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Dwindling youth pipeline puts Minneapolis football on edge

By JIM PAULSEN, Star Tribune, 09/20/19, 4:00PM CDT


With rosters thinned by a drop in programs for junior-high athletes, city coaches are often recruiting players based on perceived athleticism because they’ve had little exposure to fundamental football skills that are a staple of suburban youth programs.

Minneapolis South players practiced on their new turf surface Wednesday evening. They will play the first school homecoming game under the lights on Friday night.Photo: JEFF WHEELER • jeff.wheeler@startribune.com

The number of players on the field for any Minneapolis South football practice can vary, from the low 30s to a possible 40 or more, but never reaches the full 49 listed on the official roster.

“Forty-seven now,” says coach Rodney Lossow. “We had two more kids quit.”

Participation in Minneapolis Park Board football has declined significantly and tackle football at Minneapolis middle schools has dried up. And the effects are being felt by high school teams.

Most suburban teams inherit a large percentage of their players from community youth programs. Those players often come equipped with a basic knowledge of football: positioning, technique, verbiage. Basic fundamentals.

But in the city, many are recruited by coaches simply through perceived athleticism. Often, the high school program is their first exposure to the rigors of football.
With already limited rosters, Minneapolis high school football coaches are frequently left shorthanded, without viable substitutes in game situations.

Read Jim Paulsen's full story here.

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