Minnesota Sting football team earns national championship invite
The Minnesota Sting - a minor league football team based out of East Ridge High School - earned an invitation to play in the American Football News Today AA national championship game in January in Homestead, Fla.
"It's a big honor for these guys," said Sting offensive coordinator Bryan Wrich, who is a 1995 graduate of Park High School. "We want to go south and come back with a win. It'd be great for these guys to come back with a national championship trophy."
The Sting finished the summer season as the No. 1 ranked AA football team in the nation, according to the American Football News Today, after going 11-0 and winning a second consecutive Minnesota Premier Football League championship title with a 50-0 thrashing of Brainerd at East Ridge High School two weeks ago. The Sting defeated Brainerd 27-0 last year for their first league championship in their three- year existence.
This summer, the Sting outscored their opponents 523-104 overall - an average of 48-9 - in 11 games played.
"It was a fun year," said Wrich. "The guys were even more focused this year. They knew what we needed to do. We came close last year. When we started the season with OTA's that was a big goal - get that No. 1 ranking. It was a high priority."
The Sting plays in the Minnesota Premier Football League with other teams from across Minnesota --EMDASH-- the Brainerd Lumberjacks, the Midwest Nightmare, the Twin Cities Titans, the Granite City Renegades, the West Central Broncos, the Minnesota Phoenix and the Carlton County Stampede. Vice President of Operations Brad Asplund and team President Aaron Anderson co-founded the Sting in 2009.
A majority of the team's players are recent high school graduates and the roster is full of players hoping to advance into Arena League Football, the Canadian Football League or gain college scholarships. Some, however, are just trying to play football as much as they can for as long as they can.
The Sting have a number of locals on the roster, including Park graduate Brandon Johnson, first-year defensive end Uzoma Obasi, a Hill-Murray School graduate who grew up in Woodbury, and Jordan LaDouceur, who currently lives in Woodbury.
Wrich, who played football for Minnesota State University - Mankato, said the organization has admired the St. Paul Pioneers football team, which plays AAA football and has had a lot of success out of the Northern Elite Football League.
"We're trying to establish being another Minnesota powerhouse like they are," Wrich said. "We look up to them as the blueprint. We're trying to do that too."
Following the league championship win, the Sting players are taking some time off to rest and recuperate. The Sting will now focus on fundraising to cover the traveling cost of the national championship game. Wrich said the Sting doesn't know yet who they'll face for the title. However, the No. 2-ranked team in AA is the Southern Ohio Buckeyes, who were 11-0 in the Northern Frontier Football League, outscoring opponents 473-34 on the year.
"The biggest thing for our guys is to get a chance to put in some hard core training against one specific opponent," Wrich said. "That'd be a lot of fun."
No matter who they play, however, Wrich can't wait for the championship game.
"Who wouldn't be excited about going to south Florida in January?" he said.