Blossoms looking to take the next step
Coming off a first ever trip to the Metrodome in Minneapolis for the semifinals of the Class A State playoffs, the Blooming Prairie Blossoms will try to take another step toward a championship this season.
The last few years have been filled with a lot of success for coach Chad Gimbel and his team. The Blossoms won a section title two years ago and made it to state, then they returned to state last year and recorded a first round win in posting an 11-2 overall record. They also won the Gopher Valley A Conference with a 6-0 record.
There are good reasons for high hopes from their faithful followers at McFarlin Field as the Blossoms return key starters from last year's trip to the Dome.
Junior quarterback Luc Zellmer returns to lead the offense. His statistical tally from last season tells the story of the Blossoms state run. Zellmer completed 134 passes out of 254 attempts for 2,256 yards, 34 touchdowns, and only 11 interceptions.
Zellmer's favorite target, senior wide receiver Cooper Nelson, also returns and the tradition of the aerial circus for the Blossoms looks like it will continue. Nelson had 44 receptions last year for 821 yards and 15 touchdowns. Gabe Kartes is another returning receiver as he had 32 catches last season for 584 yards and five touchdowns.
Every good offense needs a credible ground game and the Blossoms have junior halfback Jon Kraling coming back this season. Kraling had 42 carries and gained 211 yards last year.
Defensively, the Blossoms have more returning talent. Nelson is a defensive end and had 43 tackles with eight quarterback sacks last season. Dylan Hatch is a senior strong safety, who had 44 tackles and one interception a year ago.
Luke Hueman is one of four captains on the team and the junior is a key figure in the defensive scheme at linebacker. Hueman had 48 tackles and a pair of sacks last season. Alex Fiebiger and Pat Jones, both juniors, will anchor the line on both sides of the ball.
"All of this talk about the state tournament is fun for the fans, but we're focused on the first game of the season," coach Gimbel said of the upcoming campaign.
There is plenty of opportunity for concern with New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva coming to McFarlin Field for the season opener. Last year, one of the two losses suffered by the Blossoms came against the NRHEG Panthers.
Sep. 3 — New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva
Sep. 10— at Randolph
Sep. 17— at Waseca
Sep. 24— LeCenter
Oct. 1— at Mankato Loyola
Oct. 8— Medford
Oct. 16— at Bethlehem Academy
Oct. 20— Saint Clair