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Minneapolis North to be Practice Team for Super Bowl LII Test

Posted Dec 14, 2017


MINNEAPOLIS — It was hard to keep up with all of the surprises Wednesday morning at Minneapolis North High School. 

But in a 30-minute flurry, it amounted to a day the Polars football program will never forget.

The NFL and the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee teamed up to announce to players and coaches that the program was selected for the NFL’s camera run-through ahead of Super Bowl LII. 

The Polars will be a “practice team” of sorts on Feb. 2, as the team will run-through plays on the U.S. Bank Stadium turf to help NBC camera operators and television producers get a feel for the environment before the real deal.

The best moment of the day came when the surprised Polars erupted in cheers after the announcement.

“I had no idea this was going on,” said junior Michael Harris. “I looked at everyone’s shirts with the Super Bowl [logo], so I knew it had to be something with the Super Bowl.”

“My reaction was, ‘This can’t be happening.’ I’ve watch documentaries on [the Super Bowl], but this is crazy,” Harris added. “To be out there with my team, it just makes the experience better. This is definitely something to remember.”

Added junior JaRon Ross-Hawkins: “I didn’t know what was going to happen. I thought they were going to give us something, but I didn’t know it was going to be this.”

Minneapolis North Head Coach Charles Adams said he enjoyed watching his players soak in the moment.

“We had been doing some preparation and planning for this. We’d been trying to come up with a creative way [to tell them] rather than me sending out a text or telling the kids face to face,” Adams said. “That’s what drives me to be here with these kids, to see the excitement.

“Sometimes it’s something as little as a pair of socks that these kids get excited,” Adams added. “I was real anxious today to get things going because I wanted to see how the reaction would be.”

The Polars will wear their uniforms and run scripted plays on the field, and are essentially the game’s third team.

The program was also surprised with tickets to the Super Bowl Experience, which will run from Jan. 27-Feb. 3 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

But the disbelief didn’t stop there, as former Vikings linebacker E.J. Henderson, who is now the Vikings Youth Football Manager, appeared on stage in the school auditorium to surprise Adams with two tickets to the Super Bowl.

“I had absolutely no clue. I don’t [coach] for me,” Adams said. “Oh man, it’s just a great thing … I can’t even explain what it is.

“I can’t believe it. Are you kidding me?” Adams added. “I’m going to have to go sit down. It really hasn’t kicked in yet.”

Said Harris: “That’s a dream. Hardly anyone ever gets to go to the Super Bowl. It’s surreal, but I’m proud and happy for him.”

Dana Nelson, the Vice President of Legacy and Community Partnerships for the Host Committee, said the group was glad to make an impact on the Polars.

“I think it’s one of the most special things that happens during Super Bowl week,” Nelson said. “We’re really excited to honor North High … they have incredible leadership on and off the field.

“And it’s an incredible honor for Coach Adams and this team,” Nelson added. “Hopefully this is the memory of a lifetime for them.”