Tough road ahead
GOWRIE — Mike Swieter has been coaching for 21 years, and he’s never seen a district race stacked quite like Class 2A, District 2 is shaping up to be.
After this week’s Associated Press prep football rankings, all six schools are in the Top-10 — with five taking each of the five top spots.
Swieter’s Southeast Valley Jaguars check in at No. 3, while their opponent, this Friday, two-time defending state champion OABCIG, is No. 1 as it heads to Gowrie.
Spirit Lake is second. Estherville-Lincoln Central is fourth, followed by Pocahontas Area. Clarion-Goldfield-Dows rounds out the rankings at No. 10.
Fourth-rated EL-C is the only squad with a loss, falling last week to fourth-ranked (3A) Humboldt.
“Nobody has ever seen this,” Swieter said. “There may have been three ranked teams (from the same district) in the preseason. We are going into Week 4, and have five undefeated teams and five in the Top-5. The only was to a really good 3A Humboldt team.
“This won’t happen again. Thank goodness four teams make the playoffs now (from the district).”
Swieter believes that it just happens to be a perfect storm of schools succeeding all in the same year.
“This has nothing to do with the state stacking things in our district,” Swieter said. “It just happens to be a tough slate in 2021. District 2 is absolutely loaded.”
Swieter knows the negative effect of rankings sometimes. But for his club, he views it as more than just an educated guess.
After an unbeaten regular season last fall, Southeast Valley has earned it.
“I want for our program to be ranked,” Swieter said. “If you are, it means you have a well-respected program. But to get to that point, you have to beat those other teams. I love having a tough schedule. Do I want to play a schedule like this every year? No. It’s definitely good to have some games where you can get some wins and rest up.
“We are third, and we will have to beat a lot of top teams to continue to move up.”
The Jaguars were district champions and a 1A state quarterfinalist a year ago. They’ve picked up right where they left off, cruising in their first three games.
Southeast Valley (3-0) owns wins over Hampton-Dumont-CAL (34-15), Emmetsburg (46-21) and Interstate 35 (28-0).
Senior Kolson Kruse has thrown for 601 yards and five touchdowns. He threw for 328 yards and four scores against Emmetsburg. Kruse has also rushed for 263 yards and four TDs.
Junior Eli Johnson has caught 10 balls for 318 yards and two touchdowns.
Friday’s game against OABCIG starts a five-week stretch against ranked opponents for SV. Following the game against the Falcons, the Jags take on No. 4 E-LC, No. 10 Clairon-Goldfield-Dows, fifth-rated Pocahontas Area and No. 2 Spirit Lake as the finale.