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"Where Fillmore County News Comes First"
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Fall Football Preview

Mon, Aug 25th, 2014
Posted in All Sports

The 2014 football campaign will be marked by a couple new developments. It’s year two, and paradoxically, the final year of the Southern Football Alliance. The change that began last year is already set to be phased out. The Minnesota State High School League has mandated all football (9-man included) to go to ‘District’ (and sub-district) style play in 2015. Doing so (among other things) ensures all teams have full schedules and a full slate of in-state games. Chatfield and Caledonia will move into a district featuring bigger schools (other AA plus AAA teams). They’ll no longer play any of their SFA Blue adversaries (all Class A). Meanwhile in the SEC, Randolph, a district just west of Cannon Falls, has joined the league, giving it nine teams for football. Their arrival means the SEC schedule will start on August 22nd, just like the SFA. SEC teams, like SFA teams, will thus have a ‘zero’ week and a ‘bye’ week. Every game will be of the conference variety and sets of schools won’t play each other twice (as was the case in an 8-team SEC). In another big departure from normal, for the first time in the Fillmore County Journal Sports era, a team enters a season as defending state champions.

Chatfield Gophers

Chatfield’s football team had an epic 2013. They went 13-1 on the season, finishing second (7-1) to Caledonia in the SFA Blue. Chatfield ran off six straight play-off wins. They downed the Warriors, ending their 36-game win streak, to claim the Section 1AA title. A trio of impressive wins at the state level then claimed the Gophers their first Prep Bowl since 1996. All that makes 2014 encore time for Jeff Johnson’s crew. Chatfield should still have the phrase ‘contender’ etched next to their name. The Gophers return a number of key assets. Drew Hurley (6’1” 190 Sr. TE/S) and Ian Morrison (6’2” 245 Sr. OL/DL) each were All-Conference a season ago. Hurley is a third-year two-way starter. In the backfield, Alex Bradt (5’11” 180 Sr. RB/LB) was critical in 2013, notching a pair of 100 yard rushing games at the state level. Guys like Ryan Meeker (5’8” 165 Sr. RB/DB) and Carter Duxbury (6’2” 190 Jr. RB/LB) also saw carries. Duxbury was key in the post-season as a play-making linebacker. Throw in third year starter Tommy Jech (6’0” 230 Sr. OL/DL), T.J. Moechnig (6’2” 180 Sr. OL/DE), Hank Friederichs (5’7” 160 Sr. OL/DL), and Ethan Wright (5’11” 175 Sr. RB/LB), plus a number of guys who saw action in the litany of 2013 blowouts, and Chatfield has a talented and experienced nucleus. They have holes to fill. Ten seniors, including next level guys, Jake Neis (UW Eau Claire), Jayme LaPlante (MSU-Mankato), and Nate Skare (Upper Iowa), graduated. For the first time in three years, Chatfield’s quarterback won’t be the later. Senior Ben Pierce (6’1” 180) gets the early nod. But with 30 total upperclassmen, and a lot of the positive mojo after having sent boys teams to state all three sports seasons in 2013, another great season should be in the works. A lot more will be known after games two and six. Chatfield travels to R-P August 29th, then hosts Caledonia September 26th.

Rushford-Peterson Trojans

Davin Thompson’s R-P Trojans also know a little bit about winning. The green and gold have been just behind the Gophers, and Caledonia, the past two years. They finished third in the Blue Division with a 6-2 record in 2013. The year ended a bit abruptly (6-3) though. The injury belittled 2-seed Trojans were upended in the first round of the 1A play-offs by Southland. R-P will look to wipe that taste out of their mouths in 2014. The Trojans will boast 18 seniors, a very experienced and gifted group of skill guys. Play-makers Alex Vix (5’9” 160 RB/DB) and Cole Kingsley (6’0” 170 RB/DB) are each two-time All-Conference selections. Vix racked up over 900 offensive yards with eight total TDs and five interceptions last season. Kingsley totaled just under 500 offensive yards with ten total TD’s and four interceptions. Quarterback Jonnie Koenen (5’10” 160 Sr) is in his third year as the Trojans starter. Throw in speedy sophomore Noah Carlson (6’0” 160 RB/DB > 500 offensive yards, seven total TDs) and R-P has weaponry. Vix, Kingsley, and Carlson each returned kick-offs for TD’s in 2013. Seniors Josh Agrimson (6’0” 190 OL/LB), Kyler Paulson (6’3” 225 OL/DL), Josh Brown (5’10” 195 C/LB), Bryant Weidemann (6’1” 160 WR/DB), and Charlie Krambeer (6’0” 150 WR/DB) were also substantial parts of the 2013 campaign. The Trojans would’ve had a third A-C returnee, senior Zach Ansell (5’11” 215). But the lineman won’t play due to a recurring knee injury. It’s a blow. But the Trojans should still be a team to reckon with. R-P’s metal will be tested early. They hook up with Chatfield game two on August 29th. They then travel to Caledonia a week later on September 5th.

Lanesboro Burros

It’s officially over. The Niko Anderson era of football in Burro-land is over. The splendid tailback moves on (University of St. Thomas) after helping Lanesboro to four winning seasons including a state runner-up in 2010. In 2013, James Semmen’s boys went 6-1 in the SEC, good enough for a shared conference title with Spring Grove and Grand Meadow. The Burros won seven-straight at one point, including a huge winner over the eventual 9-man state champion Super Larks. But GM ended the Burros’ season at 8-2 with a win in the Section semifinals. In 2014, things look promising again, even despite the departure of Anderson, and five other key seniors. The orange and black will sport a 2014 senior crew numbered at 13. The coach’s son Will Semmen heads the cast. He was All-Conference at safety a year ago. The 6’0” 175-pounder projects at starting QB too, a role he played some as both a sophomore and junior. Tylar Miller (5’10” 175 RB/LB) and Liam Dorn (6’0” 210 RB/LB) are couple key returning running backs/linebackers. Jereal Eddy (6’2” 180 C/DE), Matt Luck (5’10” 200 TE/LB), and Jeremy Hanson (5’9” 215 FB/LB), plus junior Cory Mensink (6’0” 245 OL/DL), are also returning starters. Lanesboro’s got some size, including a trio of juniors in the 250 range. That size, even despite Anderson’s departure, means the Burros will again churn out yards mainly on the ground. If recent status quo holds true, Lanesboro’s big weeks of the season will be late in the year. They host Landon Jacobson and GM game five (Sept. 26th) and then Spring Grove game eight (Oct. 10th). None of those three schools have finished below fourth in any of the last four SEC campaigns.

Fillmore Central Falcons

In Harmony, the Falcons are coming off a middle-of-the-road season in 2013. FC finished 3-5 in the SFA Blue (three-way tie for fifth). They triumphed over Goodhue in the post-season, last second style, before bowing to Blooming Prairie in the 1A semifinals. Behind 16 seniors, FC finished 4-6. Head Coach Chris Mensink won’t have the luxury of so many experienced upperclassmen in 2014. The Falcons have 15 juniors and seniors combined. Five of his six seniors are returning starters though. All are offensive skill players; Bryce Whitehill (5’9” 170 QB/LB), Dylan Bathke (5’8” 155 RB/CB), Jordan Miller (5’9” 140 WR/CB), Gatlin Woellert (5’10” 170 RB/LB), and Nick Mensink (6’0” 175 TE/DE). Junior Tyson Ristau (6’1” 170 RB/LB) is also back as a key defensive player and FC’s top returning rusher (372 yards, 2 TDs). The lines are where FC will need to regroup the most. Three of the Falcons’ four graduated 2013 All-Conference players were lineman. Some of the regrouping may well be done with underclassmen. The Falcons are small, weight-wise, in there junior and senior classes. And while the upper classes are a little small numbers-wise too, that future looks larger. Fillmore Central has 17 sophomores and 17 freshman out for football. The team as a whole doesn’t come out of the gate in small fashion. Game one is at Chatfield on August 22nd, game two versus Caledonia on the 29th.

Houston Hurricanes

Houston’s whirl-winders enter the season coming off what had to be a frustrating 2013 campaign. The ‘Canes began the year with 17 seniors. But they lost top returning RB Tyler Hoskins to injury in the pre-season, then dropped a trio of nail biters right out of the gate. Meteorological conditions were right for Houston to rally. They won four of their next six, including a first round play-off game over Mabel-Canton, before bowing to Spring Grove in the Section 1 9-man semifinals, finishing 4-6. The 2014 season begins with a new coach, Dale Moga, and a solid group of returning players given the mass graduation. All-Conference lineman Nathan Hahn heads the cast. The big fella (6’3” 285 Sr. OL/DL) should anchor Houston’s lines (defensive in particular) with fellow full-time returning big guy Sam Schneider (6’2” 260 Sr. OL/DL). Hunter Laschenski (6’2” 170 Sr.) projects as starting QB (DB), a roll he filled four times in 2013. Christian Conley (5’8” 200 RB/LB), Carter Chiglo (5’6” 170 RB/LB), and Brett Hoskins (5’10” 170 WR/DB) are three other players who got multiple starts on both sides of the ball as juniors in 2013. Nathan Lee (5’10” 145 WR/LB), Trevor Lundberg (6’0” 210 DL/OL), and Garrett Thornton-Paulson (5’8” 180 OL/LB) are a trio of key juniors. The red and white have six seniors (all mentioned above), seven juniors, and three sophomores on their varsity roster. Over the last four years, Houston has gone a collective 17-21 with no winning seasons. But they’ve won at least four games every year dating back to 2005. This group of ‘Cane’s will look find the plus side of the road again starting with opening games versus LeRoy-Ostrander and at Spring Grove.

Mabel-Canton Cougars

Similar to Houston, Karl Urbaniak’s Mabel-Canton Cougars have been middle of the road as of late. Over the past four years, they’ve posted a collective 16-21 record. Included was 2013’s 4-5 effort. M-C was five-hundred (4-4) to end the regular season. They earned a home play-off game, only to fall the Hurricanes. The Cougars graduated six seniors including their starting QB and top two RB’s (Hunter Johnson). They enter 2014 with seven seniors, a cast headed by returnees Keyser Wenthold (5’7” 145 RB/DB) and Donnie Lind (6’1” 180 TE/LB). Wenthold is a speedy and elusive runner, Lind an adept receiver down the middle. Jon Selness (5’10” 155 QB/DB) and Dustin Kerns (5’10” 165 OL/LB) are also returning senior letter-winners. M-C gains three seniors (QB Wesley Richert, OL/DL Bailey Vickerman, OL/DL Ross McKenna) who weren’t out a year ago. Richert and Selness look to vie for the starting QB job. The Coug’s also have experienced players all the way back to their freshman class; Alex Mengis (5’11” 215 Jr. OL/DL), Mitch Kuhn (5’10” 145 Jr. RB/DB), Wayne Ross (5’9” 165 So. RB/LB), Weston Whalen (5’9” 165 So. OL/DB), and Pierce Lind (5’10” 175 Fr. OL/DL). All told, M-C’s freshman thru senior tally is 28 (with one 8th grader). That’s up from last year (18). Numbers always help. M-C will begin to see where they stack up by taking the long trip to Randolph August 22nd, then hosting Lyle/Pacelli the 29th.

Kingsland Knights

Two-thousand thirteen was a forgettable campaign for the Kingsland Knights. They haven’t won since 2012. They enter 2014 on a dubious 16-game losing streak. One win over the last two years isn’t the worst two-season span in school history. They went 0-for the ’07 and ’08 seasons. The Knights will look to regroup in 2014. Starting the season with better numbers should help. After a 25-man nine-thru-twelve varsity in 2013, they have 37 this year. That includes a double-bump in the senior class, from just four to nine. Jacob Rindels (6’1” 180 QB/DB), Chase Ganser (5’10” 215 RB/LB), Marcus Plaehn (6’3” 180 WR/DB), and Josh Bradley (6’5” 175 WR/DB) return at skill positions, Julius Wolf (6’3” 235 OL/DL) and Allen Junge (6’2” 230 OL/DL) on the lines. From the junior class, Quinn Larson (6’0” 175 WR/DB), JJ Fenske (5’10” 180 RB/LB), Logan Back (5’7” 145 RB/DB), Eayn O’Byrne (5’10” 180 RB/LB), and Cody Krahn (6’1” 195 OL/DL) are also experienced. Larson was last year’s QB, but Rindels looks to be this year’s. There is a new vibe in Spring Valley under new head coach, former assistant, Andrew Brouwer. Expecting a winning season, something that hasn’t happened since 2006, might be a bit much. But taking it game by game and finding that win column is a start. Kingsland’s first opportunities will be August 22nd versus R-P and the 29th at Hayfield.

20th Annual Chatfield Western Days Stampede Results

> 2-mile Top 15: 1) Mike Gjere (52 years old) 12:12; 2) Brian Nolan (45) 12:22; 3) Alex Paulson (20) 12:26; 4) Dillon Bance (15) 12:43; 5) Jen St. Amand (40) 13:02; 6) Tom Woo (55) 13:07; 7) Jeff Boland (36) 13:09; 8) Kevin Bradt (15) 13:22; 9) Nick Maki (15) 13:32; 10) Andrew Gathje (16) 13:36; 11) Marv Misgen (48) 13:51; 12) Jeff Judd (28) 14:28; 13) Hank Friederichs (17) 14:28; 14) Justin Friedrich (18) 14:29; 15) Alysa Manahan (12) 14:49.

> 10-K Top 15: 1) Adam Frye (30) 35:46; 2) Dallas Davidson (24) 36:56; 3) Mike Gjere (52) 39:43; 4) Alex Paulson (20) 41:17; 5) Jeff Boland (36) 41:42; 6) Jen St. Amand (40) 42:38; 7) Too Woo (55) 42:39; 8) Keagen Clarke (17) 43:12; 9) Nels Pierson III (41) 43:31; 10) Justin Friedrich (18) 44:03; 11) Jared Pearson (37) 44:24; 12) William Baker (33) 44:36; 13) Isaac Fingerson (15) 44:39; 14) Marv Misgen (48) 46:20; 15) Kenneth Hutton (49) 47:08.

> Group Champions: Adam Frye (Men’s Overall); Jen St. Amand (Women’s Overall), Bennett Gathje (Men’s 10-14), Keagan Clarke (Men’s 15-19), Karen Gomez-Ruiz (Women’s 15-19), Dallas Davidson (Men’s 20-29), Kristin Johnson (Women’s 20-29), Jeff Boland (Men’s 30-39), Kristi Ramaker (Women’s 30-39), Nels Pierson III (Men’s 40-49), Michelle Peterson (Women’s 40-49), Mike Gjere (Men’s 50-59), Sarah Melde (Women’s 50-59), Gordy Strickland (Men’s 60-60).


Your comment submission is also an acknowledgement that this information may be reprinted in other formats such as the newspaper.


11:00:14, Aug 25th 2014

wtf says:
Your article on Preston fastpitch wins big. The under 15 age takes 2nd.. There r two kids on that team that are not under 15. Logan and Matt. Bunch of cheaters!


7:33:35, Aug 27th 2014

KingslandGrad95 says:
wtf, why did you make that comment on a story regarding high school football??


10:35:47, Sep 2nd 2014

wtf says:
Because I can! At least I don't sit and argue with people like you do mister no it all! Lol


7:01:20, Sep 3rd 2014

youwho says:
Dear wtf, I can attest that Logan and Matt are within the rules of the league which state that you must be 15 on June 1st (2014). This rule applies to all of the age groups. If you don't know the rules, please refrain from commenting and name calling.


3:41:04, Sep 5th 2014

justdontgetit says:
The one kid was 15. He had his permit so that makes him 15. And it says under 15


7:38:46, Sep 5th 2014

youwho says:
Dear Justdontgetit,

15U does not mean under 15 years old. It does mean 15 years old and under as it does in all sports. If you don't know this, you obviously don't have much experience with youth tournaments or sports yet. It is also very clearly stated in the league rules that you play according to the age you are on June 1st of that year. So someone who is 15 on June 1st is the correct LEGAL age for playing 15U.

Please learn and understand the league rules before calling out other teams and players as cheaters. If you have questions, ask your coach to explain them to you.

Hopefully now you will get it.


6:11:27, Sep 5th 2014

justdontgetit says:
The one kid turned 15 in Nov. Of 2013


7:17:52, Sep 6th 2014

youwho says:
Which would make him 15 on June 1st, 2014. The correct age to play 15U for the 2014 season. Are you math-challenged? 15 on June 1st makes all kids the right age to play in this age group.

It's getting very old to have all the whiners and complainers in our league when no one bothers to learn and understand the rules.


9:54:10, Sep 6th 2014

KingslandGrad95 says:
youwho, I couldn't agree with you more. There are people out there who could be presented with all the facts and figures and they will still say that "no, you're wrong and what I think is right in my mind is the correct answer."


3:39:25, Sep 6th 2014

doc says:
Sounds like a young republican.


7:37:46, Sep 6th 2014

KingslandGrad95 says:
doc, was that comment really needed? Just because I said that same thing to a comment you made? Yes, I'm a young republican but one that actually went to college without being brainwashed by liberal college professors and one who is realistic. Anyone who has taken a statistics class, which I did when I was college, knows that facts and figures can be skewed to prove one person's point of view, even if said facts and figures can show something entirely different to someone else.

Doc, you just keep on believing what you believe to be the truth and I'll keep on believing what I believe to be the truth. If you're thinking you need to have some sort of witty rebuttal in an attempt to lure me into a drawn-out conversation that has nothing to do with a story of local high school football, save your breath and your fingers. If you do comment back, I'm not going to waste my time by responding.