The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Sports

September 7, 2013

'Long' offseason finally ends for Mavericks

MANKATO — It’s been the shortest offseasons in Minnesota State football history.

It was just Dec. 8 when the Mavericks were still on the field in the national semifinals, losing to Valdosta State.

That loss has also made for a long offseason.

“Everybody is really excited to get started,” Wolf said. “It’s been a long time since Valdosta. I think we’re ready.”

Minnesota State opens the season at 2:30 p.m. with a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference game against the University of Mary in Bismarck, N.D. Last season’s 13-1 record, conference championship and final-four berth has elevated preseason optimism to unprecedented levels.

“I really love this team,” coach Aaron Keen said. “I love the work ethic and attitude. The kids attack practice every day. I love the competitive nature of the athletes. I like seeing them in big games and watching them compete.”

So let the most anticipated season in a long time begin.

“I think we’re excited to play someone else,” Keen said. “There’s always a good focus on the first game, and I think it’s good for us to get away as a team, stay in a hotel and ride the bus and be around each other.”

The Mavericks have been getting a lot of attention, showing up at No. 2 on some national polls and being tabbed the favorite to win another Northern Sun and South Division championship.The team has been practicing for almost a month, showing Wolf that the same intensity exists that fueled the historic run of 2012.

“I hate long bus rides, but it shouldn’t affect us,” Wolf said. “We’re all pumped up for the first game. It doesn’t matter where we play.”

Wolf leads a prolific offense, which averaged 35 points per game. The Mavericks averaged more than 400 yards of offense, with 235.7 yards per game rushing. The defense was nationally-ranked last season, allowing only 287 yards and 17.9 points per game.

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