Amateur football: Huskerz organizing in Worthington
WORTHINGTON —Before Todd Schroeder discovered what amateur football was all about, he had a few notions.
Schroeder is the owner of the Southwest Huskerz, an amateur football team to be stationed in Worthington in time for the 2014 season. There are still openings for players, but already on the Huskerz roster are Trae Johnson — a 32-year-old wide receiver who was once in the Cleveland Browns camp — and Darieon Smith, a 24-year-old running back who played one year for the Minnesota Gophers.
The roster is taking shape this fall.
About 25 athletes showed up on Sept. 22 for a Huskerz tryout. There will be another tryout on Oct. 19.
Nearly 30 players are on the roster today. Schroeder says he hopes to get between 35 and 40.
“We’re really excited about it. My coaches are really gung-ho,” Schroeder said.
Ken McCuen of Brandon, S.D., is the head coach and defensive coordinator. Brad Holinka is the offensive coordinator and “Mac” McNamara special teams coordinator. Tyler Larson is a special assistant coach.
Schroeder’s interest in amateur football began in earnest during the 2013 season of the Southern Plains Football League (SPFL). McCuen, a cousin of his, coached a team based in Hills and two of Schroeder’s sons played for the Hills team. They encouraged Schroeder to become intested in amateur football not just as a fan.
When the Huskerz begin their 2014 campaign, Schroder says three of his sons will play on the team.
The SPFL is a 9-man league and has been in existence for 17 years. Worthington once had a team, called the Razorbacks. The new Huskerz will be one of at least nine teams, with possibly three more coming in.
Games will begin in the last week of April and last throughout the spring and into the early part of summer. The playoff season begins in June and continues into July.
Worthington’s home field has yet to be finally determined, but the middle school field looks like a likely possibility at this point. The team remains in negotiations for Trojan Field — where the high school and community college teams play — and Schroeder said he recently increased his offer for rent.
Schroeder said the SPFL is reorganizing to increase its strength. A couple of the less successful teams will be dropped and some of those players will be moving to make the successful teams even more competitive.
The majority of SPFL players can already be called amateur football veterans — either within the SPFL ranks or at other organizations based in Sioux Falls, S.D. A smaller handful of players want to play, and can play, but didn’t have the opportunity until now.
Players must be 18 to play. Most are between the ages of 18 and 26.