The ROCORI Spartans quest for a state championship takes an interesting twist, this week.

It's not surprising that they are going to run into a very powerful, well-coached team, from the Metro area.  That's exactly what you would expect in the state 4A semi final game.  But just as surprised as others around the state may be at ROCORI's unlikely emergence as a powerhouse after last year's (2-7) record, the Hill-Murray Pioneers have raise a lot of eyebrows down in Maplewood.

Playing in the Classic Suburban Conference is no joke.  The Pioneers played a schedule that was infinitely tougher than ROCORI''s, and it is absolutely fair to say that their (9-2) record, is more impressive than the Spartans (10-1).  Hill-Murray lost to South St. Paul (who finished the regular season undefeated, and just lost last week to Bemidji), and to St. Thomas Academy, who is always very good.  The list of teams they have defeated is impressive.  Only the Spartans win against Rogers, would stand up against the Pioneers wins.

Hill-Murray was only 6-5 last year, so they are not exactly accustomed to being here this late in the season, either.  But they are hot right now - they've won 4 straight.  They have very good athletes, and they play very good defense.  But their biggest advantage may be the guy calling the shots.

Head Coach Brooks Bollinger played in the NFL for 6 seasons (Jets, Vikings, Cowboys, Lions).  He was a 4 year starter as the QB at Wisconsin, where he was 3-0 in bowl games, including winning the Rose Bowl his freshman year.  He knows how to win.  In 2009, in fact, he was the MVP of the UFL, playing for the Florida Tuskers.

And he has brought a dangerous, wide open offense to Hill-Murray.  They are becoming a factor, in a conference that they have always been an "also-ran" in.

That said - nobody has outcoached Mike Rowe this year for ROCORI.  The Spartans being where they are is no fluke.  This should be a fantastic game, with the winner going to the state 4A Championship Game.

Listen to every snap live on our sister station, AM 1240 WJON, and at - Chris Chapman and I will call all the action.