RCTC football becomes impromptu family reunion

As long as there’ve been athletic competitions like football, fathers have been taking their sons to games to enjoy a little bonding time.  Most sports fans I know have at least one favorite story of going to games with their dad and hanging out.  Good times with their dads will often lead kids to continue the tradition when they become parents themselves.

RCTC football equals a family reunion

The Rochester Community and Technical College football team beat Minnesota West in its home opener on Saturday, September 3, by a 26-8 score to even the overall season record at 1-1. (photo by Chad Smith

I got to take my two oldest boys with me to the Rochester Community and Technical College football game today.  If you know anything about what my family went through over the last four years, you’d know what a monumental thing that is.  It seems like such a small thing to go to a football game, doesn’t it?   When you haven’t been able to do that thing for a long time due to circumstances beyond your control, that little thing becomes big.

The day was a knockout for a college football game with temps in the 70’s.  There was just enough cloud cover to keep the heat from becoming oppressive, as it’s been known to do in late August/early September.  But no, this was a perfect day to watch football.

I’ll admit, it wasn’t the prettiest game I’ve seen in some time.  There weren’t a lot of big plays for either offense but the Yellowjackets came away with a 26-8 win to even their record at 2-0.  I didn’t recognize a lot of their players from last year’s squad. That team finished runner-up in the national championship game last year.  Last year’s coaching staff is gone too, so it’s going to be a rebuilding year for the Jackets.

I’d love to see those college athletic teams get more support from the Rochester community.  Those kids play hard and the cost to see them play is actually pretty affordable.  The facilities are some of the nicest I’ve seen in all my years of covering sports, so it’s worth the time and a little investment to take in the college atmosphere.

I’ve got a son and wife who are students out to RCTC, so I’m looking forward to getting to know the place a lot better in the months ahead.  Sure, it would be nice to see more Rochester folks out there.  If you’re a sports fan, you’re definitely missing out on some fun.

The offensive struggles made highlights a little harder to come by, but the Yellowjackets offense did find some rhythm in the second half.

Med City Freeze win their opener on a blustery night

The Med City Freeze football opener was both a challenge and success as well. First off, the goal of any sport is to win the game and the Freeze did just that, 20-0 over the North Iowa Hawks.  The victory made the return of the Southern Plains Football League to Rochester official.

The weather was indeed the biggest challenge.  Cold, blustery, rain, sprinkles, and a wet bum as fans sat on bleachers made for a rough night for the folks in attendance.  I have no doubt that the attendance would have been much better with nicer weather, but Mother Nature evidently missed the memo that there was a game tonight.

Med City Freeze opener

Three Rochester John Marshall graduates spearheaded the effort to bring amateur football back to Rochester. From left: Jeff Sipple, Tim Nela, and Storm Soto. (photo by Chad Smith)

Hats off the a whole lot of people who put in a lot of work to get the program going in Rochester, but a big tip of the cap to Storm Soto, Tim Nela, and Jeff Sipple for bringing nine-man football action back to town. These three are all from Rochester and spearheaded the work that brought spring football back to the area.

As I sat and watched the action for about an hour (hey, it was cold, all right?) I saw some good things.  I saw balance on offense and a Med City Freeze defense that forced one turnover and nearly had another.  I saw some great hits from both defenses. I saw some mistakes, but honestly, some of that had to do with the wet weather and a slick football.  The weather looked a lot more tolerable because the game was taking place at the Rochester Community and Technical College football field.  I’ve never seen a more well-put together field at the Junior College level, and they take very good care of it.

I put together a few plays so you could get a taste of the action on Saturday night.  Again, the Med City Freeze won 20-0, and are back on their home field next week against the Southeast Minnesota Warhawks, who curiously play their home games in Carlisle, Iowa.  Love the name, though.

 

 

 

Med City Freeze football begins April 30

Freeze football opens in April

The Med City Freeze open Southern Plains Football League play on Saturday, April 30, at the RCTC Regional Stadium in Rochester, Kickoff is at 7. (photo from hometeamsonline.com)

The Southern Plains Football League officially has a new member from Rochester. Say hello to the Med City Freeze football, a new amateur team featuring players from around southern Minnesota, Iowa, and as far away as Chicago, Illinois and Atlanta, Georgia.

Three men from Rochester are the leaders in getting amateur football back in the area. Rochester John Marshall graduates Storm Soto, Tim Nela, and Jeff Sipple all love football, and simply wanted to bring amateur competition back home to Rochester.

“Jeff and I played for another team in the league, the South Central Hawgs (in Truman, MN),” said Soto, “and we had been commuting back and forth for three years. After the most recent season, we sat down and built a plan to do this in Rochester. We asked Tim to join us and founded the Med City Freeze.”

Tim Nela is a Rochester native and listed as a running back on the current Freeze roster. They’re excited to bring a brand new team into an already established league.Haw

“It is 9-man, amateur tackle football,” Nela said, “and it’s an adult league, so players are 18-plus. We’ve brought a team to a league that’s already established in its twentieth year. It’s not a situation where we created a team and then created a league.”

Rochester Freeze football founders

Three Rochester John Marshall graduates spearheaded the effort to bring amateur football back to Rochester. From left: Jeff Sipple, Tim Nela, and Storm Soto. (photo by Chad Smith)

That doesn’t necessarily mean the new roster has no experience in Southern Plains league play.

“Storm is going into his fifth season,” Nela said, “and Jeff is going into his fourth. This will be my first season in the league.”

Other veterans on the roster include Nathan Polansky, a running back from Rochester in his third season, as well as Duane Quam, a fullback/linebacker from Byron, who is going into his third season.

How does a brand new team go about finding players to fill out the roster? In a word: tryouts.

“We had a series of two open tryouts,” said Soto. “We evaluated players based on skill level and picked the strongest 40. We can have a roster of up to 50, but only 40 can dress, so we stuck with that number.”

Soto added, “We all have a lot of confidence in the roster we’ve assembled.”

The roster includes a lot of recognizable players from Rochester and some familiar names from around southern Minnesota as well.

“They’re kind of from all over,” said Soto. “Rochester, primarily, but we have people from Jackson, Minnesota who are traveling down I-90 to play, as well as players from Plainview, Pine Island, and Stewartville.”

It’s already time to start practicing for the April 30th opener against the North Iowa Bucks at the Rochester Community and Technical College Regional Stadium. The first practice is actually this Sunday, February 21.

“A lot of guys have been training on their own,” Nela said. “It’s crazy. For example, we were already up at working out at 5:00 this morning. We believe so much in what we’ve assembled that when the first game hits, we’re ready to put on a show.”

Between now and the first game, the biggest challenge will be to get a roster of players who’ve never been on the field together to gel into a unit.

“It’s going to be a big challenge,” said Soto. “There’s a lot of new personalities that we’re taking on, but the key will be to have everyone buy into what we’re doing. If they do that, I’m confident we can go all the way to an SPFL championship.”

The team locations range from eastern South Dakota, through Minnesota, and all the way into Iowa. The Freeze will be members of the Eastern Division, so they won’t have to travel quite that far.

It is amateur level competition, but the three-team founders said don’t let that fool you. You may be surprised at how skilled some of the players are.

The skill-set has a good range,” Soto said. “In this league, you have high school players all the way up to former NCAA Division One players. Last year we played against four or five guys that were Division One, including players from the University of Northern Iowa and the University of Minnesota.”

He added, “It’s a very physical and demanding league.”

The Freeze has coaches ready to start practice on Sunday.

 

 

There are costs associated with getting a brand new team off the ground. The Freeze began a Kickstarter campaign to help offset some of those costs, and they’d appreciate any help the public can give:

 

 

The Freeze kick off the season on Saturday, April 30, at the RCTC regional stadium with a 7:00 kickoff against the North Iowa Bucks.

 

 

JM Rockets fall in double OT to Owatonna

Rochester John Marshall

The Rochester John Marshall Rockets face the defending State Class 5A champion Mankato West Scarlets in their next action Friday night in Mankato. (photo from Facebook.com)

The third quarter was the difference as the Rochester John Marshall Rockets fell in double overtime to Owatonna 27-21 last Friday.

The Rockets controlled the first half, but the Huskies threw some different looks on offense against J-M coming out of the halftime locker room. Rockets Head Coach Kevin Kirkeby said his team rallied in the fourth quarter and it turned into quite a ballgame.

“Owatonna has two different styles of offense,” said Kirkeby. “They’ll go into a pistol offense and do more of a spread formation, but they also go under center. Against Mankato West (in their season opener) they only did their pistol offense, so we weren’t sure what they would do against us and prepared for both styles.”

The Rockets defense played well against the pistol during the first half.

Rochester John Marshall High School

The Rochester John Marshall 2015 football team. (Photo from johnmarshallrockets.org)

“Offensively, we didn’t really need to throw the ball much in the first half,” said Kirkeby. “We were having really good success on the ground. (Senior Running Back) Cazz Martin scored two touchdowns (on 18 carries for 102 yards) and things were going well.”

Owatonna came out of the halftime locker room and took control of the game early in the second half.

“The Huskies defense had a whole bunch of different players than what they ran out their in loss against West,” said Kirkeby, “So it probably took them a half to get used to each other. They came out fired up and we just didn’t have a whole lot of offensive continuity.”

He added, “The third quarter was all theirs. They scored twice on their first two possessions of the second half.”

Kirkeby was proud of his team for not letting up and bouncing back in the fourth quarter with some good football.

 

 

The Rockets are 1-1 on the season, and they’ve shown some flashes of good football:

 

JM is a football team with a lot of new faces in the lineup.

“We only have a couple of returning starters on offense,” he said. “On defense, we have about 7 returning starters but some of them are playing different positions.”

They do have a lot of upperclassmen on the field, but not a lot of game day experience to go with it.

“We have a nice mixture of juniors and seniors on offense and defense,” said Kirkeby. “However, it’s not like other teams that have a lot of seniors that have been playing together since tenth grade. We don’t have that.”

Kirkeby is in his third year as Head Coach, and he wants his offense to start with a solid ground game.

“My philosophy in Minnesota is we have all kinds of challenging weather,” said Kirkeby, “so you better be able to run the football. However, you can’t just run the ball or the opponent will stack the box with 9 or 10 guys and make it very difficult. I think a nice 40-60 or 30-70 blend of running and passing plays would be a good place to be at.”

JM has a tough road assignment this week. They travel to Mankato West High School for a matchup with the State Class 5A champs. Kirkeby said, in some ways, the Scarlets might be a better team than they were last year.

 

What aspects of the game do the Rockets need to improve on?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rochester Mayo football starts fast

Rochester Mayo High School

The Rochester Mayo Spartans take a 1-0 record to Rochester Century to face the Panthers in their next action on Friday night. (Photo from ww2.rochester.k12.mn.us)

 

The Rochester Mayo Spartans opened the 2015 football season with a 50-21 road victory over the Faribault Cardinals.

The game was a rematch of the Section 1AAAAA championship game from last year, which went to the Cardinals. While it didn’t take the sting away from last season’s 20-14 Overtime loss, the Spartans played well to open the new season schedule.

 

 

Spartans Coach Donny Holcomb said it’s always great to start the season with a win, but Mayo had to withstand a Cardinal comeback in the second half:

 

He said the Spartans showed some resilience in the fourth quarter.

“Definitely, I’m glad to see the way the kids finished the game,” said Holcomb. “They really came together and finished strong, without pointing fingers at each other.”

Several things stood out for the Spartans in the win:

 

Greg Henry led the rushing attack with 24 carries for 124 yards and four touchdowns.  He added 2 catches for 73 yards and another TD.

New quarterback Trajan Grimsrud was 9 of 16 passing for 141 yards and 2 TD’s through the air.

This year’s Spartans team has a whole lot of new faces in key roles.

“We actually lost 15 starters on both sides of the ball,” said Holcomb. “It’s a fairly new team with a lot of guys that learned from past players and hungry to get their chance to step in like on any high school team, so they’re ready to take over and give their best.”

Despite a lot of new faces, the Spartans did bring back a few familiar names from last year:

 

Holcomb’s offensive philosophy is balance:

 

He wants the Spartans to play aggressive defense.

“We’re going to be a base defense that’s very aggressive,” said Holcomb. “We do want to come out and blitz the other team and find an offense’s weaknesses. We like to do simple things right and blitz when we need to.”

The Spartans will be at Rochester Century in their next action Friday night. Holcomb said it’s always a challenge to play a cross-town rival:

 

What kind of challenges will the Panthers present?

“They’re a team that’s not as big,” said Holcomb, “but that means they’re going to be quick, especially on the offensive and defensive lines. They’re going to play faster than your typical O and D lines, so we’re expecting more speed. We saw some of their skill players in 7-on-7 over the summer, so we know we need to play disciplined.”

 

 

 

 

American churches and the “Big Game”

Super Bowl copyright infringement is something that churches across the country should keep in mind if they’re planning to host a Super Bowl viewing party this Sunday.  Copyrights are not typically on a church’s party planning list, but the NFL would like it to be at least somewhere in your top five.

Football fields are silent, but football fans are gathered around their TV screens for the “Big Game"

Football fields are silent, but football fans are gathered around their TV screens for this Sunday’s “Big Game” (Photo by Chad Smith)

 

According to copyrightcommunity.net, Super Bowl Sunday is actually one of the biggest evangelism opportunities of the year for churches across the country.  Christiancopyrightsolutions.com calls it one of the best chances to engage in “friendship evangelism.”    Before the big game and the big group gets together, let’s talk about what you need to know.

Christ Community Church in Rochester will host a “Big Game” viewing party on Sunday, February 2

Christ Community Church in Rochester will host a “Big Game” viewing party on Sunday, February 2 (Photo by Chad Smith)

 

At this point, a logical question might be, “Why are you bringing this up, and what do I care?”  If your train of thought is running down those tracks, it’s important to understand just how seriously the NFL takes its copyrights.

 

Copyrightcommunity.net said back in 2007, an Indiana church planned to host a Super Bowl viewing party, and publicized the event on it’s website.  The NFL spotted the plans and overnighted a letter to the Fall Creek Baptist Church, demanding that the church cancel the party.  The NFL’s actions led to a number of churches around the country canceling their Super Bowl viewing events.

Companies like EA Sports pay a lot of money to use the NFL Shield logo (photo by Chad Smith)

Companies like EA Sports pay a lot of money to use the NFL Shield logo (photo by Chad Smith

 

The NFL continued to alert churches to the possibility of copyright violations into 2008.  It took bipartisan legal action by Congress to bring the conflict to something resembling a resolution.  Utah Republican Senator Orrin Hatch and Democrat Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania brandished legal action that finally brought a positive response from Commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL.

 

In a letter to Senator Hatch after the ’08 Super Bowl, Commissioner Roger Goodell said the NFL would no longer object to “live showings, regardless of screen size, of the Super Bowl,” by religious organizations.  The conditions are that admission can’t be charged to the event, and the showing should be on the premises that the church uses on a “routine and customary basis.”

Brandon Ganz of Christ Community Church in Rochester (Photo from www.cccrochester.org)

Brandon Ganz of Christ Community Church in Rochester (Photo from www.cccrochester.org)

 

Brandon Ganz is the Pastor of Administration for Christ Community Church, which serves over 3,000 people, in Rochester, Minnesota.  He recently sent out an email to ministry groups in the church about not “using the term Super Bowl, or team logos and names, in any of our publications or on our church website.”  Ganz said there have been churches that don’t worry about the copyright law, thinking that “it’s for the greater good, but they still wind up breaking the law.”  As Pastor of Administration, he said one of his tasks includes keeping up to date on potential copyright violations, as the laws continue to get more complex.

Churches may show the Super Bowl on any size screen they normally use in their place of worship

Churches may show the Super Bowl on any size screen they normally use in their place of worship (Photo by Chad Smith)

 

 

According to guideone.com, there are a few things for churches to keep in mind, which will help them stay on the right side of the NFL:

 

  1. The game must be shown live on equipment you use for your ministry.  It can’t be a recording.
  2. Don’t charge admission to the event.  You can ask for donations to help defray the costs of the event.
  3. To avoid any copyright infringements, avoid calling it a “Super Bowl Party.”  Pick a version of the “Big Game,” or something similar.  Do not use any of the NFL trademarks or intellectual property.  This includes using the terms Super Bowl and NFL, plus don’t use team names or logos.  The towns where teams are located are fine.

The internet has broadened a church’s reach and influence in society, but because of copyright law, it’s also means churches have to be more careful about what they post and publish on their websites and their publications too.