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Chris Murphy, Published November 22 2012

Mahnomen's hopes for a state title rest on morning game Saturday

Mahnomen, Minn. - Mahnomen wide receiver Jason Schoenborn claims there is no better perfection than his bed when he hears his alarm at 6:45 a.m. Then he remembers something and he leaves his pillow, blankets and his house of comfort behind to run sprints.

“I’m playing football at

the best place you can possibly play as a high school student,” Schoenborn said.

The place is the Metrodome, and Mahnomen has a date at 10 a.m. Saturday with Bethlehem Academy for a chance to cap a perfect season with a Class 1A state championship. Dates at 10 a.m. usually involve eggs and bacon, not touchdowns and tackles.

The general procession for a football player is Friday nights in high school to Saturday afternoons in college and Sundays in the pros.

No one said anything about getting up early. But if it means a state championship, the Indians are more than happy to get to school by 7 a.m. to run from 7:20 a.m. until 8 a.m. before school in order to get their bodies ready for some early football.

“It prepares you,” Mahnomen running back/cornerback Garret Hoffner said. “You’re extra confident going into the games and know you can outlast the other guy. With these games you have to put in the extra work to be a good team. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to play football in the Metrodome.”

Hoffner was certainly awake in Mahnomen’s 26-20 win over Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City last week, which kicked off at 11:30 a.m. Hoffner recovered a fumble on special teams that led to a touchdown. He later scored on a 5-yard touchdown run that proved to be the winner.

Dad may not be the one waking up Hoffner, but he’s certainly the one getting him out of bed when leaving that comfy place seems impossible.

“I just think of all those practices over the years, all those times playing catch with my dad, being a senior,” Hoffner said. “It gets you up. It all comes down to this.”

Darin Geray, a Mahnomen defensive end who is tied for the team lead with 2.5 sacks, is more than willing to hop out of bed to the sound of his mother’s knock at the door. It could mean a state championship for Mahnomen, with last year’s state championship loss still fresh in his memory.

“I just get up,” Geray said. “You’re getting to play one of the most fun sports ever and you get to play it in the Metrodome. It’s not a big deal for me to get up early.”

There are always a few stragglers, but the Mahnomen squad has embraced the work that comes with being a state champion.

“Jake Hedstrom is always the last one ready and Nate Hanson runs the first five minutes when he hasn’t truly woke up yet,” Mahnomen coach John Clark Jr. said. “Part of being a championship team is sacrificing a lot of things and sleep is probably the least of them.

“You can pretty much ask anything of these kids right now and they’ll be eager to do it. Well, maybe not eager to do it, but they’ll do it.”


Readers can reach Forum reporter Chris Murphy at (701) 241-5548