By David McCoy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s Championship Weekend in Minnesota high school football, with four state title games Friday and three more Saturday at U.S. Bank Stadium.

But of all 14 teams playing, there’s probably none the game mean more to than one tiny town in Southeastern Minnesota — Spring Grove.

For as long as Spring Grove has been playing high school football, it’s never before, had a day like this.

“This is really exciting here,” Spring Grove resident Craig Bender said at U.S. Bank Stadium Thursday.

It’s the first time the team has ever played in a state championship game. Bender has lived in Spring Grove his entire life. He even played on the team back in his day.

“Back when I played football, we were so darn close,” he said.

Now, watching his team play in the Vikings’ stadium for a state title, for the first time — it’s indescribable.

“There’s a lot of backing,” Bender said. “They have good support, the community is behind them.”

The population of Spring Grove is about 1,200 people, but somehow there was a lot more than 1,200 people at Thursday’s game.

“There’s a lot of Lion pride here. Lot of backers for it.

“Out of a town of 1,200 people, I believe they brought up five charter buses, full of fans,” Spring Grove fan Kimberly Ostlund said. “So, I’m just proud. Very proud.”

Everyone wants to be a part of the town’s big moment, which makes you wonder — was there anybody still in Spring Grove today?

“Well, that’s a good question!” Bender said. “I suppose the chief of police is there!”

“I mean, look around. The whole town is pretty much here, I’m pretty sure there’s no one left in Spring Grove,” Lions fan Tracy Peterson said.

Spring Grove plays in the state’s smallest class, which is called Nine-Man Football. The Lions won the championship Thursday, 32-0.


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