This year's high school football season ran especially long for players on teams in the Prep Bowl. Because of that, an already loaded winter sports schedule became even more back-loaded than usual, as three Mt. Lake Area-Comfrey boys basketball games were postponed and rescheduled for later in the season. Generally speaking, I understand why the Prep Bowl is held over Thanksgiving weekend. The attendance and television viewership does tend to be better during that holiday weekend. This year, though, that meant a two-week gap between the semifinals and finals. Personally, I'd rather see the high school football season end even earlier. If the MSHSL were to implement a schedule where teams play other teams from their section, they could feasibly eliminate a quarterfinal round from the section tournament, with the top four teams advancing to the playoffs. And if the date were no object, the Prep Bowl, this year, could have been played the weekend of Nov. 15-16. That would allow winter sports to begin reasonably close to their original date, leading to fewer postponements, while leaving less of the schedule at the mercy of the weather. Always a Champ This weekend, I received word that my high school principal had passed away. Dale Champ had a long teaching and coaching career at Elbow Lake-Wendell, where he taught industrial arts and led ELW to numerous conference and district boys basketball titles. When ELW and Barrett paired in the fall of 1986, Champ hung up his whistle and his shop glasses and stepped into administration. He'd served as high school principal until his retirement, first at West Central and, later, West Central Area after the consolidation with Hoffman-Kensington. Mr. Champ was an old-school teacher and principal - tough, but fair. And nothing made him prouder than seeing students and teams do well. As one of the "good kids," I tended to not cross paths with Mr. Champ in his disciplinary role very often. When I did, he told me that he was surprised to see me. And if you ended up serving detention with him, you weren't just sitting quietly in a desk. He always had tasks that ensured you wouldn't want to come back. But if you didn't do them right the first time, you did the second. I haven't run into many of my former teachers since I moved to Windom in 1995. The last time I saw Mr. Champ was at the state golf tournament in 2008. He was there to watch his grandson, who played on the team that ended up edging out Windom for the title. He told me that he figured that if I wasn't teaching, I'd be doing something sports-related for a career. Even though I was never a star athlete in high school, he knew that I had a passion for sports. It's often said that teachers can make a lasting impact on students. Even though I never had him as a classroom teacher, I can say with certainty that Mr. Champ had an impact on me and countless others in Barrett, Elbow Lake, Wendell and beyond.