Football

Minnesota parents find a way: High school all-star football game set for Saturday at St. John’s

Minnesota parents find a way: High school all-star football game set for Saturday at St. John's

There will be a Minnesota high school senior all-star football game after all.

In the wake of the annual game being canceled, a grass-roots effort of parents has spawned a game that will take place Saturday at noon at Clemens Stadium on the campus of St. John’s University in Collegeville.

In early May, the Minnesota Football Coaches Association (MFCA) announced it was cancelling its annual all-star game, citing the pressures and restraints imposed by COVID-19.

The game, which had been played in various incarnations since 1974, had most recently been played in December in U.S. Bank Stadium, reflecting high-profile sponsorship and promotion from the Minnesota Vikings.

The 2020 game, initially scheduled for December, was postponed, coming during the pause on youth sports imposed by Gov. Tim Walz at the time. Efforts to reschedule it for June were unsuccessful.

But some parents weren’t about to let the game go. Invitations to the game, a coveted prize among senior high school football players, had already been announced. Rosters were set.

The effort was led by Crystal Ziebarth of Cambridge, whose son Gaven was an all-state running back and had committed to North Dakota. According to the St. Cloud Times, she and a few other determined parents raised $33,000 to reschedule the game. St. John’s stepped in and agreed to let them hold the game at vaunted Clemens Stadium.

“If I have learned anything over the past year, it is that we DO have the power and innovation to work together for these kids and make things happen,” Crystal Ziebarth wrote in a post on the Let Them Play MN Facebook page. “It just didn’t feel right to take this experience from the boys after all they had already lost.”

The game will be played in its usual North vs. South format. Pequot Lakes coach Bill Magnuson will coach the South team. Rocori assistant coach Shannon Humbert will coach the North.

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