Boy, it’s hard to believe that fall sports are right around the corner. What happened to summer? The first official day of fall practice for high school sports is August 14. I’m already talking to southeast Minnesota coaches about doing previews of their teams for our newspapers and online at bluffcountrynews.com. My first stop this fall is a visit with the Spring Grove Lions’ coaching staff.
For those who don’t follow southeast Minnesota sports on a regular basis, the Spring Grove high school sports teams are generally very good year after year. The football and volleyball teams recently returned from their last summer camps of the year. I talked with volleyball coach Kelsey Morken and football coach Zach Hauser.
The Spring Grove Lions, shown here in action from last season, are readying for fall practice, which officially starts on August 14.
The volleyball team had a very good season last year, going 17-12 overall and 10-4 in the Southeast Conference, finishing at second in the East Division. The Lion girls bring back a lot of experience from last year’s squad. The Spring Grove football team went 9-2 last year, 7-1 in the 9 Man, District 1, East Sub-District football standings.
The football team went to its summer camp without its number one quarterback, Alex Folz, who was out with a biceps injury. But, don’t worry Lions fans. He’ll be okay come fall practice. Here’s the conversations with both coaches on the chadsmithmedia.com podcast.
Vikings guard Brandon Fusco returned to practice Monday, his first since suffering a concussion Oct. 9 against Houston. Fusco was lost for the game on the first series against the Texans. Minnesota was back at practice on Monday following a bye week.
Vikings center Joe Berger, left, and guard Brandon Fusco defending their quarterback, in the fourth quarter, as the Minnesota Vikings beat the Chicago Bears 23-20 at Soldier Field in Chicago on November 1, 2015. (Pioneer Press: Scott Takushi)
Sitting out Monday were wide receivers Stefon Diggs (hamstring) and Jarius Wright (undisclosed), and tight end MyCole Pruitt, who suffered a knee injury against the Texans. Diggs sat out against Houston and hasn’t practiced since playing in an Oct. 3 game against the New York Giants.
The Vikings’ most recent practice was Tuesday. Also returning after missing that workout: linebacker Anthony Barr (undisclosed) and tight end Rhett Ellison, who missed the game against Houston with a knee injury.
Practice squad guard Isame Faciane did not practice. He was arrested last Wednesday in St. Louis Park on suspicion of drunken driving.
Quarterback Taylor Heinicke was eligible to practice Monday after being placed on the reserve non-football injury list Sept. 3. Heinicke did not participate, but a source said Heinicke is “100 percent” and expected to practice on Wednesday.
Heinicke suffered a torn tendon in his left foot in July, the result, he said, of his foot going through a window when he was locked out of his home in Atlanta. When Heinicke returns, the Vikings will have 21 days to decide whether to place him on the 53-man roster or leave him on the non-football injury list.
Wednesday will be a heavier practice day, and if Heinicke goes then, it would give the Vikings perhaps a heavier additional day of practice at the end to make a decision. The source expects Minnesota, which has quarterbacks Sam Bradford and Shaun Hill on the active roster, and Joel Stave on the practice squad, to take the full 21 days to make a decision unless there is an injury.
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.”