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Maple Grove Crimson Football History

Crimson Football History

On Friday, August 30th 1996 the Maple Grove Crimson football was born. The result was like most of the rest in their first two years, which was a loss. They won two games in their first two years. Points were hard to come by in the first season and Coach Craig Hansen knew it would be difficult as they were largely composed of underclassmen as the players from Osseo for the most part did not cross over to play for the younger Crimson.

In 1998 their fortunes would change. The kids that started this program now were in their third and last year of football at Maple Grove. They led the Crimson to a seven win regular season with their only regular season loss coming to the Stillwater Ponies. This was a year of many firsts. First season with a winning record, first win in the section playoffs, first section title, and first time competing in state. They would end their season with a record of 9-2 after a loss at state to Cretin-Derham Hall 29-22.

In 2000 the Crimson would move out of the Twin Cities Suburban Conference for the Northwest Suburban Conference and join the following teams: Anoka, Armstrong, Blaine, Champlin Park, Coon Rapids, Elk River, and Park Center. They would finish with a 5-2 league record this year and a 8-3 record overall after losing to Wayzata in the Section 6 Final 34-7.

On October 18, 2001 the first game ever was held at Maple Grove Crimson Stadium. The Crimson would shut out the Park Center Pirates 22-0. That year also featured a homecoming game at Metrodome against Elk River. Even though the lower bowl was nearly full, the Elks would prevail 31-14. The Crimson would finish the regular season with a modest 4-4 record. Something clicked for the Crimson after a 17-16 loss to Coon Rapids as they reeled off five wins in a row including a 3-0 win at Wayzata in the Section 6 semifinals and 17-10 win over Buffalo in the Section 6 Final. Conference foe Blaine would hand us a loss in the state tournament a week later 22-7.

2002 was a lot like 2001. The Crimson would have a modest regular season record at 5-3 and then got hot in late October with a four game win streak. The defense was incredible during the run yielding 14 points. They would shutout Buffalo 7-0 in the Section 6 Semifinals and then shutout Wayzata 13-0 in the Section 6 Finals for the third section championship in school history. Maple Grove would lose to Champlin Park 23-20 in the state tournament. This was the first full season played at Maple Grove Crimson Stadium.

In 2005 the Crimson would have their first undefeated regular season going 8-0 and winning the Northwest Suburban Conference. They would lose the to Wayzata in the Section 6 Final 31-14.

2006 was a difficult year as the Crimson would race out to a 5-0 record averaging 36 points per game. After the fifth game they would score 14 points in their remaining four games.

In 2007 the Crimson would again find themselves back in the Section 6 Final against Wayzata and would suffer a 6-0 loss at the hands of the Trojans.

2008 through 2010 were facsimiles of each other. Every year resulted in a 3-5 regular season record and exited the playoffs in the first game of sections.

2011 a huge change took place. Matt Lombardi was named the second ever head coach of the Crimson. "Lombo" was the defensive coordinator for the Wayzata Trojans during the 2000's and they would win three state titles. Lombo would schedule Eden Prairie so the kids could see what a big time high school program looked like. Eden Prairie would win 35-0, scoring most of their points in the first half and led off the second half with an onside kick. Valuable lessons would be learned that night and this season. The Crimson would finish the year 4-6 and the program was back on the rise. The turf dome would also open this year.

In 2012 the Crimson would have their second undefeated regular season winning the Northwest Suburban Conference. The Crimson would run into another powerhouse in the Minnetonka Skippers in the second round of the playoffs and lost 17-3.

2013 would again result in an undefeated regular season campaign and a conference title. The Crimson would dump Anoka and Minnetonka on their way to their first state tournament in 11 years. They would lose at TCF Bank Stadium to the Roseville Raiders 24-21. This team was different than all of the rest. They average over 30 points per game and were an offensive juggernaut. The Crimson record books are littered with these kids names. The defense was equally impressive. They allowed less than ten points per game.

2014 would mark the last season in the Northwest Suburban Conference for football and the NWSC would admit three new schools in Irondale, Spring Lake Park, and Totino-Grace. This year the defense really cranked it up with five shutouts. They averaged giving up less than eight points per game. They would eventually lose in the State Tournament Semifinals to our nemesis Eden Prairie 13-7 in the Ice Bowl at Hopkins High School.

In 2015 the Crimson would join the West Metro Section in the South Division with Eden Prairie, Edina, Hopkins, Minnetonka, Prior Lake, Shakopee, and Wayzata. In their first season they were 9-3 with a win at State against Burnsville 32-14 and loss to East Ridge in the State Tournament Semifinals 24-20.

In 2016 Maple Grove would go to state for a fourth year in a row after a rousing come from behind win in the section final against Edina. Nemesis Eden Prairie would end their season one win short of playing in the new U.S. Bank Stadium.

In 2017 the Crimson would reach the state semifinal and a game in U.S. Bank Stadium against the Eden Prairie Eagles. Maple Grove survived arguably the strongest schedule in the state and recorded possibly the biggest comeback in football history during a state quarterfinal game against upstart St. Michael-Albertville. The Crimson were in a 17 point hole with a minute to go and would manage to be victorious.

In 2018 and 2019 both teams made the Section championships and in 2020 the Crimson experienced a CoVid shortened season that ended before any opportunity to play in the post season.

Therefore, 2021 was a breath of fresh air for Maple Grove because it gave us the opportunity to compete in the post season.   This team won the Metro Gold North with it's highest scoring offense ever and a stingy defense, won the section championship over an impressive East Ridge team, beat a 9-1 Woodbury team in the quarterfinals, and then beat Eden Prairie in the semifinals to make it to the first Prep Bowl ever for Maple Grove.   The game that followed was a classic versus a Lakeville South Team that had won 22 consecutive games, and the Crimson came up a half-a-yard short in a hard fought 13-7 loss.   

Then came 2022, with a group of 46 Seniors coming back that had a taste of the Prep Bowl the previous year, they bonded together to have an incredible 13 - 0 undefeated season.   On December 2, 2022, came a night Maple Grove football will remember for a long time as the Crimson beat a previously unbeaten Rosemount squad 27-10 to finish off the first State Championship is school history.  Therefore, a group of young men graduating in 2023 created a legacy that will carry on forever as they left Maple Grove with a 24 - 2 record over their two years with two trips to the Prep Bowl and a State Championship!   Pretty Awesome!

The future of Crimson football is bright. The youth program is highly successful and growing. The students, parents, and boosters pack the stadiums under Friday night lights. We have some of the finest coaches, administration, and sponsors a high school program could want. We have facilities that few can rival and the atmosphere at our games is unparalleled.  Crimson football is a special place!

To see year by year schedules and results, click on the year numbers above in the menu.


Prior Seasons' Game Recaps

Minnetonka's Luke Evenson (29) strips the ball inside the five yard line from Maple Groves Mohammed Al-Hawwari stopping a key scoring drive late in the third quarter and maintaining a 28-21 lead and eventual win.