The Free Press, Mankato, MN

January 1, 2013

Former MSU players getting another shot at grid iron with new amateur league

By Jim Rueda
Free Press Staff Writer

MANKATO —  

Back in August, Blue Earth native Trever Coxworth stopped in Mankato and talked with The Free Press about starting up a minor league football team in town.

Coxworth contacted the newspaper again last week and said the Mankato Brawlers semi-pro team is getting closer to reality. He held an open tryout a few months ago and found what he believes are some quality players to add to the roster.

He has another tryout scheduled for 3 p.m. on Sunday at Minnesota State’s Bud Myers Field House. He’s encouraging anyone interested in playing tackle football to attend.

“Things are coming along,” Coxworth said. “We found two guys from Mankato who are interested in playing and both of them played at MSU. One is defensive back Jesse Graves and another is quarterback Ray Teachout.”

Coxworth said he had no idea who Teachout was when he showed up at the tryout but was impressed with the way he was throwing 50-yard bombs almost effortlessly with very little warm-up. 

“I’m 41 now and it takes me a good half hour to warm up to try and throw the ball like that,” Coxworth said. “He opened my eyes and I did some checking on him. I think this team could be a rebirth for him in Mankato.”

The Brawlers are scheduled to play in the Gridiron Developmental Football League. He said the outdoor, 11-man league should not be confused with 9-man Southern Plains Football League which includes a team based out of Truman.

“The Southern Plains is a fine league but our talent level is a lot higher,” Coxworth said. “There are some guy out there who want to play but they’re a little leery because they’re not familiar with our league. Once they see the product we put on the field and the way the games are run, I think they’ll be believers.”

Among some of the other players who have expressed interest in playing for the Brawlers are defensive tackle Freddie Mitchell, running back/cornerback  Chris Reid and Ray Wilson from the University of South Dakota, linebacker Vernon Catlin III from Arkansas Sate and cornerback Tino Madison from Concordia-St. Paul.

Mitchell has most recently been playing with the Sioux City Bandits which is an arena football team in Iowa. Josh Ditzman, a wide receiver out of Farmington by way of Rochester Community College, is also interested in playing.

Coxworth is hoping to debut the team on April 27 at MSU’s Blakeslee Stadium. Although nothing is official yet, the Brawlers would take on the Willmar Broncos in that franchise-opening game.

Other games on the schedule include a matchup with the Rochester Giants on June 8 in Mapleton as part of Town & Country Days. Anther on June 15 against the Minnesota Silverbacks in Janesville s part of the Hay Days celebration and another in Blue Earth against La Crosse’s River City Roughriders in Blue Earth as part of Giant Days. In all, Coxworth is  hoping to put together an 11-game schedule

“I know Blue Earth is a little far out but that’s my home town and I’ve always wanted to put on a game there,” Coxworth said. “We think if we can get some exposure across southern Minnesota we can get a solid fan base going.”

Coxworth has been involved with semi-pro teams as a player and/or general manager for almost 20 years. He formed teams that in Iowa that are still going strong and he’s been eyeing Mankato for quite some time.

“I think this is a good market for it,” he said. “There’s an opportunity here for a lot of former college guys to keep playing.”

Coxworth plans to start a major sponsorship drive this month. He already has a team logo developed and has designed some T-shirts, as well.

The plan is to stay out of the way of the Mankato MoonDogs summer collegiate baseball team so that interest from the community doesn’t get spread too thin. Coxworth is also hoping to piggyback on the popularity of the Minnesota Vikings when they hit town at the end of July.

“We’re getting to the part now where it starts to get exciting,” he said. “The players don’t get paid, they’re just in it to have run and to live out a dream.

“I know some people may be skeptical but I’ve run into that before and I’ve succeeded. I think people will be surprised when they come check us out for the first time.”