For the second straight season, it is a mostly inexperienced Spring Grove football squad, following last year’s 7-3 crew who achieved a 10th straight winning season. Eight of 16 letter winners return, but only four with starting experience on offense and defense. The kicking game is the most experienced unit for new head coach Kody Moore, who takes the reins after the retirement of 13-year head coach Zach Hauser (110-33). It will be a smooth transition with the rest of the staff coming back. Moore has been the offensive coordinator for the previous six seasons, including two state championship campaigns.
The Lions bring back All-District receiver/safety/punter/kick returner/PAT holder Caden Grinde (6’4”, 170), who led the sub-district in receptions and was second in receiving yards. The Lion MVP was the team’s second leading tackler. Honorable Mention All-District Isaac Griffin (6’1”, 165) also returns but will playing different positions.
Last fall at running back, now senior Mitchell Reynolds (5’8”, 170) averaged 8.2 yards per carry while rushing for 956 yards, despite missing time with an injury. Last year’s Rookie of the Year, sophomore Hunter Holland (5’8”, 155) stepped in as a freshman and gained 190 yards (7.9 ypc).
Isaac Griffin moves from slot receiver to quarterback. SG aired 234 passes last year, but only 6 thrown by backup Griffin, who was busy catching 35 passes while leading the team in scoring (57) and kicked a 28-yarder with his only field goal attempt. Caden Grinde returns at one wide receiver post while sophomore brother Tysen Grinde (6’1”, 160) and junior Reid Bjerke (6’1”, 180) are leading candidates for the other two wideout positions. Athletic sophomore Caleb Griffin (5’9”, 145) is another promising possibility.
The most likely pass catchers/blockers at tight end are freshman Elijah Solum (6’1”, 175) and sophomore Logan Brumm (5’11”, 200). Solum is also the backup quarterback after passing for 735 yards and 8 touchdowns during four B-team games last autumn.
The interior line returns only one starter, senior guard Tristan Hammel (5’11”, 175). Possibilities at the other guard position are Brumm, junior Cameron Kraus (6’1”, 175) and freshman Ethan Crouch (6’3”, 215). Look for sophomore Ty Cleven (6’0”, 220) to snap the ball both on offense and for placekicks, backed up by sophomore Cooper Olson (6’1”, 260). Cleven was last year’s Scout Team Player of the Year.
Hammel is back at defensive end while Caden Grinde moves from safety to center linebacker and Isaac Griffin moves from cornerback to safety. Holland has some starting experience at linebacker with Solum and Brumm best bets for the third linebacking post.
Again restocking the line is the primary task. Vying to join Hammel are Cleven, Kraus, Crouch and sophomore Noah Blackburn (5’10”, 235).
At the two cornerback positions, expect to see Tysen Grinde and Bjerke along with Caleb Griffin and Reynolds.
Holland kicked off last year while Caden Grinde returns as punter and kick returner as well as holder for placekicker Isaac Griffin. The lone vacancy is deep snapper where Cleven steps in.
The lineup includes of 5 seniors and only 2 juniors. Two-thirds of the roster is younger with 7 sophomores and 7 freshmen. In addition to Solum and Crouch, freshman hopefuls are quarterback Jaxon Strinmoen (6’1”, 140), Jacob Olerud (5’9”, 145) and Braedon Solie (5’4”, 120) plus linemen Josh Newgaard (6’4”, 240) and Austin Conway (6’0”, 200).
Kickers and running backs return, and the new quarterback is a triple threat (running, passing, placekicking). Blocking by a mostly inexperienced offensive line will be the key to both rushing and passing success. On defense, line play again plus additional inexperience at corner back will be determinant. However, the abbreviated six-game regular season will allow for less time than usual for youth to develop.
With last year’s rebuilt lineup, the Lions outscored the opposition by an average of only three points per game (26-23), but they forged a 7-3 record by coming through in late-game situations to win close games. Eight of the 10 games were decided during the fourth quarter. It will again be a significantly restocked roster, attempting to exhibit similar poise when the game is on the line.
The abbreviated six-game schedule will not allow for a sub-district championship during the regular-season. There will be playoffs to crown a section champion, but no state tournament. All six Lion opponents are sub-district rivals, including section powerhouse Grand Meadow in week two.
SPRING GROVE FOOTBALL 2020… (last year)………. SERIES RECORD since 1949
Sat., Oct. 10 Houston, 4 p.m…………(SG won 29-22)…..SG leads series 40-30 w/ 2 ties
Fri., Oct. 16 at Grand Meadow…….(SG lost 7-21 & 14-24)….. GM leads series 33-10
Fri., Oct. 23 Lanesboro………………..(SG won 21-12)……SG leads series 27-21 w/3 ties
Fri., Oct. 30 at Kingsland……………..(SG won 46-18)……….SG leads series 1-0
Sat., Nov. 7 at Lyle/Pacelli (Lyle) 1 p.m…(SG won 20-14)….SG leads series 16-2
Thurs., Nov. 12 Mabel-Canton………(SG won 42-22)…………M-C leads series 36-24
Lions do not play Southland or LeRoy-Ostrander
7 p.m. kickoff unless noted
Lions the Last 6 Seasons
2019……7-3 (5-2 dist. 3rd)
2018*….14-0 (7-0 dist. 1st)
2017*…14-0 (7-0 East, 1st)
2016……9-2 (7-1 East, 2nd)
2015……9-2 (7-1 East, 2nd)
2014…….9-2 (7-1 SEC, 2nd)
Total……62-9 (40-5 league)
*State champion, Section champ