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Winter Throws New Twist Into H.S. Football Playoffs

OSSEO, Minn. (WCCO) -- Inside the Vadnais Sports Dome, the Totino-Grace Eagles football team practices in relative comfort. It's just one of 28 boy's high school football teams striving to get to the Prep Bowl. But there's one big hurdle ahead that few expected.

Their semi-final games will be played in bone-chilling temperatures and on fields now blanketed with heavy snow. That's a far cry from the past 25 years when all those games would have been played indoors.

"We couldn't have had a worse crossing of the stars to get this weather," Ray Kirch, Osseo High School's Athletic Director, said.

Kirch's high school will be one of six host sites entertaining three of 14 semifinal playoff games.

On Tuesday, district grounds crews worked through much of the day to scrape down to the artificial turf.

"We won't be able to totally clear it off. We would damage the turf if we got too close to it.So we need some help with some sunshine and we hope there's some radiant heat left underneath that will help with some melting," Kirch said.

Since 1989, the Metrodome hosted all the games in the semifinal round leading up to the post-Thanksgiving Prep Bowl. Playing inside meant adverse weather was never a problem.

"Normally, we'd be heading to the Dome right now," tournament director, Kevin Merkle, said.

Instead, area high schools and St. Cloud State will hold all 14 semifinal games, with championship games played at TCF stadium.

The Minnesota State High School League's Merkle says the bigger worry is now the falling temperatures.

"We're concerned about how the snow is going to come off the fields, whether it's froze down or not. We're still working on that. And then of course what's the condition of the fields after we get the snow off," Merkle said.

It is possible that if some of the fields are not playable, games could be consolidated to other sites. Also, Merkle adds that some game times could be moved up in the day to take advantage of possible sunshine.


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