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Amateur football: Huskerz expect big things in first year

WORTHINGTON — The inaugural season of the Southwest Huskerz football team has yet to begin, and exactly where it will play its home games is still to be determined. But head coach Ken McCuen isn’t mincing any words about where he hopes his amateur football team is headed.

“We’re an expansion team, first of all, in the SFPL. Normally, hopes for an expansion team aren’t really high,” McCuen remarked this week.

Recruitment, however, has been highly successful.

“Our expectation is to be national SPFL champions,” McCuen concluded.

To win a national championship, the Huskerz will need to win the Southern Plains Football League playoff championship and then beat the league champion from the state of Oregon. Action in the SPFL gets under way in earnest next Saturday, on April 12, as the Huskerz play a 2 p.m. preseason game against the Albert Lea Grizzlies in Forest City, Iowa.

McCuen’s optimism is based squarely on his roster and what he says is a top-flite organization from the ownership all the way down to the players. Playing for the Huskerz this spring will be college Division I players James Augustus (quarterback, University of South Dakota) and Darieon Smith (running back, University of Minnesota); former NFL wide receiver Trae Johnson (who was in camp with the Cleveland Browns); two-time national champion from the University of Sioux Falls and an All-American at Minnesota West Community and Technical College of Worthington, middle linebacker Demetrius Washington; two-time amateur league all-star linebacker/defensive lineman Jordan Bouw; and wide receiver/running back Khald Waters, who played arena football in Arkansas.

Several former Minnesota West players are members of the team. They include fullback Brad Bentle, offensive lineman Jake Steffl, fullback/tight end Andy Henning, offensive lineman/defensive lineman Jordan Schroeder, kicker Javier Jiminez and wide receiver Brett Doeden. Phil Nystrom, a safety who played at Dakota Wesleyan University, is also on the team, as is safety Rob Smith, who played with the Sioux City Bandits of the Arena Football League.

The Huskerz are still waiting to see whether they’ll play their home games at Trojan Field at Worthington High School or at the local middle school. They’re hoping to be approved for the high school field, and a decision on that is expected within a week or two.

The Huskerz have 33 players signed for the nine-man league, ranging from towns throughout southwest Minnesota and western South Dakota and northwest Iowa. There will be eight regular season games. Players received their helmets last week Friday and jerseys came on Wednesday. Colors will be red and gray and white and the helmets are a dull black.

There are nine teams in the SPFL.

“It’s a good league,” said owner Todd Schroeder. “Seven of the nine teams could wind up with the No. 1 seed at the end of the year.”

Doug Wolter

Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and seven grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He also writes books on fiction. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" have been distributed through a national publisher.

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