Pigskin in the spring; Amateur football team comes to Wescott Athletic Complex
Published 11:04 am Monday, May 23, 2016
The Southeast Minnesota Warhawks have brought spring amateur nine-man football to Wescott Athletic Complex, and they’re also bringing a little camaraderie with them.
The team will play in the Southern Plains Football League, which has teams from Minnesota, Iowa and South Dakota. The Warhawks feature players from Austin, Rochester, Owatonna and Dodge Center.
Team manager Ryle Chilson, who is a Triton grad, said Austin turned out to be a great location to start the team, which will play at Wescott the next three Saturdays at 4 p.m.
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The Warhawks have young players who have recently graduated high school and are hoping to play college football and veterans in their late 20s and 30s who still love playing the game.
“I wanted to play college ball, but I never got the chance to. I guess this is my college where I go out and put it all out on the field,” Warhawks quarterback Anthony Adamson, who is originally from Illinois, said. “That’s what I missed about football was the family aspect. To get together as a team and work just brings us all together.”
The Wahawks are coached by Anthony Jackson, who has seven years of SPFL and NEFL experience as a player. He played for the Rochester Giants, the Dodge County Outlaws and the Steele County Warriors and he made the switch to coaching this spring.
“I thought I could help the team out better by coaching. It’s a work in progress and we’re getting better every week,” Jackson said. “There’s a lot of athletic talent out there. If you can play in this league, you can play in most colleges, I’d say.”
While it includes as many hard hits as any football game, the SPFL also offers solid sportsmanship and a feeling of mutual respect between opposing squads.
Teams shake hands after games and they all get together for a post-game prayer at the 50-yard line when everything is finished. The Warhawks also have bowling outings, nights where the team gets together on the football field to run routes, and they have a team message board where they can chat it up with each other during the week.
Mike Hoeper, who graduated from Austin High school in 2009, said he finds himself getting pumped up for games early in the week.
“It takes forever,” Hoeper said. “Sunday through Friday you get that itch and you’re ready for game day.”
Hoeper wants the league to grow and give a chance for younger players to keep playing after high school. He has played in the league for a few years now and he’s gone against some tough talent.
“There’s a lot of great talent out here and it’s really fun to compete with everybody,” Hoeper said.
The SPFL has teamed up with another amateur football league in Oregon and they take turns hosting a championship game between the winners of the two leagues. This year the championship game will be held in Oregon.
The cost to attend a Warhawks game is $6 and children under 13 can watch for free. Players on the team must be at least 18 years old, they must sign an injury waiver to play and they must commit to their team for the entire season.