The Rocking M Media sports staff is previewing the 2020 season, venturing to different parts of central Kansas.
The latest stop is Minneapolis (4-5 record in 2019) as the Lions prepare for an uncertain season.
What is certain–or not up for debate–is that Minneapolis comes in with a lot of momentum from 2019. The Lions racked up four wins for the second year in-a-row, but this time, made the 2A State Playoffs. Even after a first round exit, 2020 brings some of the most optimism around the Minneapolis High School football program in a long time.
Not only are the Lions coming off of their first playoff appearance since 2014, they return a stellar core of players led by seven seniors–all of whom started every game last season. Nine starters return on offense and eight return for defense for Tom Flax’s second year as head coach.
Minneapolis does lose its quarterback and top wide receiver from 2019, however, the Lions return their entire offensive line–including their tight end, two running backs who combined for over 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns one year ago. And while Minneapolis loses Derek Freel as a veteran QB, Trent Moeckel–who was the backup last year and is going on his fourth year of varsity starting experience–will lead the team at the position.
The Lions’ strong suite from one year ago was on defense. They held their opponents to under 200 yards of offense per game and allowed only 19 PPG. While Minneapolis does lose three of its top four linebackers from 2019, the 2020 Lions return their entire defensive line plus backups from one year ago–all of whom have big game experience.
Also apart of the Minneapolis optimism are two news things. The Lions will sport a different look on the field this year as the team traditionally has dawned navy blue helmets in the past. This year, MHS will be wearing new white helmets to change up their look. The helmets have a navy and red stripe down the crown with a big block “M” in navy on each side. The helmets also have silver face masks which give them an extra flare.
While the new look certainly has players and fans excited, a new look field has everyone in the Minneapolis community excited.
Gone is the grass field and being installed currently is a brand-new turf field. Minneapolis will now be the second school in the NCAA league to have a turf field, which will not just help the football team, but many other activities including spring sports for the high school, as well as youth sports around Ottawa County.
The project is spearheaded by Scott Worlock, a Minneapolis High School graduate of 1999, and Jim Bateman; CEO of EnviroTurf–the company installing the new field–also an alum of Minneapolis High School from the class of 1970.
Minneapolis will once again have a brutal schedule, however. The Lions open up the year with Southeast of Saline, Riley County and Republic County–all three of those teams made the playoffs last year and two making deep runs. Minneapolis’ district is also loaded. On the schedule are the defending 2A State runner’s-up, Norton, as well as perennial powers, Hoisington and Phillipsburg. Meanwhile, area rivals Beloit and Ellsworth are also in the same district.
Still, outside of Hoisington, Minneapolis has the most experience returning out of any team in their district.
2020 Minneapolis Key Returners:
- Keyon Baccus, Sr., OL/DL (2019 stats: 45 tackles, 3 sacks)
- Colton Bradford, Sr., DB (2019 stats: 40 tackles, 3 sacks)
- Gannon Cleveland, Jr., RB/LB (2019 stats: 100 yards rushing, 1 TD, six games played)
- Spencer Davidson, Sr., TE/DE (2019 stats: 15 receptions, 200 yards–MHS’ top returning receiver)
- Trent Moeckel, Sr., QB/DB (2019 stats: 2 INT, 20 tackles)
- John Nelson, Sr., WR/DB (2019 stats: 2 TD in five games)
- Brody Vance, Sr., OL/DL (2019: started every game on OL/DL, 26 tackles)
- Chasyn Vogan, Jr., OL/DL (2019 stats: 30 tackles, 9 TFL, 5 sacks)
- Daniel Watson, Sr., RB/LB (2019 stats: Rushed for just shy of 1,000 yards, averaged 7 yards per carry and 7 TD)
2020 Minneapolis High School Football Schedule (NOTE: all games can be heard LIVE on 92.7 The New Zoo)
Sept. 4-Southeast of Saline
Sept. [email protected] Riley County
Sept. 18-Republic County
Sept. [email protected] Norton*
Oct. [email protected] Phillipsburg*
Oct. [email protected] Beloit*
Oct. 30-2A State Playoffs
(*)-denotes district game
Day 1: Abilene Cowboys
Day 2: Bennington Bulldogs
Day 3: Ellsworth Bearcats
Day 4: Solomon Gorillas
Day 5: Smoky Valley Vikings
Day 6: Minneapolis Lions
Day 7: Southeast of Saline Trojans (on Aug. 25)
Day 8: Ell-Saline Cardinals (on Aug. 26)
Day 9: Sacred Heart Knights (on Aug. 27)
Day 10: Salina South Cougars (on Aug. 28)
Day 10: Salina Central Mustangs (on Aug. 28)