Vikings welcomed home after runner-up finish

Photo by Sam Thiel Minneota head coach Chad Johnston speaks to the crowd during the team’s welcome home ceremony on Friday at Minneota High School.

MINNEOTA — Sirens and flashing lights from the local police cars and fire trucks helped bring the Minneota football team back to town in style on Friday evening after they earned a runner-up finish at the Class A tournament earlier in the day.

Minneota was then welcomed with open arms by a group of family and friends with a short ceremony.

Minneota players showed their appreciation to the crowd, saying it was their goal all season to get the opportunity to play at the state tournament in U.S. Bank Stadium.

“We’ve always had one goal in mind and that was to make it to U.S. Bank Stadium,” AJ Josephson said. “Not only did we get to play there once, but we got to play there twice and reached that goal with all of the support from our family and the fans and it was a great season.”

“People will look back at our season and think it was not successful because we didn’t win state,” Anthony Rybinski added. “In reality it was a successful season; during the season we were able to break some Minnesota state high school records, one of those being shutouts in a season which we tied with nine. Throughout the season our team grew closer which eventually created a bond that won’t be broken.”

Minneota coach Chad Johnston said after winning the section championship last year but not being able to compete in the state tournament due to COVID, they were excited for the season this year, but wasn’t quite sure if they would make a repeat trip. As the season went on, though, Johnston added his players continued to show they were capable of putting together an incredible season and is proud of the way his team battled until the end.

“Last year we had a great season and won the section finals, but we didn’t have an opportunity to go to the state tournament [due to COVID] and we walked off with just a weird feeling. This year we had high hopes and expectations but I thought the section finals would be a good goal for us and if we get to the state tournament, I just wasn’t quite certain what type of team we would be,” Johnston said. “That’s how I saw our team at the beginning of the season and week in and week out, these guys just proved to me the caliber of team that they could be and all of a sudden I go from ‘Well, we’ll see, we’ve got a tough section, hopefully we’ll play in the final and get to state and see how things go’ to midseason I go ‘We got this. We’ve got the team to get to state, we’ve got the team to compete with anybody in the state’. They made a believer out of me, a believer out of our coaching staff and I know we all want to be in a different position [today] but I’m extremely proud of these young men and I’m extremely proud of what they have done all season long.”


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