Grand Meadow coaches and players won’t deny that a 10-2 record and a trip to the state tournament is worthy of praise. That’s what the Superlarks achieved last year and it gave them satisfaction after being shut out of the playoffs the prior two years. No question, though, those kinds of accomplishments won’t be enough for Grand Meadow this year. Before the Minnesota State High School League voted Oct. 1 to not allow fall state tournaments, the Larks had their sights on not just getting to state this season (they were eliminated in the quarterfinals in 2019), but winning it. With a senior-heavy roster and one loaded with speed and athleticism, winning it didn’t seem out of the question. Grand Meadow coach Gary Sloan feels great about his quarterback. Not only is senior Evan Oehlke in his third year as a starter, but he looks more formidable than ever after committing heavily to the weight room in the offseason. Oehlke has added 15 pounds and is now up to 6-feet, 185. Sloan says he is willing and able to run over opposing defenders. Grand Meadow returns three players who were all-district last year, senior linemen Cameron Sneed and Ben Kraft, and junior running back/defensive back Dusty Copley. Copley and senior receiver/defensive back Luke Speer give Sloan two of the fastest players he’s coached.
HEAD COACH GARY SLOAN
Coach Sloan, 57, has been the Superlarks head coach since 1993 and served as an assistant in the program for eight seasons prior to that. The Ellendale native is a Winona State University graduate. Grand Meadow has qualified for the state tournament eight times since Sloan took over as head coach, including winning four consecutive state championships from 2013-16.
Seniors: Luke Speer (WR/DB), Evan Oehlke (QB/DB), Blake Ludemann (WR/DB), Daniel Smith (RB/LB), Cameron Sneed (G/DT), Christian Jacobsen (C/DE), Ethan Kassel (WR/DB), Christian Jacobson (C/DE), Dekota Steinkamp (RB/DB), Connor Furth (G/DT), Ben Kraft (TE/DE).
Juniors: Wesley Soltau (C/LB), Jacob Kerrins (WR/DB), Xander Stejskal (C/DT), Carter Mueller (TE/DE), Dustin Copley (RB/DB), Nils Lee (TE/DB), Alex Stevens (G/DT), Taylor Glyunn (TE/LB), Jasen Gehling (RB/DB), Chase Tangen (WR/DB), Cole Start (TE/DE), Riley Paul (G/DT).
Sophomores: Cameron Nesbitt (RB/LB), Jace Kraft (WR/DB), Connor Munson (QB/DB), Cael Gilbert (QB/DB), James Jacobsen (G/LB), Isaac Harmening (RB/DB), Lexon Clark (G/DT), Zac Shorter (C/DT).
Freshmen: Corbin Ludemann (RB/DB), Ethan Woodworth (WR/DE), Cole Weiss (WR/DB), Tyler Reid (TE/LB), Carter Fruth (G/DT), Colton Gardner (G/DT), Aaron Mork (G/DT).
The Cardinals came out of nowhere to have a breathtaking season a year ago. L-O went 9-1 in 2019, its lone loss a 44-18 upset loss to Houston the Section One semifinals. The Cardinals graduated some dynamic pieces to that team, including Carter Johnson, Riley Olson and Tanner Kasel. Still, L-O won’t be starting over as it returns stars Isaac Collier and Chase Johnson, both of them all-district players a year ago. Johnson was the most dynamic of the bunch, with “Chase” an appropriate first name for him. Johnson was often impossible to track down for defenses, turning apparent losses into big gains. He’s just 5-7, 150 pounds, but that didn’t stop him from being his district’s Back of the Year.
HEAD COACH TREVOR CARRIER
Carrier is in his second season as the Cardinals head coach after six seasons as the offensive coordinator at LeRoy-Ostrander. Carrier has previously served as a head boys basketball coach at L-O and is a fifth grade teacher at the elementary school. He guided the Cardinals to a 9-1 record last season.
Seniors: Andrew Lohuis (WR/DB), George Bird (OL/LB/FB), Issac Collier (RB/LB), Brodi Nesler (WR/DB), Lucas Winfield (RB/LB), Jeremiah Weiss (OL/DL)
Juniors: Chase Johnson (QB/S), Gavin Sweeny (C/DE), Morgan Jasper (OL/DL), Tanner Olson (TE/DE), Hayden Sass (OL/DL), Memphiz Gomez (OL/LB)
Sophomores: Tristan Lewison (WR/DB), Xander Farlinger (WR/DB), Layne Bird (QB/WR/DB), Ethan Nagel (OL/DL), Peyton Roe (RB/LB), Christopher Knode (TE/DE), Mason Jasper (OL/DL), Dane Schumann (OL/DL). Freshman: Malyk Schaefer (OL/DL)
There’s a new man in charge in Spring Grove, Kody Moore. Moore takes over as Lions head football coach, with Zach Hauser having stepped down. Hauser made a big impact at Spring Grove, guiding the Lions to back-to-back state championships in 2017 and 2018. He did that with the help of Moore, who served as his offensive coordinator since 2014. Caden Grinde is one of the top receivers around and throwing to him for the second straight year will be Isaac Griffin. Moore sees Griffin as an ideal fit for his system with his dual-threat capabilities. Mitchell Reynolds returns at running back for Spring Grove. The questions for this team reside up front. “If we can step in and be physical up front, we hope to be able to compete for the section title,” Moore said. Tristan Hammel anchors the Spring Grove line.
The Rebels were sailing along beautifully last season until injuries effectively took their season away. Southland was 4-0 and ranked No. 3 in the state after a 24-13 win Sept. 21. But then the ravaging began. By the time the season was done, four two-way starters were missing due to injuries. Southland finished 6-3. This season the Rebels are healthy and full of promise. One of the key players back is coach Shawn Kennedy’s son Brendan Kennedy, a 5-9, 185-pound junior and excellent athlete. He’ll play running back and middle linebacker. Southland’s offensive backfield is loaded. There is 6-0, 210-pound Nick Boe; 5-9, 190-pound Noah Sayles and returning starting quarterback Harrison Hanna, who throws with precision. They’ll also get plenty of heavy lifting from Karter Jax, a 6-0, 240-pound two-way lineman. Kennedy is also optimistic about lineman Christian Luthe. The 6-0, 260-pound lineman squats 500 pounds and bench presses 330. Southland also has one of the best kickers in southeastern Minnesota in Ethan Forthun.
HEAD COACH SHAWN KENNEDY
Kennedy is in his 17th season at Southland and his 32nd season of coaching football. Kennedy took over as the Rebels’ head coach in 2006. Prior to joining Southland’s staff, the Rochester Mayo High School graduate held two coaching positions in South Dakota.
Seniors: Dan Boe (TE/FS), Ethan Forthun (TE/DE), Nick Boe (RB/LB), Noah Sayles (FB/DL), Karter Jax (OL/DL), Wayde Pederson (OL/DL), Ethan Wilking (OL/DL).
Juniors: Harrison Hanna (QB/DB), Isaac Mullenbach (TE/DB), Eli Wolff (WR/DB), Brendan Kennedy (RB/LB), Christian Luthe (OL/DL), Connor Edlund (OL/DL).
Sophomores: Isaac Felten (QB/DB), Ethan Stern (FB/LB).
Freshmen: Sam Boe (TE/LB), Riley Jax (WR/DB), Gavin Nelsen (RB/DB), Noah Bauer (QB/DB), Odear Grale (WR/DB), Jonas Wiste (RB/DB), Carter Erie (RB/DL), Braxten Wiste (TE/DB), Cody Krull (FB/LB), Cash Day (OL/LB), Travis Kirtz (OL/DL), Bradley Logerstedt (OL/DL).
The Hurricanes aren’t completely starting over, but it’s close. Houston graduated seven starters from last year’s team, which went 7-4 and averaged 32 points per game. The Hurricanes are doing lots of shifting of positions to make things work. The two most prominent shifts are Logan Rodriguez going from center and tight end to fullback and Caden Olson from tight end to running back. Houston also has a new quarterback, Isaac Heyer, an option guy with good speed who will particularly help Houston’s running game. On defense, the 5-10, 185-pound Olson returns at linebacker where he was the defensive Most Valuable Player in his district. Houston looks good up front, led by two big guys, Curtis Chapel and Colton Halverson. Both are in the 280-pound range.
There are two players who give first-year Kingsland coach Matt Kolling considerable hope. They are senior Devin Carr and junior James Howard. Both are excellent athletes. Carr was the team’s leading receiver last year and has great speed and hands. Howard, regarded as a relentless worker, is also a speedster. Not much went right for the Kingsland football team in 2019. The Knights finished 1-8 overall while averaging 14 points and giving up 41.2 per game. Their lone win came against Lyle/Pacelli. Kolling believes this season will be different. After putting in lots of work on the team’s speed and conditioning in the offseason, the first-year head coach is excited about what’s to come. Other top Kingsland players figure to be junior quarterback/safety Kaden Rath, sophomore tight end/defensive end Mason Kolling (6-feet-4, 215 pounds), and senior running back/defensive back Ethan Imm.
HEAD COACH MATT KOLLING
Kolling takes over as head coach this season for Brett Stinson, who resigned after four seasons as Kingsland’s coach. Kolling is a Kingsland graduate, who helped the Knights reach the state tournament in 1995.
Seniors: Ethan Imm (RB/CB), Hunter Lee (TE/LB), William Jahn (Utility), Devin Carr (WR/CB), Calvin Jeno (G/DT), Colin Tomzak (G/DT), Keaton Schmidt (G/DT), Dylan Mlinar (WR/CB), Dakota Hamand (RB/LB).
Juniors: Bret Musel (G/DT), Hunter Mundfrom (G/DT), Nick Eickhoff (Utility), James Howard (RB/DE), Thomas Warren (G/DT), Andrew Ramaker (C/DT), Kaden Rath (QB/S).
Sophomores: Mason Kolling (TE/DE), Braton McCaslin (G/DT), Cole Krugel (WR/CB), Kale Mensink (QB/LB), Vincent Giebel (RB/LB), Mike Watson (C/LB), Ethan Schleusner (RB/CB).
Freshmen: Gavin Aarsvold (WR/CB), Noah House (RB/DE), Conner Tangen (RB/LB), Courtland DeBoer (G/DT), Jackson Rowe (WR/CB), Sam Snitker (QB/CB), Ayden Howard (RB/DE), Adele Kohn (RB/CB), Noah Mundfrom (C/DT), Cameron Asher (WR/LB), Beau Wiersma (RB/LB).
The biggest obstacle for the Cougars is simply learning how to win again. M-C finished 0-9 last year. The Cougars’ last winning season was in 2016. Gavin Johnson gives M-C an excellent player to turn to. The 6-2, 195-pound senior ran for 1,000 yards the last two years. He’ll play fullback and linebacker and was all-District last year. Also returning is quarterback Jack Arneson, who also lines up at defensive back. Colton Hientz-Kuderer is a two-way lineman who is 5-10, 190; Randy Gerard a two-way lineman (5-11, 230), and Brady Yoder a two-way lineman. Alex Arneson, twin brother of Jack Arneson, also has size. The outside linebacker is 190 pounds.
HEAD COACH KARL URBANIAK
Karl Urbaniak has been at Mabel-Canton since 1985. The Minot (N.D.) State University graduate has stops that include Mankato State University, Western Michigan, as well as high school coaching jobs in Edinburg, N.D., and Battle Creek, Mich.
Seniors: Jack Arneson (QB/DB), Reid Crawford (RB/DB), Randy Gerard (OL/DL), Colton Hientz/Kuderer (OL/DL), Gavin Johnson (RB/DL), Brady Yoder (OL/LB).
Juniors: Jaymeson Tollefsrud (RB/DB), Alex Arneson (OL/LB), James Arneson (OL/LB), Owen Underbakke (OL/LB).
Sophomores: Matt McClimon (OL/DL), Jordan Larson (QB/DB), Kaiser Soiney (RB/DL), Dawson Kleiboer (RB/DB), Robert Michels (OL/DL), Jeremiah Schneekloth (OL/DL)
Freshmen: Cayden Tollefsrud (RB/DB), Hayden Erickson (OL/DL), Tristen Marchetti (RB/DB).
Eighth grade: Tyler Larson (QB/LB).
Lanesboro, which finished 3-6 last year, is feeling quite good about a couple of things: The number of athletes it has out for football (42) and its defense. The Burros were relatively stingy on defense last year and figure to be even better now, with such standouts as Ben Snyder (6-2, 190), Bodie Meyer (6-3, 240), Jack Gathje (5-10, 170), JT Ryan (5-11, 180) and Seth Semmen (6-2, 200) returning. The Burros graduated just one part-time starter on defense. Snyder and Meyer were both all-conference players. Also returning is Caden Anderson, a senior who played little last year due to a knee injury. The state-qualifying wrestler is healthy now and was an honorable-mention all-conference choice as a sophomore. Offensively, Ryan (running back) is a junior who has been starting since his freshman year and Semmen, an excellent and big athlete is set to make the change from running back to quarterback.
HEAD COACH JAMES SEMMEN
Semmen is in his 19th season as the Burros’ head coach and his 22nd season of coaching at Lanesboro. The Peterson native is a graduate of Winona State University. The Burros have reached state three times under Semmen – 2005, 2006 and 2010 (when they finished as state runners-up).
Seniors: Devin Troendle (OL/NT), Wilson Storhoff (WR/CB), Ben Snyder (TE/DE), Blake Reinhardt (OL/DL), Austin Moen (WR/S), Bodin Mayer (OL/DE), Ryan Kelly (WR/CB), Sawyer Johnson (TE/LB), Ryan Holmen (OL/DL), Jake Gathje (HB/CB), Cale Anderson (WR/CB), Caden Anderson (WR/S).
Juniors: Bodie Wright (TE/DE), Seth Semmen (QB/LB), Clay Schwichtenberg (OL/NT), Trevor Ruen (C/DL), Adam Ruen (WR/CB), JT Rein (HB/LB), Jordan Peterson (TE/DE), Jacob Peterson (OL/DL), Carter Clakre (TE/DE), Reece Benson (QB/LB), Will Asleson (OL/DL).
Sophomores: Logan Torgerson (TE/DE), Brock Taylor (OL/DL), Parker Storhoff (WR/CB), Stephan Schultz (C/DL), Orion Sass (HB/LB), Peyton Olson (TE/D), Hayden Lawstuen (FB/LB), Carter Hovland (FB/LB), Cody Gray (OL/DL), Cooper Ferrie (OL/DL).
Freshmen: Boston Wright (FB/LB), Reuben Swartzentruber (OL/DL), Kaden Stettler (WR/LB), Luke Ruen (WR/S), Michael Rein (FB/LB), Caden Johnson (OL/DL), Mason Howard (QB/CB), Will Harvey (WR/CB).