Spring Grove's Alex Folz (8) led the Lions to their first 9-Man title in program history and returns as a two-way starter and kicker for Spring Grove. Photo by Trevor Squire, SportsEngine
Even before making his varsity football debut for Spring Grove as an eighth-grader, Alex Folz was well-known in the southeastern Minnesota town of approximate 1,300 people.
Folz made back-to-back appearances in the national round of the NFL Punt, Pass and Kick competition, including winning the 13-year-old division. He was later honored on national television at a Denver Broncos game, and just hours after returning to Spring Grove, Folz was greeted by community members as he arrived at the school to play in a basketball game.
"Everyone I walked by was congratulating me and they were happy that Spring Grove was up on the big screen," Folz said. "They were all so welcoming back."
Folz hopes to bring his team back to the Prep Bowl, but with just three returning starters and 22 players on this year's roster, he'll need more than skill and leadership to do so. Staying healthy and having the inexperienced players hone their talents will be vital to the Lions' success.
Folz took time out of preparing for the season to talk with the MN Football Hub about his achievements and his future plans.
MN Football Hub: How did beating Grand Meadow in the playoffs compare to winning the state title?
AF: The feeling after Grand Meadow was relief — we got over that hump after losing five straight years. To finally beat them and get past that was relief and winning the state title it was more of a 'Wow, it’s finally happening.'
MN Football Hub: What’s the difference between nine-man and 11-man football?
AF: The field is smaller and so is the amount of players on the field. It mostly comes down to being prepared. You don’t have 50- or 100-man rosters, so if someone goes down, you need to be prepared to fill that position. Everyone needs to have an understanding of every position.
Editor's note: Nine-man games in Minnesota are played on a field 80 or 100 yards long and 40 yards wide. In 11-on-11 football, standard field size is 100 yards long and 53 1/3 yards wide.
MN Football Hub: Are you being recruited, and if so, what position?
AF: I’ve talked with people saying they’re interested: Minnesota State Moorhead, Winona State, Bemidji State, St. Cloud State and a lot of (Division) III schools. They’re mostly scouting me as an athlete, and I’ll play whatever spot they need me to.
MN Football Hub: If someone sent you one of your trading cards, would you sign it for them?
AF: Whenever parents bring it up to me, I'll pull one from my deck and autograph them... A year ago, I got a letter from a college coach out east who was really into football. He saw my name and remembered me and asked if I could sign one of those cards and send it to him.
I can’t turn down a cookies and cream shake from Caribou (Coffee). I have to get the biggest one every time and drink that as quick as possible.
MN Football Hub: What's the one thing you like to do when no one's watching?
AF: Run. I love going for runs. It’s a peaceful time to think, listen to music and be by myself. I used to run just to see if I could — build some endurance — so now I try to run six days a week, usually two and a half miles.
MN Football Hub: What's your dream for after graduation?
AF: It isn’t as clear right now as it could be. Ever since I was little I’ve always wanted to play in the NFL. The more clear dream is being about getting through college, graduate and get a steady job and not have to worry about anything. I’m interested in sports medicine, physical therapy or being an athletic trainer — Just want to stay around sports because I love it so much.