Wednesday, August 17, 2011

High-school football begins

With the exception of Mankato Loyola, area prep football teams began practicing Monday. Of course, any program with a hint of success has been working out all summer, either at camps or led by captains.

Loyola started a week early, taking advantage of a new rule that allowed teams to schedule a game the last Friday of August, then take a week off during the rest of the season.

Loyola should be in a better place this season, with numbers up to 43 from 27. Last season, the Crusaders won just two games, often times practicing with less than 22 players. But those younger players gained a lot of experience.

At Mankato West, all eyes will be on senior quarterback Philip Nelson, who has committed to the University of Minnesota. Other teams will measures themselves against Nelson, who will likely collect many of the program's passing records by season's end.

But don't forget Hunter Friesen, who caught 50 passes and made nine interceptions to earn some all-state recognition.

Mankato East won three games last season and should be able to build on that. There will be a new quarterback, but there are some veterans in the backfield and on the line.

You should always keep an eye on Waterville-Elysian-Morristown, which has a lot of players returning but must replace all-state quarterback Conrad Masberg.

At Blue Earth Area, 6-9, 290-pound lineman Jonah Pirsig has also committed to the University of Minnesota.

New Ulm Cathedral returns as the defending Class A champions, though there were a lot of seniors on that team. Senior running backs Eric Hauser, Ted Skillings and Nick Simon each played key roles in that championship season.

Surely, many other cool stories will emerge as the season gets rolling. Check back here or keep an eye on the print edition for some of those.

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