JASON GONZALEZ/Star Tribune - South football players rest during the first week of practice in late August.
"Change is tough. It will take work and time. I can understand [the skeptics]. But if don't try, we we don't know." - Minneapolis South football coach Lenny Sedlock
Twelve weeks ago Lenny Sedlock spoke of a dream for his football program. Lights flooded a capacity Friday-night crowd in south Minneapolis and able-bodied athletes in Tiger uniforms stuffed the sideline. The opponent across the field was Eden Prairie.
Sedlock dreamt big. The veteran coach is growing weary, after 10 years of supporting a slowly declining program plagued by challenges unique to his city school. If any tradition is to be salvaged, he believes it will require radical change.
Others in the football community call it fantasy, but the South coach and his athletic director Mark Sanders pursued the dream.
Today the City Conference team remains in the same position it was when Sedlock's campaign began. South's efforts to join the Lake Conference were stomped, leaving the program no choice but to continue to find ways around the usual challenges.
For the first time in Sedlock's tenure, he was forced to carry only three teams. Two of South's best athletes were among the many academically ineligible. With half of the team struggling to overcome daily challenges at home, in the classroom and on the streets, these are just a few of the hardships the group must play through.
The socioeconomic environment surrounding South requires Sedlock to operate his program in a very unusual way. Poor circumstances, poor results and poor facilities have pushed some of the community’s best athletes into other schools and made it nearly impossible for the talent that remains to consistently win. South must survive on whatever it can.
Through it all, the Tigers managed to win their 2012 season opener against Minneapolis Roosevelt. The group of athletes with something to prove wants more, though.
With this blog, I will guide you through this journey as the Tigers try to define themselves as a program of hope and success. I will be on the field, the sidelines and in the coach's office, learning what it's like to survive at South. Please follow along on the blog as we build toward our project publication date in late October. And please spread the word and interact by commenting or asking questions.
This week's Friday matchup:
Minneapolis South (1-0) at Minneapolis Washburn (1-0), 7 p.m.
Last year's result: Washburn won 45-6
Noteworthy: This is the first game Washburn's varsity team will play on its new turf surface.