evening was my first visit to our pricey new arena. I walked into the press box, took a computer from a bag, put it on a table and looked down to see Benilde-St. Margaret’s Ricky Floyd heading east and down the right sideline for a 51-yard TD.
This touchdown gave BSM a 21-13 lead over Marshall with 2:28 left in the first half.
The BSM kickoff was short and returned to 37. On the first play from scrimmage, Marshall quarterback Trey Lance found Nick Ektaniphong for a 63-yard touchdown. A two-point conversion tied the game at 21-21.
Marshall kicked off deep, and Peyton James went 93 yards for a touchdown to put BSM ahead 28-21.
That was my introduction to football on the turf of the new dome: Two plays from scrimmage, two kickoff returns, and three touchdowns totaling 207 yards.
Dang, youngsters … you like it here.
Floyd busted a 28-28 tie with a 34-yard touchdown early in the second half. He finished with 288 yards and those three TDs, and the Red Knights advanced to next week’s Class 4A championship game with a 44-34 win.
Thursday’s main event was No. 1-rated Totino-Grace and Blaine in a Class 6A semifinal. It was somethin’.
The teams had played in the regular season and Totino held on for a 21-14 victory. The Bengals scored, recovered an onside kick and they had a shot for another touchdown.
Coach Tom Develice said that if Blaine scored, it was going for a two-point conversion.
“We were going to beat Grace,” Develice said. “That was our plan.”
The score was identical on Thursday — 21-14 for Totino, and all it needed was three inches on fourth down at Blaine’s 32. The ball came loose on a quarterback dive, and Blaine recovered, and then quarterback Connor Melton, a junior lefty with a terrific trigger, led a quick touchdown drive.
Blaine scored on Chase Harper’s 1-yard run with 59 seconds left. The plan was the same: go for two, beat Grace.
Blaine went into an exotic formation. Totino called timeout and reminded its defenders of the coverage. No one came free (the Bengals were certain a receiver had been held) and Melton was sacked.
Do you remember Tom Newman?
“Of course I do,” Totino-Grace coach Jeff Ferguson said. “I was on the Blaine coaching staff.”
In 1988, Newman was Blaine’s quarterback, and he was judged to have made the goal line on a two-point conversion toward the left pylon — giving the Bengals a 25-24 victory over Cretin-Derham Hall for the Prep Bowl’s large school title.
You can still find photos in the coach’s office at Cretin-DH that seem to show Newman down before the goal line.
“Mal Scanlan [then Cretin’s coach] and I still have a different view of that play,” Ferguson said. “Tommy was stretched out. He was in all the way.”
Then Ferguson smiled, which was a coach’s natural reaction after a two-point try by Blaine went his way again 28 years later — and sent Totino-Grace to next Friday’s 6A final.