Tri-State Buffalos take field in Albert Lea Saturday

The plans are in place and the roster is set for the first season of Tri-State Buffalos football.

The Buffalos, a first-year member of the South Plains Football League, open the season Saturday with a road game against the Albert Lea Grizzlies.

It’s the first of eight regular season games in the nine-team, nine-man football semi-pro league.

Other road games have the Buffalos traveling to Le Center April 27, Nicollet June 1 and West Concord June 22.

Tri-State plays its home games in Hills with all games starting at 7 p.m.

The home opener is set for May 11 against the Steel County Warriors.

Other home games include contests against the South Central Hawgs May 18, the Buffalo Ridge Wildcats June 8 and the North Iowa Bucks June 15.

The league playoff follows the regular season, and the winner earns a berth in the national championship game in Oregon later this summer.

For team owner/player Cody Scholten, a former Hills-Beaver Creek High School player who now resides in Luverne, the fun is about to begin after eight months of preparation.

“We’re ready to go,” Scholten said Saturday.

“I started working on this last August when I heard the SPFL had an opening for a team. We’ve started having practices back in December and we’ve been practicing three times a week the past two and one-half weeks.”

The team’s initial roster consists of 31 players from Minnesota, Iowa and South Dakota ranging between the ages of 18-36.

The roster features 11 former players from H-BC and Adrian High Schools including middle linebackers Scholten and H-BC graduate Taylor Leuthold, who are two of the team’s three captains.

Leuthold plays fullback as well.

Worthington’s Jordan Schroeder is the other tri-captain.

Other former H-BC players on the roster include Jordan Larson (quarterback/wide receiver), Tate Bork (running back/linebacker), Derek Ehde (halfback/linebacker), Tanner Scholten (offensive and defensive linemen), Seth Nuffer (wide receiver) and Taylor Reese (wide receiver).

Former AHS athletes on the roster include Cody Reckamp (halfback), Alex Moldonado (defensive back) and Calvin Klosterman (center/tight end).

Luverne resident Chad DeSplinter is a defensive back on the roster.

Head coach and defensive coordinator of the team is Ken McCuen, who served as the defensive coordinator of the Sioux Falls Stallions last season.

Mac McNamara is the offensive coordinator and the assistant head coach, Brad Bentele is the assistant offensive and defensive coordinator and Jake Tiede the assistant all-position coordinator.

All things considered, Cody Scholten is happy with the first edition of the Tri-State Buffalos.

“I really didn’t know what to expect when I started this, but there really were a lot of guys interested in becoming players,” he said.

“These guys love the game and want to play football. We definitely will be a young team because we have a lot more younger guys than older players on the roster, but we will be a quick team. In nine-man football, being young and quick is a good mix to have.”

Scholten is unsure how his initial team stacks up against the competition in the SPFL.

“I know Fairmont (South Central Hawgs) won the league the last two years and the Buffalo Ridge Wildcats have a quick and experienced team. Other than that, I don’t know a lot about the other teams in the league,” he said.

What Scholten does know is that he needs the support of area football fans to make this season a success.

“Our motto is Playing to Win. Playing for a Cause,” he offered.

“All football players want to win games. We want to do that and try to give something back to the community. We’ll be doing community service events and donate any extra funds we raise to a local charity. I think we will get a lot of community support. As long as we represent ourselves well in the community, I think this team can grow into something big.”

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