2023 Pigskin Preview: Chatfield ready to put last year’s up-and-comers in the spotlight

The Gophers reached the Class AA State Championship last season for the second time in a row.

(ABC 6 News) — The Chatfield Gophers have demonstrated to be a State Championship-caliber unit, after reaching the Class AA Title Game the past two seasons, winning it in 2021.

A vital part of that success was Sam Backer, their one-of-a-kind superstar quarterback who razed fields with his running skills.

But as Backer is now set to begin his college career at MSU-Mankato, this year’s Gophers squad has to make up for his impact as well as the slew of other seniors who are no longer with Chatfield Football.

There is a strong core of returners for 2023 despite their limited play to this point. Nevertheless, the reps they did have came as a result of Chatfield’s deep runs in the postseason, providing crucial experience.

“We got a lot of kids returning that didn’t necessarily start, but they played a lot of football games in the second half,” Gophers head coach Jeff Johnson said. “We have more experience back than what people think so… it’s exciting to see what this new group is going to do on their own. This is their season and kind of what they want to make of it… We’ve got to get on the field and see some live action before we know for sure. But the kids have been working hard it’s going to be exciting.”

Chatfield has had both a solid defense and a run-heavy offense to hang tough with teams in their district. In order to sustain that success, they’ll need a shorter margin for errors during pass plays on offense. Overall, Chatfield can not settle for good when they can be great.

“I mean our pass game wasn’t that good,” senior running back Kail Schott noted. “We made big turnovers and it kind of made our defense struggle. Our defense played a lot more than our offense did. We just got to limit the turnovers this year.”

“During film, once you really pick out all the small details, you’re like, ‘Dang, I wish I could’ve done that better,'” senior quarterback Parker Delaney added. “Even the coaches are nitpicking. We might’ve played a good game, we might’ve beat them, but we were always looking to get better.”

Chatfield opens their new season at Pine Island on Friday, September 1 at 7 PM.