My lifetime buddy Fred Friedman on the woeful Vikings, moving forward – "They have to sign (Danielle) Hunter if they want to win. He is one of the best players in football. They should sign (Kirk) Cousins but they cannot win with or without him unless they improve the offensive line and cornerbacks and get a backup quarterback who does not turn the ball over. They also have to vastly improve their drafting and player evaluation. (Marcus) Davenport is the 10th highest paid professional athlete in Minnesota. Look it up. The talented free agents they could have signed instead of him would have made a difference. Additionally there are all-star players drafted after first-round pick (Lewis) Cine. Those two mistakes cost them countless close games."
Hermantown football coach Mike Zagelmeyer – "I think once Kirk (Cousins) went down, the Vikings probably should have played (backup quarterback Jaren) Hall to see if they had anything there. Now I absolutely think they have to do that. The worst place to be is a middle of the pack team, and that is what the Vikings are. They need help in the draft and won't get it being a close to .500 team. Also, I would say Kwesi Adofo-Mensah (Vikings' general manager) does not have a great track record in drafting players. Should be interesting though. When do pitchers and catchers report?"
Legendary Duluth Central and Bulldogs football great Scott Hanna – "It would be a different story if Kirk (Cousins) was healthy. What impressed me is they haven’t quit. They're still playing hard, just not quite good enough to get over the hump."
Local sports expert Joel Heller – "I think it would be better for the Vikings to lose the last two games of the year and get a higher draft pick. We have no capable quarterback at all. There are four capable quarterbacks that can go in the top-20 in this year’s draft. We need one of them. The defense is so tired because they’re out there all the time – and they can’t stop anything. Even if we win, we’re not gonna make it far in the playoffs. How is it fair for a family of four to go watch this kind of football right now? It’s not."
. . .
Dave Goldberg on the Bulldogs men's and women's basketball teams – "If they maintain their defensive intensity they have a good chance to be the top teams in the NSIC. The men's team needs to improve its free throw shooting to win close games."
LOCAL PREP SPORTS TODAY
Boys Hockey – Hibbing vs. Breck, 1:45 p.m. Herb Brooks Classic in Blaine
Girls Hockey – Duluth vs. Wayzata, 1:30 p.m. Herb Brooks Holiday Classic (Gold) in Blaine
Boys Basketball – Hinckley-Finlayson vs. Esko, 7:15 p.m. Esko Coaches Classic
Girls Basketball – Bloomington Kennedy vs. Hermantown, 2:45 p.m. Esko Coaches Classic
PREP PLAYERS ON THE RISE
Hermantown basketball senior power forward Abe Soumis continues to draw major interest from college scouts, including a few D1 schools.
. Six-foot-3 Cloquet hockey junior forward Bobby Thornton has 11 goals in eight games, including a three-goal burst in a 5-4 win against nonconference Blaine on Dec. 16.
. Hermantown hockey sophomore forward-defenseman AJ Francisco is an elite Division I prospect who has the potential to be the Hawks' best pure scorer since Drew LeBlanc (2004-07), who won the prestigious Hobey Baker Award in 2013 as a dominating two-way player for St. Cloud State.