GRAND RAPIDS — The much anticipated return of Minnesota College Athletic Conference (MCAC) football is upon us and 8 member college programs begin MCAC competition on Saturday.

Central Lakes College will be defending their 2019 MCAC Championship. Greg Medeck, in his 13th season, returns to coach the Raiders and should be led by returners Charles Dressel on defense and Jake Moe on offense.

Itasca Community College hopes to build on a strong 8-3 season in 2019 under the direction of 4th year head coach, Weldon Braxton. The Vikings return several players that impacted the success in 2019 including Antwan Downs, HM All-American.

Members of the ICC coaching staff include Jazz Watkins, Defensive Coordinator/DB Coach; Michael Francis-Bey, Defensive Coordinator/LB Coach; Joshua Profit, Offensive Line/Run Game Coordinator; Vernon Powell, WR Coach; Kaitlyn Weimer, Director of Football Operations; Alex Willette, Athletic Trainer; Ashley Palmer, Athletic Trainer.

Top returning players: Antwan Downs, WR, Ocala, FL, Sharrod Riggins, OL, Tallahassee, FL, Jon Humphrey, TE, Savannah, GA.

Top incoming/new players: Blake Bland, DL, Port Huron, MI,Ja’Sion Greathouse, DL, Chicago, IL, Kenneth McGill, OL, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, Michael Bond, RB, Nashville, TN, Tsiah Dorn, OL, Tulsa, OK, LaMontez Moye, DB, Tallahassee, FL, Carson Harris, Carlton, TX, Kevin Sawyer, RB, Jacksonville, FL, Devondric Miller, Tallahassee, FL, Freddie Simmons, DB, Tallahassee, FL, Jeremiah Odie, DB, Kissimmee, FL, Angel Disla, WR/TE, Eugene, OR, Tyron Carey, LB, Key West, FL, Greg Washington, LB, Oxen Hill, MD, Jalen Brown, WR, Charlotte, NC, and Prince Okojie, LB, Pine Bluff, AR.

Coach Braxton on the Vikings defense: “We must fly to the football while maintaining discipline.”

Coach Braxton on the Vikings offense: “We must be able to maintain possession of the ball and gain 1st downs.”

Coach Braxton on the Vikings special teams: “The goal is to maximize field position.”

2019 Student-Athletes who will be playing at a 4-year college program this fall:

Cameron Strapp - Western Illinois, Jakari Brooks - North Texas, Waylon Washington - Northwestern State, Joshua Booker - Findley, Rikishi Buchanan - Northeastern, Nick Thune - Mary, and Charmar Cobb - Central Oklahoma.

After a first place finish in the MCAC East in 2019, Tom Inforzato returns for his 5th season at Mesabi Range College. He brings back multiple players from that 2019 team that went 7-2 overall and 5-0 in conference play and expects his team to be fast and physical this season.

Minnesota State - Fergus Falls promises to be a much improved team from 2019, when they finished the season 1-6. Cory Miller will lead the team in his 3rd season, and freshman QB Nate Hayden will be a player to watch this fall.

In his 26th year as head coach, Jeff Linder has seen the ups and downs of college sports. Coming off a 6-4 record and 2nd place finish in the MCAC West in 2019, Minnesota West hopes the down year of 2020 when COVID-19 claimed the season, was the setup for another positive campaign in 2021. With the return of several impact players and recruiting a solid core of freshmen, the Bluejays are expecting to have another strong season.

North Dakota State College of Science fell one win short of claiming the MCAC Championship in 2019, and Eric Issendorf would love to get that extra win in 2021. In his 4th year as head coach, and coming off an 8-2 season and Region XIII semi-finalist, Issendorf will again put his stamp on his team. Known for playing disciplined and fundamentally sound, the Wildcats are expecting to compete for a championship again in 2021.

Rochester Community and Technical College finished 2019 with a 6-3 record and expects to be aggressive, fast, and fun to watch in 2021. At the helm in his 5th season is Derrick Hintz. With a strong recruiting class and the return of many impact sophomores, the Yellowjackets are looking forward to an incredible season.

In his first season as head coach, Terrence Isaac Sr. takes over the reigns of the Ironmen program. Vermilion Community College finished 2019 in last place in the MCAC with a 1-7 record, but returns linebacker Carlos Carter to anchor a physical defense. Playing for his father, Terrence Isaac Jr.. (WR) should impact the offense downfield, and if the young team can limit turnovers and control the time of possession, the Ironmen will be a much improved team in 2021.

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