Preseason Minnesota Volleyball rankings are out

Here are the first Minnesota volleyball preseason rankings of the year:

Class AAA Rankings
1. Eagan (8)
2. Prior Lake
3. Lakeville North
4. Stillwater
5. Champlin Park
6. Hopkins
7. East Ridge
8. Shakopee
9. Moorhead
​10. Blaine
Class AA Rankings
1. Maple Lake (8)
2. Stewartville
3. Kasson-Mantorville
4. Southwest Christian
5. Marshall
6. North Branch
7. Sauk Centre
8. Roseau
9. Totino-Grace
​10. Concordia
Class A Rankings
1. Mayer Lutheran (8)
2. Hayfield
3. Caledonia
4. Bethlehem Academy
5. Tracy-Milroy-Balaton
​6. Rush City
7. Mabel-Canton
8. Wadena-Deer Creek
9. Waterville-Elysian-Morristown
10. Underwood
Minnesota volleyyball

The first Minnesota volleyball rankings are out. Lots of good volleyball teams make their home in southeast Minnesota and we’ll have coverage on our website at bluffcountrynews.com. Spread the word for family and friends that live out of town.

Southeast Minnesota has several good teams in the Class A and Class AA rankings. The first official day of practice is August 14. Fall sports is basically upon us. Can’t wait to get going on the seasons again.

We’ll have lots of sports coverage in southeast Minnesota on our website, bluffcountrynews.com.

 

 

Minnesota Twins buying at the MLB trade deadline

So, I was thinking it was a bit unusual for the our Minnesota Twins to evidently be buyers as the Major League Baseball trade deadline approaches. They’ve supposedly all but done a deal for Jaime Garcia of the Atlanta Braves. I was excited about picking up a lefthander who could maybe eat up some innings. As you dig deeper, it looks like the Twins might need a refresher on how to be “buyers” rather than “sellers?”

MInnesota Twins

The Minnesota Twins are looking at Jaime Garcia as the MLB trade deadline approaches. Is a mediocre left-hander the answer to the team’s pitching woes? And if he is, he’s only here through the rest of the season. What gives? (Photo from riverablues.com)

The new regime in the Twin’s front office isn’t quite getting the whole “let’s improve our team at the trade deadline” principal. We’re just about to pick up the second Atlanta Braves pitching castoff (Bartolo Colon ring a bell? How’s that worked out?). The Atlanta lefty is 3-7 with a 4.33 ERA in 17 starts with the Braves. He’s not coming to Minnie on a hot streak either.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution sports section points out that Garcia was 1-2 with a hefty 7.45 ERA in his last five starts for the Braves who sit three games under .500 and 11 games behind the first place Nationals, the only team above .500 in a weak division.

The guy has been in the majors for parts of nine seasons, compiling a semi-decent record of 65-52 with a 3.65 ERA in 175 games, including 164 starts. Last season with the Cardinals was the first time in six seasons that the guy had made 20 starts. How does this help the Twins?

Minnesota Twins

Not content with one Atlanta Braves castoff in Bartolo Colon (who may be on the verge of retirement), the Minnesota Twins are now considering a trade for left-hander Jaime Garcia. What’s the priority here? (Photo from calltothepen.com)

Yes, our favorite ballclub has no quality depth after Ervin Santana and Jose Berrios. I understand that. The disappointing thing here is we aren’t adding Garcia for the long term. His contract is up at the end of the season. We’re parting with prospects for a rental player with a history of injuries (Tommy John surgery in 2008) and an inability to run out there every fifth day consistently.

The Twins pitching staff is bad after the top two starters. I get it. Garcia’s 4.33 ERA actually would be an improvement to our favorite team’s 3-4-5 starters. But he’s only going to be around through the end of the season. How does that fix the problem long term? This smells a lot like the hand of Jim Pohlad is in on this deal.

Thoughts? I can’t be the only one that misses good baseball in Minnesota? Anyone else think the 30-year celebrations of our World Series titles have grown stale? Kinda tired of living in the past:

 

MN high school baseball adopts pitch count

The pitch count is making its first official appearance in the Minnesota high school baseball season this spring. New rules have officially gone into effect that will limit the number of pitches high schoolers can throw during a given time period.

Of course, the goal is to protect the health of young arms. The total amount of pitches thrown in what is now a tiered system will dictate how much subsequent time they aren’t allowed to take the mound again. The new system also means a whole lot more paperwork for head coaches and a system of punishments if the new system is not followed.

Pitch count

Spring Grove baseball coach Chris Strinmoen, pictured here, is one of many high school baseball coaches that have to contend with all-new pitch count rules in effect this season, designed to help pitchers keep their arms healthier. (Photo from Bluff Country News Group)

“It started as a nationwide push to create pitch count policies,” said Spring Grove baseball coach Chris Strinmoen, “to protect the arms of all the youth. The Minnesota State High School League has adopted a policy that’s similar to other states.”

He said it’s a tiered system. The daily maximum a pitcher can throw is 105 pitches (which would then mean three days’ rest). For 30 pitches or less, kids are eligible to pitch again the next day. However, they can’t pitch more than two days in a row, so if a pitcher throws two days in a row, they sit the next day. Any time a pitcher gets above that 30-pitch total, then he’ll be looking at mandatory days off.

The next tier is 31-50 pitches, which require one day of rest. 51-75 pitches mean two days of rest from pitching. 76-105 pitches require three days off from pitching. If a pitcher does hit that 105-pitch count and they’re in the middle of pitching to a batter, they can finish pitching to that hitter. There’s a similar list in place for JV baseball but the pitch count limits are smaller in number.

“The days off are measured in calendar days,” he said, “and not the next 24 hours after a start. It’s not a new concept for coaches to keep track of pitch counts. Any good coach will be doing that to avoid injuries to his staff. The new system requires that someone be in the dugout with the sole task of keeping track of their pitchers as well as the other teams, just to make sure the other squad isn’t bending the rules.”

Coaches are required to enter pitch counts into the high school league website within 24 hours after the end of each game.

 

Yellowjackets baseball wants more consistency

It’s been more of an up-and-down season than Rochester Community and Technical College Yellowjackets baseball coach Steve Hucke would like. The team is 12-12 on the season, including a trip down south to play against some very good competition.

The early season strength of the Yellowjackets has been pitching. The batting order is still looking for a little more consistency, but Hucke said they’ve got the talent to hit the ball well. They’ve also been bitten by the injury bug.

Yellowjackets baseball

RCTC baseball coach Steve Hucke says he’s looking for more consistency from the Yellowjackets, who are 12-12 on the season going into their next action on Thursday, April 13, with a home doubleheader at 2 and 4:00. (article from wn.news.com)

“Our record says we’re .500 and that’s kind of how we’ve been playing,” Hucke said. “We’ll come out one day and play really tough and look really good. For some reason, we’ll come back and I don’t know if we’re satisfied with that or what. I’m happy with the wins but I’m not satisfied with being .500 because I think we’re a better team than that.”

The Yellowjackets baseball team had a  big question mark coming into the season, which was pitching. The team had to replace some good arms from last season but they’ve had some good kids step up and fill some of those roles. He says the unfortunate thing is the batters can’t seem to generate consistent run support.

 

 

“Our relief pitchers have come in and they understand their role that they’re supposed to fill when they enter the game,” Hucke said. “It’s been fun to see them come in and hold leads or get saves, and to pitch well enough for us to have a chance to come back and get a win.”

The first bullpen breakdown of the season didn’t happen until last Sunday when a normally reliable reliever came in, left a pitch up, and gave up three runs to Dakota County Technical College in the seventh inning. However, the Jackets did come back and win the game 4-3 in the bottom of the seventh inning on a walk-off base hit.

As he looks up and down the batting lineup, Hucke feels the team has a lot of potential to do some damage at the plate. The biggest challenge right now is the Yellowjackets baseball team is struggling with injuries.

 

 

“We’ve got the sticks to do it,” Hucke said, “we just need our approach at the plate to be a little more consistent and in tune with what we’re trying to do. We’re getting there.”

The team is getting much better defensively after what Hucke called a very rocky start to the season. He said the team likely has more errors to start a season than they’ve had in the last few years. A lot of it may have to do with spending most of their time inside the bubble over the football field working out to suddenly finding themselves outside in the middle of competition, switching from AstroTurf to natural grass.

“You get used to attacking the ball a little bit differently now that you’re on grass versus staying back and waiting for it to get to you on turf,” Hucke said. “We’re making some great plays in the outfield. Our outfielders have been phenomenal and we’re getting there around the infield so I think we’ll be okay.”

The team is coming off a Sunday afternoon split against Dakota County Technical College, dropping the first game 4-0 before coming back in dramatic fashion in the second game, winning 4-3. Hucke said the conference schedule is going to be as competitive as ever this spring.

“Our conference is pretty competitive and very talented,” he said. “We’ve also played one of our toughest non-conference schedules in recent years. We played a lot of tough teams on our spring trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, including a lot of Division 1 and Division 2 teams (scholarship programs). We came out of there at .500 against good teams so I can’t complain too much about that.”

Hucke said the trips down south give the team a chance to get to know each other. It’s important to find out who gets along with who and the team gets to find out about each other.

“Now, they’re forced to be together every day on a bus, in the condominiums where we stay, and out on the diamond,” Hucke said. “They’ll find out what the team is made of after a trip like that.”

The Yellowjackets baseball team is back in action on Thursday, April 13, with a home doubleheader against the St. Mary’s JV squad at 2 and 4:00. They’ll hit the road for a Friday conference doubleheader at St. Cloud Tech with games scheduled for 1 and 3:00.

 

Vikings GM looks to future at NFL Combine

The annual meat market that is the NFL combine is underway in Indianapolis. The next generation of NFL stars will be poked, prodded, tested, and questioned as teams try to figure out who is draft worthy and who isn’t. Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman held a press conference on Wednesday in Indy and covered a wide range of topics. As you may imagine, Adrian Peterson was a hot topic, but Spielman also covered Sam Bradford, the recovering Teddy Bridgewater, and the NFL Draft.

You have to admire Spielman being forthright and dealing with the team’s free-fall from a 5-0 “we’re Super Bowl contenders” start to an 8-8 finish. Spielman and the rest of the Vikings brain trust got to work when the offseason began looking at where the Purple will go from here.

“I and especially Coach (Mike) Zimmer are never going to look for excuses on what happened,” Spielman said in opening remarks to the media. We ended up 8-8 and, from our standards, that’s not good enough for our organization.”

NFL Combine Vikings

Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman spoke to reporters at the NFL Combine this week in Indianapolis, covering a wide range of topics as he looked to next season and the future of the Vikings. (photo from Pioneer Press YouTube page)

They’ve spent the past three to four weeks meeting with scouts and coaches analyzing everything they do. They’ve gotten together as a group regarding their team, potential free agents, and on the draft.

“We have a pretty good sense of what we need to do to try to improve our ball club from where we were last year,” Spielman said, “and we’re looking forward to getting started.”

At that point, he opened it up to questions from the media in attendance. The first question was on Sam Bradford’s performance in his first year as Vikings quarterback. Spielman admitted at that point he lost a $1 bet that the first question would involve the team’s decision to decline the $18 million option on running back Adrian Peterson.

Here are some of the highlights from the presser this week in Indy.

Chad Greenway talks Vikings football

Chad Greenway talks Vikings football

US Bank Stadium is the site for a Thursday night game between the Minnesota Vikings and visiting Dallas Cowboys. The Vikings are in need of a big win as the game kicks off around 7:30 central time. (photo from ESPN.com)

The Vikings host the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday night in a prime time NFL game at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. There’s no question the purple are in need of a quality win over a good team to get their mojo back from earlier in the season. Remember when the team was 5-0 and a “Super Bowl contender?” Sigh.

Chad Greenway took some time this week to speak with reporters about the upcoming game. My first encounter with Greenway took place a long time ago at the Dakota Dome in Vermillion, South Dakota. He was the quarterback/middle linebacker for Stickney-Mount Vernon as they took on my hometown Castlewood Warriors for the 9AA state championship. Most football teams talk about setting the tone early in the game, correct? Sticky-Mount Vernon set it during pregame warmups.

I was a young broadcaster doing sideline reporting and watched as the black-clad team took the field. I thought a college team got their schedules mixed up and were ready to take on the University of South Dakota Coyotes. Sticky-MV was a big squad. Castlewood relied on speed so they were looking at an uphill climb before the opening kickoff.

You can just tell about some players. Chad Greenway was a man among boys that afternoon on the astroturf. His talent level was so far above anyone else’s on the field, either his teammates or the opposition, that you just knew he was going places. He certainly did.

After a stellar career at Iowa as a Hawkeye, he’s been a Viking stalwart for a long time. The thing I like most about the guy, who just happens to be a fellow native South Dakotan is he doesn’t seem to have forgotten where he comes from. That’s a rare thing in today’s professional sports. Here’s some thoughts from Chad (Greenway, not Smith) on Dallas.

Yellowjackets fall by one in basketball opener

RCTC Yellowjackets basketballThe Rochester Community and Technical College Yellowjackets opened the men’s basketball season at home on Wednesday night against Dakota County Technical College out of Rosemount. The Jackets played their first regular season game after making a run into the National Junior College Athletic Association National Tournament last year, finishing as the national runner-up. In case you didn’t know, that wasn’t their first deep foray into the postseason.

Head coach Brian LaPlante has built a very good program in his two decades at the college. Including Wednesday night, his overall record at the school 396-174. Over the course of his career as Yellowjackets coach, he’s taken his team to six national tournaments. The Yellowjackets have some things to clean up (it’s early, who doesn’t) they were very entertaining to watch. I’d encourage more members of the community to spend some time at the Regional Sports Center and take in some basketball this winter.

The Jackets led by a point at the half, 35-34, but Dakota Tech outscored RCTC 38-36 in the second half to pull out the win. Late in the second half, Malik Jones (Chicago, IL) made a three-point play on a lay-in and free throw to give the Yellowjackets a one-point lead. However, the Blue Knights would answer with points of their own. RCTC had one last chance with 1.2 seconds on the clock. Jones wound up with the ball at half court and let it fly from there, with the ball clanking off the front of the rim before falling to the floor while the buzzer sounded.

Dakota County won the turnover battle with the Yellowjackets, 14-20. Those 20 RCTC turnovers would lead to 25 points for the Knights and that likely was a deciding factor in the game. Neither team shot the ball from the free throw line. Dakota would shoot 60 percent (20 for 33) while Rochester went for 56 percent (9-16). You’d think since the Knights doubled the number of Jacket free throws, Dakota was more aggressive taking the ball to the basket, and you’d be right.

RCTC seemed content to take shots from the perimeter for most of the night. They would finish the night shooting 46 percent (28 for 60) from the field.  Rochester was six for 17 from beyond the three-point line while the Blue Knights were four of ten.

The Yellowjackets had four of their starting five in double figures on the night. Malik Jones scored 13 while Stillwater product Nick Ogren also had 13 (two for three beyond the arc). Jones was also the top rebounder with 11.

The Yellowjackets are home on Friday night to play Milwaukee Area Technical College in the second game of a doubleheader at 8:00. The women’s game will start at 6.

Highlights from Wednesday night’s game:

Spring Grove football season comes to an end

Spring Grove football

The Spring Grove Lions football team lost to Grand Meadow 47-21 in the State 9-man, Section 1 title game at the RCTC football stadium in Rochester. (photo by Chad Smith)

The Spring Grove Lions came to play in the 9-Man, Section 1 football championship game on Friday night, November 4th, against Grand Meadow, but it took the offense too long to get going. The Superlarks led 20-0 in the first quarter before the teams began trading touchdowns for the rest of the game, which Grand Meadow won 47-21.

Grand Meadow was the number one ranked team in the Minnesota State 9-man poll at the end of the regular season, as well as the number one seed in the section tournament. They hit the ground running (literally) with Christopher Brain racing untouched 65 yards on the first play of the game. While the Superlarks were scoring on the first three drives of the game, number two section seed and number five state-ranked Spring Grove was only managing only a first down on each of its first three possessions.

Offense was hard to come by for the Lions. They did manage 312 yards of total offense against the Superlarks, but Grand Meadow gained 445 yards. Alex Folz had 100 yards rushing (102 yards, one TD) and passing (153 yards, two TDs). Christopher Bain and Zach Myhre were a solid one-two punch out of the GM backfield. Bain ran for 197 yards (20 carries) and Myhre ran for 126 (14 carries).

Spring Grove standout wide receiver Chase Grinde faced double teams from Grand Meadow defenders all night long. The cornerback would be within five yards of the line of scrimmage and a deep safety would be ten yards directly behind him. Despite the constant double teams, Grinde still caught six passes for 86 yards.

Grinde was also very busy defensively. He led the Lions with a career-high 24 tackles. The problem is, when your deep safety is making all the tackles, the offense is doing a very good job of moving the ball. Grinde had the Lions’ only tackle-for-loss.

Spring Grove was shorthanded in the backfield even before the opening kickoff. The Lions’ leading rusher Cullen Patterson (911 yards) was out with an injury. Brock Schuttemeier moved from his tight end spot to running back and found some tough sledding (13 carries, 43 yards).

Despite falling behind early, the Lions never stopped playing hard. The momentum of the game appeared to turn once and for all in Grand Meadow’s favor when the Lions were driving and turned the ball over on downs at the Superlark 11-yard line.

Here are a few highlights from the ballgame:

The Superlarks upped their winning streak to 47 straight games, and the three-time defending state champs will face Edgerton/Ellsworth in the state quarterfinals on Friday, November 11. Kickoff will be at 7:00 at the RCTC campus in Rochester.

Mabel-Canton volleyball ends in sub-section

Mabel-Canton volleyball

The Mabel-Canton Cougars played Caledonia in the East Sub-Section 1A title game last Thursday night, November 3, and came up short 3-0, ending the Cougars’ season with a 32-4 record. (Photo by Chad Smith)

Sports competition can present the most interesting dilemma. A team can walk onto the playing field or court and know way deep down that they could play the game of their lives and still lose the game. That was the situation facing the Mabel-Canton volleyball team as they played Caledonia on Thursday night, November 3rd, at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester, for the East Sub-Section 1A championship.

The Cougars threw themselves at their opponent with everything they had but came up short at the end. Caledonia won by a 3-0 score (18-25, 19-25, 17-25). Fans of both squads knew it would be a good game and the state rankings agreed. Caledonia finished the regular season ranked at number five in the Class A top ten poll, and Mabel-Canton was in the eighth spot in the same poll.

Height would be a deciding factor in the match. Caledonia has six-foot players on the bench that don’t see the court in varsity action, and the six-foot front-liners who do see time had several inches on the smaller Cougar players on the other side of the net. Not only are the Warriors tall along the front line, they’re very athletic as well.

“We knew that we could play a great game against Caledonia and still get beat,” said Cougars long time coach Lonnie Morken. “Caledonia is that good. You don’t see a lot of size like that on high school volleyball teams. They have multiple six-footers on the bench that aren’t playing and we’re lucky to get a kid that’s five-foot-eight or five-nine.”

Mabel-Canton Volleyball

Mabel-Canton volleyball coach Lonnie Morken (standing right side, blue shirt) watches his team place Caledonia in the East Sub-Section 1A title game last Thursday night in the Mayo Civic Center. Caledonia would win the match 3-0. (Photo by Chad Smith

To counteract some of that size, the Cougars needed to be precise with their ball control. Morken said the team also needed to hit their spots from the service line and, for the most part, he said the Cougars did that.

“We did a decent job serving,” Morken said, “but still didn’t quite hit every spot we needed to. Certainly, tonight was all about how Caledonia played. It wasn’t about us playing badly, or them getting lucky because we played badly. They played well and they’re going to be a handful, as the winner of the next match (Hayfield) is going to have everything they can to beat them.”

The team went 54 of 56 from the service line for 96 percent efficiency. Payton Danielson went 12 for 13 at the line and Savannah Slafter was perfect at 11 for 11.

Morken said duplicating that kind of size is very difficult in practice. The coaches talk to the kids and try to prepare them as much as possible. The back row players will talk to the front row players during the match to call out potential open areas.

“For things to have gone well for us tonight,” Morken said, “we would have had to pass and set better. We also needed to terminate balls and we didn’t do that effectively, but that was more about what Caledonia was doing than what we weren’t doing.”

The attack starts in the back row, where the Cougars finished the match with 43 digs on the night. Kenidi McCabe had 11 digs and Coranda Vickerman added ten.

The Warrior bigs along the front line were also very quick and athletic. That made  the matchup even tougher for the Cougars. Morken said the Warriors put in a lot of work on quickness and agility, along with lifting weights. That extra work is something Caledonia is known for.

That height really made it difficult for the Cougars to attack the net. Mabel-Canton wound up with 29 kills (101 attempts) and an uncharacteristic 16 errors. Slafter led the team with eight kills, with Dakota Delaney and Vickerman adding six each. McCabe assisted on 12 kills and Vickerman helped out on ten.

Morken and the team were both hoping to get farther into the playoffs. He said both Courtney Graves (four kills, three digs, three assists) and Coranda Vickerman (six kills, ten digs, ten assists) played well as seniors in their last game for the Cougars. It’s always tough to say goodbye to seniors at this time of year and Morken said it’s no different this season.

“They’ve been with us for a long time,” Morken said. “Coranda was a five-year varsity player and Courtney was a four-year varsity player. Before Senior Night (earlier in the regular season), I added up their win-loss totals over the last five years and it’s insane. It stinks right for them (Vickerman and Graves), but I’m hoping when they look back they’ll be able to say ‘gosh, we had a lot of success playing volleyball at Mabel-Canton,’ and remember more of the successes than tonight’s loss.”

He thought the team improved in a lot of areas over the course of the season. One of the biggest steps forward this team took was learning the mental toughness to overcome an 0-2 deficit in the previous match against Fillmore Central in the sub-section semifinals.

“I don’t know if we would have been tough enough last year to overcome an 0-2 deficit,” Morken said, “so we certainly showed the most growth there. Last year, we were all underclassmen.  This year, we had two seniors, but we’re still really young. It can be tough to get eighth and ninth graders to believe and stay focused, so I think we improved the most with our mental toughness this year.”

Here are some video highlights from a busy night of volleyball in the Mayo Civic Center:

 

 

 

Med City Freeze prepare for season two

“Season two (for the Med City Freeze) is going to be a lot of fun.”

Those are the first words Tim Nela chose to say as he thought about the two rounds of tryouts the Med City Freeze held in recent months.  The Freeze held the tryouts to fill out their 2017 roster for the Southern Plains Football League season next year. That’s not the only reason they’re holding tryouts. They also need to put their team together to take part in the 2016 Winter Pigskin Classic coming up on December 17th at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

“We definitely established a coaching staff,” said Nela, one of the four founders of the Freeze, “that was the main focus the first year (in 2016). Now we have players coming over from other teams that are coming over and we’ve got people who’ve played at all different levels of football.”

Med City Freeze football

The Med City Freeze football team hosted tryouts for the 2017 roster at the Rochester Community and Technical College campus in Rochester, Minnesota, on Friday, October 21. The Freeze will play in the Winter Pigskin Classic on December 17 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. (Photo by Chad Smith)

Storm Soto is another one of the team founders, and he said the difference between year one and year two is incredible. The number of people trying out for the team last year was considerably lower than the number that turned out at the recent tryouts.

“Now that year one is done and everyone saw the success,” Soto said, “and year two is booming. It’s one of those unfortunate things that some really talented players won’t make the Freeze roster this year because of so much talent to choose from.”

He said people might be more attracted to the team because the Freeze were 7-1 in their inaugural season. Soto said players were able to see the kind of quality organization they put together and the good competition they play on a weekly basis during the season.

This year was a clean slate as far as filling the roster. Everyone that was on the roster last year was required to try out again, even Soto, Nela, and Jeff Sipple, the third team founder (Joseph Hockert is the fourth). Soto said some of the guys who made the team last year likely won’t make the roster this season.

“We aren’t just looking for the best athletes,” Soto said, “we’re looking for the best people too. The Freeze want people who are going to fit in with what we do. We want tenacious attitudes on the field but we don’t want attitude off the field.”

Nela described the drills at both tryout sessions as “pro style.” They didn’t necessarily do a bench press and run a 40-yard dash like players do at the NFL combine, but they did do a lot of conditioning drills.

“Jeff (Sipple) had the best times for all the agility drills,” Nela said, “but he worked harder than anybody in the offseason. Being the quarterback and one of the (team) founders, he understands that if you want to be on the field, you have to be willing to work for it.”

Soto said most of the players showed up in good condition. He called a couple of the players they’re adding to the roster next year, “studs.” Nela liked what he saw from the prospective Freeze players.

“They were guys out there that brought a different type of energy that we didn’t have in season one,” Nela said. “Some of these guys are going to make plays on the field, but off the field with the things we do outside of football, even on things like bus rides, they’ll be very good for the team.”

Soto said the Freeze have a big chunk of the roster already filled out and they hope to have everything done and players called in the next several days. There’s even more urgency than normal because the Freeze will be taking part in the Winter Pigskin Classic on December 17 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

“The (SPFL) league has put this on in the past at the Metrodome,” Soto said. “I think it shows a lot about the credibility of the SPFL to do something like this. I give a lot to league commissioner Jay Doyscher, who has busted his tail to legitimize this league, and I commend him for making this a possibility for amateur football players.”

The league will have games running all day at U.S. Bank Stadium, and Nela said it’s a great opportunity to see the stadium for those folks who haven’t been able to make it to a Vikings game.

“It’s $15, you could spend all day out there and watch some good football,” Nela said. “We’re playing the Buffalo Ridge Wildcats, an undefeated team last year that featured the best offense in the league.”

The team will have half a dozen practices to install the offense and defense, getting everyone in their right positions. The Freeze game kicks off at 6p.m., but the gates open for the all-day event at 9 that morning.

The Freeze will be hosting a couple of fans buses for those who don’t want to drive to the Cities and pay for parking. Pre-sale tickets are $15 dollars, with the door price at $20. For more information, check out the Med City Freeze Facebook page or email medcityfreeze@gmail.com.

Building a football team on October 21st at the RCTC campus.