Our High School Football Preview Tour continues to roll on.
The Meridian Media sports staff is previewing the 2021 season, venturing to different parts of central Kansas.
The latest stop was in Minneapolis, home to the Lions.
For the second straight season, Minneapolis had a 4-5 record and lost to Cimarron in the first round of the 2A playoffs. However, the Lions have made the playoffs back-to-back years now for the first time since 2008-09. Tom Flax returns for his third year as the head coach, and hopes are high in pursuit of the Lions’ first playoff victory since 2014. Despite losing a strong 2020 senior class, which included quarterback Trenton Moeckel and top pass catcher Spencer Davidson, Minneapolis has several players with good experience back in the lineup.
Offensively, Gannon Cleveland is the top returning rusher, and he had 99 carries for 342 yards and two touchdowns in 2020. The Lions also return Jonathan Lowe, who recorded 12 catches for 174 yards and one score last year. Minneapolis has three returning starting offensive linemen, and 16 returning lettermen altogether. At quarterback, junior Gabe Hueser and sophomore Ryan Parks are battling it out in early practices.
On defense, Cleveland had 55 tackles last year and is expected to lead the linebacker corps. Other names such as Colby Rice and Weston Schrader are primed to make impacts in the 4-2-5 scheme. Flax said he is also excited about junior Tucker Smith, a move-in from Montana whose family has ties to Minneapolis.
As for the schedule, the Lions will face several strong teams both in and out of district. Six of the eight teams on the slate made the playoffs in 2020, with four of them making their respective class’s quarterfinals or further.
Of course, after only getting two games on its new turf field last year, Minneapolis is also excited about a full home schedule of games on the playing surface.
The Lions will look to keep the playoff streak going and even possibly make a run in the postseason. Flax said if the team can stay healthy and do what it needs to, then times will be great in Minneapolis this fall.
2021 Minneapolis Lions Football Schedule (all kickoff times slated for 7 pm w/games on 92.7 The New Zoo & ksal.com):
Sept. 3 – at Southeast of Saline
Sept. 10 – Riley County
Sept. 17 – at Republic County
*Sept. 24 – Norton
*Oct. 1 – at Hoisington
*Oct. 8 – Phillipsburg
*Oct. 15 – Beloit
*Oct. 22 – at Ellsworth
Oct. 29 – PLAYOFFS
*Denotes 2A District 8 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. 24)
Day 8: Ell-Saline Cardinals (on Aug. 25)
Day 9: Sacred Heart Knights (on Aug. 26)
Day 10: Salina South Cougars (on Aug. 27)
Day 10: Salina Central Mustangs (on Aug. 27)