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Editorial: Backing up the 'School of Champions' claim - again

It takes gall to label one's school the "School of Champions," but in the first athletic season of 2012, Perham-Dent High School is again backing up the claim.

The boys cross country team put together the best season in school history, which, in and of itself, says quite a bit.

The team won the fourth Class A state championship in the past decade and did it in convincing fashion, logging the fifth best performance in state meet history.

On the back of that performance and a dominating regular season, the Yellowjackets will hoist a national championship trophy and add more banners to the middle school gymnasium wall later this month.

The national title is the first in school history.

The team was ranked nationally all season, taking the top spot in Division II and gaining a top-15 position amongst all schools in the country.

There are 13,000 schools with cross country programs in the country and Perham is currently ranked as one of the best, outranking 12,985 other schools.

That number is mind boggling on the surface, but on par after two years of following this team closely.

Their rank of No. 15 joined a three-pack of Minnesota schools, Edina at No. 13 and Stillwater at No. 14, two schools a class above Perham and with significantly larger school sizes.

The Yellowjackets just missed a shot at a trip to Oregon for the national championships, a feat nearly unheard of for such a small school.

The efforts of the team and the girls team, which made their 10th consecutive trip to state finishing seventh, were highlighted all year in the sports section and both teams ended their seasons with the class and dignity shared by so many other Perham championship teams before them.

Next year's teams have much to live up to after one of the best cross country seasons of all time in Perham.

Their accomplishments may not be matched.

The Perham football team is looking to add a second state title to the first athletic season now just two wins away from Perham's first-ever football championship.

The Yellowjacket offense is on a record-setting pace, led by senior quarterback Jordan Hein.

See today's sports section for a breakdown on the nearly 30 individual and team season records that have been broken or are in jeopardy with two games to play.

Hein is putting together one of the best seasons in Perham history. He has set five new records this season, including four in the past two playoff games.

Hein is already the school's leading rusher of all time, set earlier this season, and with each game he surpasses another mark.

Perham will need to get past the best 3A defense in the state in the Blue Earth Area Buccaneers.

Perham is ranked No. 5 with a record of 10-1. Blue Earth enters the state semifinals ranked No. 2 with an undefeated record.

Perham's defense has improved steadily all season and the match-up between the two clubs could be a low scoring affair if both teams show up defensively as they have in the playoffs so far.

Then again, Hein's talents allow for Perham to blow up against any team, and they could cruise to the state finals by way of a blowout if the trend of this season's offensive playoff games continues.

The goal of the Perham football team was an undefeated season and a trip to the Metrodome that has recently garnered the moniker Project Dome.

The psyche of playing undefeated, as to having felt the sting of a loss, will be palpable on the sidelines.

Blue Earth Area has all the pressure with a better ranking and an unblemished record.

Perham's loss to 4A Detroit Lakes was a wake-up call and the team has responded since. They are outhitting every team they play, to the sound of groans from the crowd after huge hits.

The team heads to the metro for a match-up of the final four teams.

To earn a second trip to the Metrodome Nov. 24, the Perham football team simply needs to adhere to the team message they've used all season: "Get better."

It's hard to imagine that is possible after the blowout of Esko in the state quarterfinals.

However, this is one team that has been doing that weekly for the past month. Look for a big effort from the Jackets at the Dome.

Earning two state titles in one season is no easy task.

Then again, the feat was last done in Perham by the 2010-11 Gymnastics and Boys' Basketball teams.

Maybe it isn't so difficult.

Not if you're representing the "School of Champions."