St. Cloud – Less than two weeks ago, Riley Donovan was batting leadoff for Kasson-Mantorville’s Class 2A state championship baseball team. Saturday he led the South team to a 24-14 victory over the North in the 40th annual Minnesota all-star football game at St. Cloud State University.
Donovan, a wide receiver who will play at the University of South Dakota this fall, caught four passes for 70 yards and scored the game-clinching touchdown on a 4-yard end around in the fourth quarter.
“It wasn’t hard to get ready to play,” said Donovan, named the Offensive MVP of the South team. “Football is my first love. Getting the chance to play with great players all around, it’s easy to be ready.”
The North scored first on an 8-yard pass from Jordan Hein of Perham to Jake Wieneke of Maple Grove. The South answered with 24 points in a row, getting a field goal from St. Thomas’ Wyatt Schmidt and touchdowns from Eric Birth of Winona and J.T. Den Hartog of Hopkins before Donovan’s score.
The North got another late touchdown from the Hein-to-Wieneke connection for the game’s final score.
“Winning this is a big deal,” Den Hartog said. “It was a real football game. It’s not the state championship, but you always want to win whenever you play.”
It was the 20th time the game had been played with a North vs. South format. With the victory, the South took a 10-9-1 series lead.
• As fine as his high school season was, St. Thomas Academy’s Wyatt Schmidt of the South team thought his football career was over. He was perfect as a kicker in 2012, going 15-for-15 on field goal attempts and 39-for-39 on extra points. He even won the Herbalife National Kicker of the Year award. Division I teams, including Minnesota, could not help but notice.
But Schmidt had other ideas. Schmidt, who played on the Cadets’ Class 1A state hockey championship team, will play junior hockey for Brookings (S.D.) of the NAHL.
“I like football, but hockey has always been my love,” Schmidt said. “I owe it to myself to see how far I can go with it. I don’t want to have any regrets later on.”
Schmidt strapped on football pads for one last time Saturday, kicking and playing linebacker for the South team. Feeling a bit rusty — “Last week, I kicked for the first time since last fall,” he said — his perfect run of kicks came to an end when he barely missed a 39-yard field goal into the wind. He had kicked a 36-yard field goal earlier and booted three extra points.
“It’s a little bit disappointing because I thought it looked good,” he said. “But it’s a great way to go out. I came here and made 80 new friends. That’s what this is all about.”
• Football has always been Sean Scharlau’s sport of choice. After the death of his father to cancer last summer, it has become more than just a game to the St. Michael-Albertville lineman. It’s his motivation.
“My dad pushed me to get better in football,” said Scharlau, who played offensive tackle for the North. “After he died, I started putting more effort into everything I do. I play football for him.”