Rochester Mayo and Rees Grimsrud
take on new challenge
by Bryan Zollman
Co-Publisher/Let’s Play Football
What a difference a year can make. After making it to the state tournament last season by winning Section 1AAAA, the Rochester Mayo Spartans jumped a class this season. The result was a much tougher schedule against much bigger schools.
After starting the season 2-1, the Spartans had to play four consecutive top 10 Class 6A squads, including the top-ranked Eden Prairie Eagles Oct. 13.
The Eagles handed the Spartans their fourth consecutive loss to drop them to 2-5, a long ways from their 9-2 mark last year with their lone losses coming to Mankato West, a team that was one score away from winning the Prep Bowl.
So this year heading into the section playoffs will be more of an uphill battle where three teams – Lakeville South, Lakeville North and Rosemount – have all spent ample time in the top 10 in the state. Leading that uphill climb will be senior quarterback Rees Grimsrud.
He and the Spartans are off to a good start with a 28-21 win over St. Michael-Albertville in the first round of Section 3AAAAAA playoffs, Grimsrud was 15-for-27 for 171 yards and three touchdowns to help lead his team to victory.
Grimsrud has put together a solid season, completing 151 of 237 passes for 1,824 yards and 15 touchdowns through the team’s first nine games. Against the top-ranked Eagles he threw 17 completions for 234 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions.
“Being able to throw for over 230 yards versus the number one team in the state while dealing with cold, wind and rain was impressive,” said Mayo Head Coach Don Holcomb. “Each game he has been able to sit in there versus 6A schools and their fresh one-way line and been impressive.”
Holcomb said Grimsrud, in his second year as a starter, has great touch and a solid pocket presence. At 6’2” and 180 pounds, his frame allows him to see over those big defensive lines he has faced this season.
“He has a competitive nature and is a good leader,” said Holcomb. “He does a good job studying film and reading defenses.”
Grimsrud is coming off a stellar junior season where he completed 136 of 209 passes for 2,146 yards, 24 touchdowns and seven picks. His QB rating last season was 123.4. The team finished 9-2.
Holcomb has watched his senior QB develop and put in the time away from practice to make him one of the top quarterbacks around.
“He’s dedicated himself to being in the weight room, playing other sports and utilizing 7 on 7 opportunities as well as getting teammates out to catch,” said Holcomb. “He gets support form others and his QB coach. He’s patient and coachable.”
Holcomb said one important aspect of Grimsrud’s game is his ability to not dwell on a bad throw or a broken play.
“He has a short-term memory on mistakes and is able to move forward,” he said.
While Grimsrud’s numbers are lower than a year ago in terms of yardage and touchdowns, the competition he has faced has been fierce. He takes pride in his role as the team’s quarterback.
“Being a leader is the most important job for a quarterback,” said Grimsrud. “A quarterback who leads his team through example, encouragement, constructive criticism, and humility is a quarterback a team will want to get behind.”
Moving up from Class 5A to 6A is a big jump for a team, perhaps bigger than any other leap between classes because it doesn’t get any bigger than 6A. But Grimsrud has adjusted well. Despite their 2-5 record heading into Week 8, and eventually heading into perhaps the toughest section in the state, Grimsrud and company will do so with no fear.
“My pops has preached that to me since I was little,” Grimsrud said. “Doesn’t matter who you go against. Have no fear against any opponent. Fear only God.”