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The BSM football team won their first State 4A Championship in program history by defeating the Winona Winhawks 31-28 on Friday, November 25, 2016. (Courtesy of Bill Cheney)
The BSM football team won their first State 4A Championship in program history by defeating the Winona Winhawks 31-28 on Friday, November 25, 2016.

Courtesy of Bill Cheney

Remembering the Knight at the Bank

An Oral History the 2016 BSM Football Championship

December 20, 2019

The 2016 Benilde-St. Margaret’s football season: a rollercoaster season in which the Red Knights endured injuries, suspensions, and tough losses, but one that also consisted of chemistry, triumph, and an unlikely state championship run.

Even now––nearly three years later––the impact of the team can still be felt throughout the BSM hallways. Ears perk up when names such as Eric Wilson or Will Whitmore are mentioned, and BSM football fans smile when reminiscing about Ricky Floyd breaking out 80-yard touchdown runs and hurdling defenders on the turf. Co-head coaches Jon Hanks and Pat Krieger gathered their players and made it a priority to not only find success on the field but also off of it through chemistry building and establishing a football family.

Since that win, the Red Knights have twice made it to the section championship, with this year’s team finishing with a record of 9-1, going undefeated in the regular season for only the second time in school history and being the first BSM football team to win nine straight games.

So, what was it like winning a state title?  How has that state championship win impacted the BSM football community? Looking back at that championship season and its impact, this series of firsthand accounts from past and present players, coaches, managers, parents, and fans is an oral history of how the 2016 football team stepped up to put BSM on the map as a football school and delivered BSM its first––and only––football state championship.

 

Leading the Red Knights to Victory 

Senior+Eric+Wilson+was+both+a+captain+and+an+offensive+lineman+on+the+championship+team.

Photo courtesy of Eric Wilson

Senior Eric Wilson was both a captain and an offensive lineman on the championship team.

In order to have a strong team, there must be strong leaders. During the 2016 season, each player brought something different to the team, and together these Red Knights played hard and pushed themselves to their limits to succeed. Senior captains, Eric Wilson and Braeden Fitzgerald, along with many other senior leaders helped the team focus and showed the younger players the right thing to do.  

Eric Wilson, 2016 Captain: “Being a captain was definitely special my senior year given that it would be the last time playing football with some of my best friends. I think the coolest part about my senior season was having two different captains each game (as named by Coach Hanks) to join me and Braeden Fitzgerald. This made the team not one with one or two individual leaders, but instead a team with leaders all throughout each section of the team. It was a great experience getting to be closer to my teammates in that manner.”

Sedona Brown, 2016 Manager: “I think that the leadership from the senior players was what set this team apart. And on top of that, there were younger players that listened and respected the seniors and really wanted to learn and grow into their roles.”

John Landry, 2016 Linebacker:  “Football taught me a lot about leadership and teamwork. I learned how to trust people with their jobs, but it also taught me some accountability. I face those things every day, so it makes my life easier now.”   

Pat Krieger, 2016 Co-Head Coach: “To be a Red Knight football player, a person has to be dedicated. It is a hard sport and comes with a lot of practice. Playing the games and throughout practice, the players learn a lot about themselves, teamwork, and accountability. There are skills in football that carry over to life, like communicating with other people and teamwork.”

Elijah Brown, 2016 Freshman Lineman: “There were a lot of leaders on that team. They helped me become more of a leader myself and showed me to never give up.”

Jon Hanks, 2016 Co-Head Coach: “The whole team honestly, we had the best running back in the state and school history, best O-lineman, and had a terrific leader at QB who was determined to win.”

Joe Creer, 2016 Assistant Coach: “To be honest, the very best MVP ever was Eric Wilson. He worked hard, he believed, he was a leader on and off the field. To watch him grow was something else.”

Eric Wilson, 2016 Offensive Lineman & Captain: “Personally, I think it is hard to imagine our team getting anywhere near the state championship without Ricky Floyd. And to that end, Ricky could be considered the MVP of BSM football in general. Without Ricky leading by example on the field and being such a great and dependable player, it is hard to know whether the BSM program would have blossomed like it has over the past few years.”

Wait, We’re Winning?

Players+and+managers+stand+in+line+during+the+national+anthem.

Photo courtesy of Sedona Brown

Players and managers stand in line during the national anthem.

The history of BSM football was pretty weak. Most teams prior to 2015 had gone winless or had one or two wins. The thought of going to state was pretty ambitious, until the team made it in 2015. At the time, it was a huge accomplishment and one that would be tough to follow up on, so a state championship in 2016 was a pretty far-fetched idea. Little did the Red Knights know, the team was going to steamroll the competition en route to the section playoffs, which they would also win. To even their own surprise, the team made it to the state final and won.

Pat Kalb, 2016 Defensive Lineman: “All my previous teams sucked.”

Shay Kinney, Class of 2019: “Honestly, nobody really cared. I know that sounds kinda bad, but nobody really did, they were absolute trash. I don’t think anybody really cared until they won, or got good.”

Sedona Brown, 2016 Manager: “I think that the season before the state championship helped the boys see what they had the potential to do. They made it to state the year before but got knocked out early; I think they saw that and just wanted more and knew that they had the skill to get it done.”

Joe Creer, 2016 Assistant Coach: “There’s actually a video from before the season, and I told [the team] how our season was going to go. I said we were going to have a good season, but we were going to struggle against Armstrong and Holy Angels, and we lost against both of those teams in the regular season that year. But I knew how we were going to finish.”

Joe Marinaro, 2016 Running Back: “No one had picked us to even make state, and we were an underdog in every single game. So, while we were nervous, we knew that we were going to win.”

Eric Wilson, 2016 Offensive Lineman & Captain: “Honestly, the thought had never really crossed my mind until the section playoff schedule was released. I saw we had an opportunity to make it to the state tournament. After winning the section and seeing the great teams in the state tournament, however, I had my doubts again. But like I have said time and time again, being with my teammates and feeling the energy we had before each of those games made me realize how possible it was that we could win a state championship.” 

BSM 31-Winona 28

The+defensive+lineman+jumps+offsides%2C+getting+the+Red+Knights+closer+to+securing+the+victory.

Photo courtesy of Jack Shields

The defensive lineman jumps offsides, getting the Red Knights closer to securing the victory.

BSM football had never won a state championship before November 25, 2016. So, in a roller-coaster game that featured countless ups and downs––injuries, turnovers, and big plays––the Red Knights were able to overcome adversity and not lose sight of their season’s goal: a state championship. Even when star running back Ricky Floyd went down and fans thought it was over, the team persisted. Unexpected stars emerged, fans kept faith, and the coaches didn’t stray from their gameplan.

Liam Ford’s heroics were a key part of the unexpected success in the championship game; he ran for two touchdowns and also had two interceptions and emerged as the unforeseen star of the game. Braden Fitzgerald delivered a huge momentum-changing hit on the Winona quarterback that got the crowd fired up. Alex Houlihan played almost every position on the field. John Witmore had a pick-six just before half time. Everyone did their part to help win the title. When BSM players, coaches, and fans started realizing that they may be state champions, feelings of disbelief, excitement, and thankfulness overwhelmed them. 

John Whitmore, 2016 Linebacker: “We just treated it like it was another game, we knew what we needed to get done.”

Pat Kalb, 2016 Defensive Lineman: “The lights in the bank were very bright and it took a moment for everyone to adjust. The turf was so bouncy and the ceiling was high.” 

Ricky Floyd, 2016 Running Back: “My injury happened on my second carry of the state championship game, the game I couldn’t sleep about I was so ready to play. It was a run play to the right; I got past the line of scrimmage and on my blind side, as I turned my head to the left, a linebacker ducked his helmet and drove it straight into my shoulder. It happened so fast I couldn’t feel it at first, but as I was trying to get up off the ground, I pressed down on the turf, and my left arm went limp, and I could feel my bone sticking out. The trainer, Percy [Botchway], helped me off the field and took me back to the locker room. He told me I tore my AC joint and that if I went back in I would tear it completely. It hurt to not be able to play with them after the hard work we put in during the offseason and the regular season, but it made it all worth it––winning state and going down in history.”

Eric Wilson, 2016 Offensive Lineman: “Before the game I was calm but a little nervous. I knew we would have to play well to beat a good Winona team. When Ricky injured his shoulder in the first few minutes of the game, however, is when I had my first doubts about whether we could pull off the victory. He was our best player. Those few doubts faded quickly when I realized our team was gritty enough to figure something out. Whether it be Alex Houlihan playing 20 positions or Liam Ford filling in at running back, trust in our team is what pushed any doubts and nerves out of my mind.” 

Joe Creer, 2016 Assistant Coach: “Unlike everyone else in the stadium, when Ricky got hurt, my goal as a coach was to make it to half time, then make adjustments. It was never thought that we weren’t gonna win it, we knew we were gonna win it. We had to make some sideline adjustments but then told everyone to keep their confidence up.”

Pat Krieger, 2016 Co-Head Coach: “When we intercepted the ball that sealed the game, that moment stood out because the other team had a chance of winning, so once we had the ball, it was like a moment of relief.”

Eric Wilson, 2016 Offensive Lineman: “[In the last seconds of game,] I experienced feelings of disbelief. It was the proudest I have ever been of an accomplishment, regardless of being a team or individual one, because such a significant amount of time and effort was put into that season by so many great people.”

Mark Whitmore, Parent and 2016 Booster Club President: “After every game, you’re a little bit thankful because you know your kid didn’t get hurt, but when you win the state championship and realize it’s something that the school has never done in a hundred years, you’re just so thankful. It’s an experience you’ll never forget.”

Joe Marinaro, 2016 Running Back and Linebacker: I cannot describe it.  I was so, so happy, even though I didn’t even play in the championship game. I am just so grateful I got to be a part of that team.

Joe Creer, 2016 Assistant Coach: “When we won state, I still didn’t believe it. It was hard to believe that we won. I kept saying, ‘Pinch me.'”

Sea of Red

Photo courtesy of Jack Shields

BSM students get rowdy in the stands following the win.

Sea of Red

When the new squad was constructed in the fall of 2016 after countless seasons of coming up just short and missing playoffs, a new hope was brought amongst the team. A sense of a new beginning and a fresh start had loomed over the players, this was their year. From the shared respect amongst the players and staff to the love and support from the entire student section and parents, the atmosphere became indescribable. 

Before the Game:

Jon Hanks, 2016 Co-Head Coach: “Before the game, it was probably the most electric room I’ve been apart of. We were about to release the hounds.”

Ricky Floyd, 2016 Running Back:The locker room before the game was fun; we were happy and blasting music as we did every game, but this time in the Vikings locker room.”

Bill Cheney, 2016 Team Statistician:The atmosphere was crazy, seeing the sections of fans filling the lower bowl, and the excitement leading up to it made it so exciting. The kids were amped, but a lot of them hit an extreme focus once they got on the bus. Coaches were prepared, they had worked so hard to put the players into a position to succeed that it was time to start the clock and let them play.”

Sedona Brown, 2016 Manager: “It was crazy walking through the tunnel, seeing the lights and the enormity of the stadium. The fan section was the biggest it had ever been and there were a lot of people that didn’t even go to Benilde that came to support. It was very loud and almost felt like a movie when you were standing on the sidelines watching the plays unfold. I think there was like this energy that the team had, it was almost like you could feel it, everyone just wanted to win so badly and they were willing to do whatever they had to make it happen.”

During the Game: 

John Landry, 2016 Linebacker: “It was one of the coolest experiences of my life. I remember how shocked I was when I was on the field.  As a receiver, I couldn’t even hear the quarterback count.” 

Noah Layton, 2016 Freshman Player: “It was crazy to be on that big of a stage even if I didn’t play. The atmosphere and experience is something I will never forget.” 

Shay Kinney, 2018 Graduate: “Two words: absolutely electric. It was probably the most energetic crowd I had been a part of at a BSM game of any sport. I don’t think there was one person in that crowd that wasn’t amping. It was an amazing atmosphere.”

Elijah Brown, 2016 Freshman Player: “It was the first year the US Bank Stadium [was open]. It was loud, and it was electric.”

Aaron Latterell, 2020 Graduate:As an underclassman, I didn’t get the full experience, but I could definitely tell there was an electricity in the air. People had the faces on the sticks and signs and it was just generally rowdy. It was just really hype, incredible energy, we had a great group of guys out there.”

Henry Bird, 2018 Graduate: “We’d come really close the year before to winning, and I think a lot of people went in excited but bracing themselves for if we lost. Minnesota sports teams are known to lose-a lot-so I know a lot of my friends were excited but were pretty concerned. So when we came out strong and started to win, you could just feel the energy growing in the stands, and it kept up throughout the entire game.”

Eric Wilson, 2016 Captain: “It was crazy. I could have never dreamed of playing in a setting like that and having a huge fan section made the experience unreal. In reality, though, I also loved playing games even when we played in a subpar stadium with very little fans. It made the experience of rallying together even more significant.”

Mark Whitmore, Parent and 2016 Booster Club President:  “I’ll never forget the first half that was some of the most fun we [parents] have ever had.” 

Pat Kalb, 2016 Defensive Lineman: “In the final two minutes, Liam Ford got a big interception that sealed the deal, I remember how loud the crowd was at that time, you couldn’t hear a thing.” 

John Whitmore, 2016 Sophomore Starter: “[In the final seconds I kept thinking,] I can’t believe we’re really going to do this.”

After the Game:

Pat Kreiger, 2016 Co-Head Coach: “Surreal. First state championship for BSM, all the hard work and excitement came together to make a great atmosphere.”

Ricky Floyd, 2016 Running Back: “The only word I can think to use to describe the locker room after is electric.”

Sedona Brown, 2016 Manager: “After the game, it was the greatest feeling ever, everyone was embracing everyone and sharing the moment. once we got to the locker room you could hear the boys yelling and singing, the music was blasting. Obviously, [the managers] weren’t in the locker room, but you could hear them and the music from down the hall. It was so amazing because we finally did it after proving so many people wrong.”

 

Memorable Moments of a Memorable Season

Coming from an average 5-3 regular season record, the 2016 BSM boys’ football team is known for their state championship win. With the electric plays and the way the fans rallied around the team, there wasn’t a dull moment. Although many people may only remember the final score, the players, parents, coaches, and fans will remember the events that highlight the season.

Pre-Championship:

Eric Wilson, 2016 Captain: “To me, the most memorable moment from that championship season was not something that happened on the field, but rather the moment when a lot of us bleached our hair before the state playoffs. Doing this was what really made me feel like we had come together as a tight-knit group of guys. Because even though people could have been self-conscious about looking odd for the next few months with bleached hair, a lot of the players put those concerns aside and made it a great bonding experience.”

Photo courtesy of Ricky Floyd
MVP Ricky Floyd hurdles the opposing player to gain the first down and extend the lead for the Red Knights.

Ricky Floyd, 2016 Running Back: “The most memorable moment of the season was hurdling my defender on a late throw from Tommy Anderson. The ball stayed in the air for a bit. I caught it and noticed I had a good amount of distance from him: about 15 yards. As I was running down our team’s sideline I started slowing down so I could time the jump right, while I was in the air I could see my teammates in awe and when I came down I just kept running.”

Joe Marinaro, 2016 Running Back and Linebacker: “Also playing Scout Team D in practice every day with Michael Schmitt, Owen Brown, and Max Byzewski was so much fun. Also playing Scout Team D in practice every day with Michael Schmitt, Owen Brown, and Max Byzewski was so much fun.”

Elijah Brown, 2016 Freshman Lineman: “Being able to be apart of the football family, and being hit by Eric Wilson in practice made me feel apart of the team and apart of the family.”

Mark Whitmore, Parent and 2016 Booster Club President: “The whole build-up to the state game was all about Ricky because he was spectacular, and the second play of the game he got hurt and separated his shoulder, so the whole game plan changed.”  

The Championship:

Shay Kinney, 2019 Graduate: “Right after winning really. I just remember the whole team going for the trophy and us going absolutely wild. Hugging and a few tears here and there. It was really surreal.”

John Whitmore, 2016 Sophomore Starter: “I remember my pick 6 that I had and Liam Ford’s touchdown run.” 

Pat Krieger, 2016 Co-Head Coach: “Championship game, when we intercepted the ball that sealed the game. That moment stood out because the other team had a chance of winning so once we had the ball it was like a moment of relief. 31-28.”

Sedona Brown, 2016 Manager: “The other team had the ball, and there wasn’t much time left in the last quarter so we needed a stop. The quarterback had thrown the ball and one of the defensive backs at the time read the play and intercepted the ball and ran it back for a touchdown. It was in that moment that we all knew that we had just won the first-ever championship in BSM football history.”

Mark Whitmore, Parent and 2016 Booster Club President: “My most vivid memory was the kids running out on the field after it was over.”

John Landry, 2016 Wide Reciever: “My favorite moment was winning but ultimately the way we were able to battle when things didn’t go our way was really cool.”

Pat Kalb, 2016 Defensive Lineman: “My favorite memory was when Braden Fitzgerald made a huge hit on the QB during a scramble, the whole crowd went, ‘Ooooooo.'”

John Hanks, 2016 Co-Head Coach: “When Liam Ford stepped in and scored two TDs, most memorable moment was when he scored the 27-yard touchdown.”

George Wolfe, 2016 Linebacker: “The Liam Ford touchdown run after Ricky got hurt showed we can stay in the game and compete” 

Ricky Floyd, 2016 Running Back:The most memorable moment for me was when Liam Ford got the game-sealing pick and our team going crazy on the sidelines. That was when we knew we had done it.”

After the Championship:

Joe Marinaro, 2016 Running Back and Linebacker: “The locker rooms before and after the games (especially in US Bank) were electric.”

Noah Layton, 2016 Defensive Lineman: “My favorite memory was celebrating with the other freshman in the locker room after we won.” 

Joe Creer, 2016 Assistant Coach:  “It was so cool to look up in the bleachers behind you and see all the players you’ve ever coached cheering for you, and we couldn’t have done it without them. They taught us what we needed to do to be state-winning coaches.”

Jerry Pettinger, Athletic Director: “There was a great BSM crowd, lots of red and white, lots of alums. The players were composed before the game and serious, but after, it was a crazy celebration.”

Bill Cheney, 2016 Team Statistician: “I think the most memorable moment was the moments after the game, sprinting to the elevator and meeting the players on the field to celebrate. Seeing so many young adults reach this historic goal, and knowing they did it for each other, not for themselves was a powerful moment. The hugs and conversations on that field are moments I’ll never forget––couldn’t have happened to a better group of kids.”

 

Faith in Football

Current+seniors+Elijah+Brown+and+Nick+Peterson+encourage+one+another+during+a+game+this+season.+

Photo courtesy of Elijah Brown

Current seniors Elijah Brown and Nick Peterson encourage one another during a game this season.

The Benilde St. Margaret’s football team has always been seen as a strong team—not only for their recordbut their team chemistry as well as how they incorporate faith into the game. Although they come to play their best, they also come to be a family and challenge each other to be better, which is what makes the Red Knights who they are. From making goals in the beginning of the season, team dinners, and praying together before games, team traditions are still present today, bringing the players closer together to truly make them a family. 

Joe Creer, 2016 Assistant Coach: “Our head coach (Jon Hanks) meets with the seniors in August before the season starts. They all write a list of goals for the year, and then combine them to make a team list. The goals this year were to go undefeated, win sections, and win state.”

Eric Wilson, 2016 Captain: I think what made this team special was the way different types of individuals came together and rallied around the central theme of playing football together. There were a lot of different types of kids on that team, but differences were set aside whenever we stepped on the field. It made us a closer group that cared a lot about each other.

Jerry Pettinger, Athletic Director: “I love how the team, right from the end of the day at 2:40 had prayer, ate together, and got totally prepared and zoned in for the game. The same also goes for the coaches and staff. This tradition has been proven and carries through today.”

Ricky Floyd, 2016 Running Back: “The team chemistry was perfect simply because we’ve been tight since freshman year. All those practices, tough losses and brutal games bring you closer, we saw everyone like a brother.”

Eric Wilson, 2016 Captain: “Being a Red Knight football player truly is a bond that will last a lifetime. In these two and a half years out of high school, I have continued to stay close to a lot of those teammates, many times laughing and reminiscing about moments associated with our senior season of football.”

Mark Whitmore, Parent and 2016 Booster Club President: “One thing about the Benide football program is they are all about being a family and that’s exactly what they showed.”

Nick Peterson, Current Senior Quarterback: “The team chemistry was at an all-time high this past season. We all got along very well this past summer.” 

Pat Krieger, 2016 Co-Head Coach: “To be a Red Knight football player, a person has to be dedicated. It is a hard sport and comes with a lot of practice. Playing the games and throughout practice, the players learn a lot about themselves, teamwork, and accountability. There are skills in football that carry over to life, like communicating with other people and teamwork.”

 

 

Propelling Forward

Today%2C+a+banner+commemorating+the+2016+championship+victory+hangs+in+the+Haben+Center.+

Morgan Williams

Today, a banner commemorating the 2016 championship victory hangs in the Haben Center.

After a miraculous 2016 championship season, the Red Knights developed greatness––which set the team as a class 4A powerhouse.  Since then, there has been a new set of expectations for future players. A performance of championship-caliber is now certainly attainable; the bar has been raised tremendously for the overall success of teams to come. BSM has embarked on a new mission with new players ready to take home a second title.

Eric Wilson, 2016 Captain: “That game and that season in general really taught me what it was like to help grow something from the ground up. It taught me no matter how hard a season may seem, if you pull together with your team you can make anything happen. From a team record standpoint, my first three seasons at Harvard have not been what I have wanted them to be. Any game we have lost in the past two years has been by one possession, but still, I know that we can make something special happen next year. We did it in high school by banding together, and that experience influenced me in always knowing good things will come to those who work for them.” 

Shay Kinney, 2019 Graduate: “Now we have a way bigger football culture. I think people actually care about the team now. I mean, nobody would go to the games and then the next year we would pack the stands for almost every game. There was just an overall more respect for the program.”

Pat Kalb, 2016 Defensive Lineman: “The year after we were the team to beat, everyone was coming for our heads.”

Joe Creer, 2016 Assistant Coach: “When you win a championship, a lot of kids want to come play for you. A lot of athletic kids have come through the doors since then.”

Jerry Pettinger, Athletic Director: “Also, any time our school wins a championship, there is always an added amount of attraction. With this tradition, and the win, attraction increased.”

Eric Wilson, 2016 Captain: “I think any state championship can have a tremendous impact on a football program if leveraged the right way. Coach Hanks, Coach Krieger, Coach Creer, the rest of the coaching staff, and BSM itself did an incredible job of using that win to skyrocket the program to being a powerhouse AAAA contender every year.”

Nick Peterson, 2019 Starting Quarterback: “I think the expectation of being a good and continuing success was there. The impact it had on me, made me work harder and want me to be able to contribute to the team’s success.” 

Bill Cheney, 2016 Team Statistician: “I think we have a chance to make it to state every year we put the pads on. Our students work so hard, from offseason lifting, to FAST, to the season itself. Our coaches dedicate so much time and effort to put them in a position to succeed. I think the BSM football program exemplifies some of the strong points of our school (community/family, faith, servant leadership, and a pursuit of excellence) very well.”

Jerry Pettinger, Athletic Director: “We’ve had some amazing regular seasons afterward. It was a huge confidence booster. The championship team was 5-3 in regular season (fairly average) and now we go nearly undefeated.”

Joe Marinaro, 2019 Captain: “I knew exactly how hard I needed to work if I even wanted to TRY to replicate that success.”

Eric Wilson, 2016 Captain: “Since that season, it has become more and more the case that I don’t wonder if the team will win on a given Friday night, but instead wonder by how much will they win.”

Fun Football Facts

Malaki+Johnson%2C+Ricky+Floyd%2C+and+Ikenna+Ujuagu+enjoyed+a+post+game+photo+with+team+managers+Elsa+Beise+and+Sedona+Brown.

Photo courtesy of Sedona Brown

Malaki Johnson, Ricky Floyd, and Ikenna Ujuagu enjoyed a post game photo with team managers Elsa Beise and Sedona Brown.

A lot of people know about the Red Knight’s 2016 championship game and season. However, some may not be able to understand the significance of this game, but hopefully, the following facts help to emphasize its importance. From the parent’s point of view to halftime motivational speeches, there is more to this game than just the win.

Joe Creer, 2016 Assistant Coach: “Ricky’s freshman year was his first year of football ever. He had never played before.”

Ricky Floyd, 2016 Running Back: “[My hurdle] was big for me because there was a lot of talk on who was the best back from Minnesota, and I wanted to make a statement.”

Mark Whitmore, Parent and 2016 Booster Club President: “In the semi-finals, we had beat Marshall who was undefeated and rated number one in 4A but also rated number two of all schools in Minnesota. Their quarterback now starts for North Dakota State, and they had an offensive lineman who is a three-year starter for the Gophers to give you a perspective.” 

Joe Marinaro, 2016 Running Back: “During halftime of the championship game, I think we were tied, and MN Fats (Elijah’s dad) came in to give us a halftime speech, which was awesome.”

Joe Creer, 2016 Assistant Coach: “We knew Ricky was the fastest running back in the state, and he had broken the state record the year before for most touchdowns in a game (which is seven). Ricky is tied for that record still with a kid from DeLasalle. He was also five yards short from breaking the most yards run in a game. Five to tie it, six to break it, and that game was against St. Louis Park.”

Henry Bird, 2018 Graduate: “Ikenna Ujuagu was trucking kids the entire season. So much fun to watch.”

Bill Cheney, 2016 Team Statistician: “I was up in the coaches’ box, doing live stats for the game. I was sitting with both coordinators. We were on the field for pre-game, then took an elevator up to where the NFL coordinators sit. I joked that I was sitting in the seat Norv Turner just got fired from.”

Ricky Floyd, 2016 Running Back: “My mentality as a football player I feel was my strength through the season. It’s cool to know your abilities and to know what you’re capable of and have the rest of the world clueless. I’m not cocky or arrogant; I’m just silent but deadly; that’s how you win against your opponent––I’ve always done my talking on the field. A lot of people wonder why I never really celebrated after a touchdown or anything this is just my mentality.”

Joe Marinaro, 2016 Running Back: “No Flockin’ was the theme song of the championship run.”

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