MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — High school football is at its best on Friday nights in the fall, but a game Saturday afternoon in St. Cloud is giving Minnesota’s graduated seniors one more chance to step on the field as prep athletes.
More than 80 of the state’s top senior football players, 88 to be exact, will strap on the pads and buckle their helmet one final time for Minnesota Football Coaches Association All-Star Football Game. The game is at 1 p.m. at Husky Stadium on the campus of St. Cloud State University.READ MORE: 5 People Injured In House Explosion In Cambridge
The players and coaches will represent 79 schools and 27 conferences around Minnesota. Many of the 88 players in the game are going onto play football at the college level. Some are headed to Division I schools, others are staying in state and will be at MIAC schools. It’s the 42nd straight game in the series and 53rd overall.
For the fifth straight year, rosters have been put together to have the North face the South. The most recent series has the South leading the North 3-1. In the overall North versus South series, the South leads 11-9-1. The South beat the North last year at St. John’s University, 37-22.
Osseo’s Derrin Lamker is the head coach of the North team this year, and Brian Vossen of Lakeville North is the head coach of the South squad. Together, the two head coaches have a combined 15 years of head coaching experience and a combined record of 115-47.
Lamker has been the head coach at Osseo for 10 seasons and has a 64-36 record, including a state tournament appearance in 2013. Vossen became the Lakeville North head coach in 201 and has a 46-11 record, including four state tournament appearances and one Prep Bowl appearance.
In the past, the teams have consisted of Twin Cities metro area players against teams from greater Minnesota.READ MORE: Pedestrian Injured After Being Struck In Uptown Minneapolis
Saturday’s game should feature plenty of talent and athleticism. Between the two rosters, there are 42 state tournament participants, including 15 who played in the Prep Bowl and seven who won state championships. That’s a pretty impressive talent pool for a game that’s essentially a glorified exhibition.
But don’t tell the players that. They are competitors, and they want to leave the field for the final time as prep athletes with a win. The bottom line is the game is about having fun and making plays. It also gives college coaches one final look at some of their incoming freshmen before fall camps start in August.
Both squads are filled with talented players who can make big plays. The South squad is led by Robbie Grimsley, who starred at Hutchinson and was named this year’s Mr. Football. He led the Tigers to a dominating run in Class 4A. The squad will also feature quarterback Ryan Schlichte of Mankato West, one of the top passers in the state last fall. Other top players include running back Will Rains of Eden Prairie, receiver Justin Arnold of Chaska and quarterback Billy Hart of DeLaSalle. Rains led Eden Prairie to a state title last year and Hart led the Islanders to the Prep Bowl.
The North squad is also loaded with talent. It is led by Becker’s Michael Veldman, a talented athletee who led the Bulldogs at quarterback to a state championship over DeLaSalle. The North team will also have Rogers running back Gunnar Bloom, Stillwater running back/linebacker Zach Knox, Totino-Grace running back Kez Flomo and wide receiver Ben Mezzenga as well as Maple Grove running back Clark Wienecke.
Players for both teams started the week with their version of training camp, a slate of practices at St. John’s University.MORE NEWS: 12-Year-Old Hurt In St. Paul Shooting; Investigation Underway
Again, Saturday’s game is set for a 1 p.m. kickoff at Husky Stadium at St. Cloud State. And another reminder: The 2015 football season, at least fall practices, is less than two months away.