Mavericks preparing to defend football title

Maverick football players collecting funds for cancer research at the Minnesota Vikings training camp.

Maverick football players collecting funds for cancer research at the Minnesota Vikings training camp.

By Joe Steck – Mankato Times

MANKATO, MINN. — The Minnesota State University Maverick football team will start their fall practice this Thursday on the Blakeslee Stadium practice fields.

Head coach Todd Hoffner and his assistants will be evaluating 103 student-athletes as they prepare to defend their NSIC title.

"I am excited for this group of young men to emerge as the next generation of stars for Maverick football," head coach Todd Hoffner said. "As a program we are excited to begin our quest for a championship in 2016. The journey of this team, to date, has focused on hard work and they are determined to continue the Maverick tradition and legacy that have been established.”

The Mavericks are again preseason favorites to with the NSIC but will need to fill some key positions due to the graduation of defensive standouts Josh Gordon and Tyler Henderson as well as offensive linemen Herschel Prater and Lawrence Walker.

“We have some slots to fill this season. We lost some talented players, but we also have some talented players joining the team.” said Coach Hoffner

The NSIC coaches have picked linebacker Marcus Gooden as the NSIC south preseason player of the year. The 6’ 225 pound senior hails from Belvidere, Ill. and was the team’s second leading tackler with 58 during the 2015 season.

Ty Dennis has been named the Mavericks offensive player to watch. Dennis, a 6’5”, 225 pound junior from Burlington, Wisconsin, led the receivers with 793 yards and six touchdown catches.

The Mavericks have three senior quarterbacks returning to the field. Quarterbacks Nick Pieruccini and Ricky Lloyd have taken the majority of the snaps the past two years with Neico Stokke having limited playing time during his career.  

Pieruccini threw for 1,699 yards with 12 touchdown passes to lead the team in 2015 while running for 487 yards and 9 rushing touchdowns.

Lloyd threw for 1,019 yards with 9 touchdown passes. He also rushed for 334 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Stokke played in 10 games this past season, completing two passes for 14 yards. He also was named to the NSIC All-Academic Team.

As Coach Hoffner always says “Every player is important to the team and they have to be ready to step in and do their part when they are called upon to play.”

This should be another exciting year for Maverick football. There will be some new faces to watch and a lot will be discovered during the practices leading up to the season opener on Thursday, September 1st against Minot State in Minot, North Dakota.

"The football staff has done a great job of attracting gifted and talented, young men to Minnesota State and now it is time to put them in position to make plays."

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