Thank you for reading Football Across Minnesota (FAM), my weekly column that tours football topics in our state from preps to pros. You can find last week's FAM column right here. — Chip
. . .
Stillwater sophomore Nick Kinsey was roughly 34 hours removed from his team's frenetic win Friday night when he pulled into the parking lot at Osseo High at 7:45 a.m. Sunday.
While others his age were still asleep, Kinsey arrived at school — quarterback school, now a Sunday morning ritual for him.
"It's easy to wake up and get out of bed for football," Kinsey said.
He admitted his body was still sore from a 21-17 win over Mounds View that he described afterward as "one of the craziest games I've ever been a part of," but the Sunday morning sessions with his quarterback trainer are vital to his success.
Kinsey is among a group of quarterbacks ages 9 and up who do year-round training with Cleveland McCoy, a former college quarterback who made stops in different professional leagues before launching his company Quarterback Football Training in 2019.
McCoy has a training facility in Maple Grove and also hosts workouts outside when weather permits, including a pair of weekly Sunday morning sessions: One for high schoolers, followed by younger kids.
Kinsey, who holds scholarship offers from Ole Miss, Miami and Connecticut, started working with McCoy as a seventh-grader. Kinsey's father John said the quarterback position is so unique and so demanding that extra training is a necessary commitment.
"If you're not doing it, there are kids all around the country that are," John Kinsey said.
McCoy serves a niche community of quarterbacks who want to find that extra edge in their development.
A native of South Carolina, McCoy was a three-year starter at South Carolina State from 2005-07. He got a tryout with the Detroit Lions in 2010 and bounced between the CFL and different arena football leagues, including one in Green Bay.
An injury led him to do his rehab in the Twin Cities and he never left.
He got a job in Fridley's city parks and recreation department and helped coach quarterbacks on the varsity football team. He started working informally with a young quarterback in fifth grade on Saturdays. He did it for free until the kid's dad insisted that he pay for the lessons. A new career was born.
Now 38, McCoy once dreamed of coaching in college but when that path didn't materialize, "I think my calling was to do this," he said.
He started with two quarterbacks in his program. That number multiplied as word spread. McCoy estimates that he has trained 75 to 100 quarterbacks since 2019. His client list includes a few of the top high school quarterbacks in metro this season, Kinsey and East Ridge's Tanner Zolnosky.
McCoy's teaching style is meticulous. He became fascinated with the kinesiology elements of throwing a football late in his playing career. He drills quarterbacks on footwork, throwing mechanics and fundamentals, but he also devotes as much time to the mental aspects of the position.
"Playing quarterback is a craft," he said. "You have to keep working at it."
Cleveland's son Ellis is 9 years old, and his inspiration behind expanding training to young kids. He wants them to learn proper fundamentals at an early age.
That is a common motivation of quarterbacks and their parents who seek out McCoy's tutelage. "If you're not doing this stuff," said John Kinsey, "your footwork [fundamentals] can slip very quickly."
Joe Grunnet is a coach in Edina's youth football association. He brings his 12-year-old son Will to the Sunday morning sessions. He said his son has ambitions to play quarterback at a high level, so he found him specialized training.
"You have to create a foundation, whatever you're doing," Joe said. "Cleve gives them the foundational stuff."
The comprehensive development was evident during a training session with Minnetonka eighth-grader Javier Amorrortu last week at McCoy's 6,000-square-foot facility in Maple Grove called House of Elite.
The workout started with passing drills on the indoor field. They worked on timing and different drops, rollouts and executing play-action fakes. Phase 2 was strength training for 30 minutes in the gym area.
The session concluded with a 30-minute film review in McCoy's office. He had video clips of plays from Amorrortu's middle school game cued up on the big screen TV.
A sampling of their conversation:
McCoy: When you break the huddle, what's the first thing you're looking for?
Amorrortu: The safeties.
McCoy: Right. From this coverage here, what do you think they're in?
Amorrortu: Cover 2.
McCoy: Once you look at the safeties, you're identifying your open gaps, right? Where are your open areas? Show me.
Amorrortu stands up and points to areas on the screen where the defense is vulnerable.
They discuss formations and receivers' route combinations and review each pass attempt to dissect his footwork and mechanics. On one play, McCoy notices that Amorrortu is carrying the football low as he scrambles away from pressure.
"We can't run with the ball like that," he says. "Your knee could hit the ball and you could fumble it. I've had that happen before."
McCoy quizzes him on different defensive coverages and asks him to point out indicators.
"How can you tell the difference between Cover 2 man and Cover 2?" McCoy asks.
A clip shows an incomplete pass. McCoy points out a breakdown in Amorrortu's mechanics.
"Drop that back leg, hitch and drive the ball," McCoy says as they replay the clip multiple times.
McCoy even dissects Amorrortu's handoffs with a little humor.
McCoy: You know what I'm going to tell you. Carry out the fake. You know how much the game costs to get in?
McCoy: If you're going to watch, go get a ticket. Your job is to carry out the fake.
Both laugh, and then it's on to the next play.
The film session ends on a high note. Amorrortu throws a game-winning pass in the final minute. McCoy celebrates the clip by yelling, "Oooh!"
"Look at that," he says. "That's the same post [route] that you missed earlier. Very good technique and fundamentals. Beautiful. Good job rallying your team."
. . .
Unique script for victory
FAM has witnessed a lot of strange things in football, but never something like this: Andover allowed 695 yards rushing to Elk River on Friday — and won.
"It was interesting," Andover coach Tom Develice said with a chuckle of his team's 63-56 win.
Interesting, but the formula was not unexpected since Elk River's running game in the Power-T offense has become legendary in Minnesota football.
Still, the final stats would make 'ol Woody Hayes smile: Elk River had zero pass completions on four attempts and just shy of 700 rushing yards.
"They're going to get yards, you know it," Develice said. "It's just whether or not you can force them to go for it on fourth down and stop them. Or if you can get them to kick a field goal."
Andover did more than match Elk River's offense. The Huskies scored touchdowns on all nine of their possessions.
. . .
- Cade Sheehan: Augsburg quarterback threw a game-winning touchdown pass with one second remaining against Gustavus Adolphus to keep his team undefeated. He passed for five TDs in the 33-31 victory and his season 180.5 passing efficiency ranks 15th nationally in Division III.
- Curtis Cox: Minnesota Duluth kicker had a perfect day in a 33-0 win over Southwest Minnesota State. He went 4-for-4 on field-goal attempts and 3-for-3 on extra points and had four touchbacks on kickoffs.
- Cooper Yaggie: St. John's linebacker collected 12 tackles, one interception and one pass breakup as the Johnnies defense held Bethel to one touchdown in a 27-7 win.
He said what?!
"That's something we're going to fix one way or another. Either guys are going to do it, or we're going to have to put other guys in the game that have ball security."
— Vikings coach Kevin O'Connell on his team's fumbling problem that has led to their NFL-high nine turnovers.
Numbers to know
3: Plays covering 40-plus yards allowed by the Gophers defense in the past two weeks after giving up only four plays of that distance all of last season.
133: Rushing yards per game by Gophers true freshman Darius Taylor, which leads FBS.
458: Receiving yards by Justin Jefferson after three games, which ties Wes Welker's league record since 1970 for receiving yards at this point in the season.
215: Points scored by Nine-man powerhouse Mountain Iron-Buhl in its past three games, all three ending in shutouts.
The Gophers defense allowed Northwestern to complete seven passes that netted least 15 yards after halftime Saturday, in addition to an 80-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter. Coordinator Joe Rossi has a lot of work to shore up that area.
. . .
Grab your popcorn
Mankato West at Chanhassen, 7 p.m., Friday. This is a battle of the top two-ranked teams 5A. Both are 4-0. Mankato West lost to Elk River in the state championship game last season. Chanhassen is led by Gophers commit Sam Macy and dynamic running back Maxwell Woods, an NDSU commit.
An important 48 hours for:
Kevin O'Connell and P.J. Fleck. The Vikings coach and Gophers coach watched their teams suffer deflating losses over the weekend, the kind of setbacks that can linger if a team doesn't handle it properly. How O'Connell and Fleck handle the situation with their respective teams will be critical.
. . .
A FAM FINAL WORD
There was a whole lot of this emotion in the Minnesota football sphere after the Gophers and Vikings losses. The FAM family was a little grumpy. Both teams — and their fans — could use a positive performance this weekend in the worst way.