Larks will learn on the fly; Defending nine-man champs will have a new look this fall

Published 7:42 pm Monday, August 21, 2017

GRAND MEADOW —For the past five years, the Grand Meadow football team has been nearly unbeatable. The Superlarks have played in the last five Minnesota nine-man state football title games, they’ve won the last four state titles and they’ve racked up an active winning streak of 50 straight games.

But the Superlarks will have a much different look this season. GM graduated much of its firepower from last year’s team and the squad will have to replace plenty of starters from last year’s championship team.

For the first time in years, GM has a little uncertainty headed into the season. Heading into he year, GM head coach Gary Sloan said the only two starting spots he was 100 percent certain of was that senior Zach Myhre was going to play running back and senior Grant Skifter was going to play guard.

Grand Meadow’s Justin Kassel carries the ball in practice for the Superlarks Friday. Rocky Hulne/

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That doesn’t mean the Larks are desperate, it just means they’ll be different. GM has 42 players on the roster this fall and there are quite a few athletes who are ready to step up and contribute.

“I think we have a good idea of who’s going to play, it’s just a matter of what position they’re going play. Our biggest challenge is to find the right mix and get the right guys in the right positions,” Sloan said. “A lot of guys that are going to play for us aren’t really household names, but they’ve had some really good guys in front of them in past years. We’ve got some good juniors and seniors who haven’t been starters because of the guys that were in front of them.”

While some players would feel a little overwhelmed with the task of playing on a defending championship team, these Larks are taking it one day at a time. Senior wide receiver Justin Kassel is looking forward for a chance to get on the field for the Larks this fall after he watched from the sidelines for most of last year’s state title run.

“It’s a huge opportunity. There’s pressure there to show that we can do it, but I think we will fill in the spots,” Kassel said. “There’s a huge target on our back, but we’re a brand new team and this team hasn’t won any games.”

GM relied a lot on its senior class last season and the team will certainly miss Christophor Bain, who is now at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall. The squad also graduated its entire offensive line.

Ethan Lane attempts a pass for Grand Meadow in a practice in GM Monday. Rocky Hulne/

Myhre will likely pick up a lot of the offensive slack, but other players will have to show improvement as well if the Larks want to have a successful fall season.

“We’ve got to step up,” Nolan Skifter, a sophomore, said. “We’re filling in some really tough spots. We’re going to have to play as a team and not as individuals.”

One advantage the new-look Larks will have this season is that they’ve seen what it takes to be the best. They saw the work their predecessors put in to reach the highest level and now they’re ready to try and replicate that effort. Chance Hammermeister, a senior tight end, said the team is ready to show what lessons they’ve learned.

“I think we learned a lot from the graduating classes before us. They taught me a lot of what I know from watching them,” Hammermeister said. “We’ve got to out-work other teams.”

GM will open its season at Nicollet Aug. 31 and it will host Houston Sept. 8.