Area Football: 3 area football players play in All-Star game

Crosby-Ironton, Pequot Lakes and Pierz represented at Minnesota Football All-Star game

Crosby-Ironton's Connor Zender throws a block at the Minnesota Football All-Star game Satruday, June 26, 2021, at St. John's University. Photo by Becki Zender

After being rescheduled and canceled more than once, the selected class of 2021 football seniors did get to play in the Minnesota All-Star Football game last weekend.

Sixty players competed at St. John’s University Saturday, June 26, including three area football players in the Minnesota All-Star Football game usually held at the end of the Prep Bowl at US Bank Stadium, but due to COVID-19 did not happen after the 2020 season.

Crosby-Ironton’s Connor Zender, Pequot Lakes’ Bode Magnuson and Pierz’s Michael Leidenfrost all played for the North team.

“It was a little weird playing in the middle of summer, but I got to meet a lot of really cool people and played with a lot of really good football players,” Leidenfrost said.

The North ended up beating the South 25-7, with Magnuson scoring a touchdown in the fourth quarter on a 20-yard reception.


“It was a huge confidence boost for me,” Magnuson said. “I hold myself to high expectations, but to bring that in and celebrate it was an awesome feeling.”

Magnuson’s dad and Pequot Lakes’ head coach, Bill Magnuson, played a big role in getting the game played.

After the Minnesota Vikings and the Minnesota Football Coaches Association canceled the game in April, Bill Magnuson wanted to see if there was another way for the game to go on and not have another event missed for the senior class.

“I just called feisty moms,” Bill Magnuson said. “Some moms that care about their sons and didn’t want to cancel another thing on these seniors again after a COVID year. These moms put their heads together about whether they could pull this off and I kind of laid back in the weeds to see how serious they were about doing this.”

It became clear that they were serious about playing the All-Star game, so Bill Magnuson became the All-Star game director.

“We raised the funds for this, secured the players that were nominated for the game and secured the coaches, so then I offered after my experiences to help run the game,” Bill Magnuson said. “Bottom line is we raised over $30,000 and secured enough players to play the game and it was a total success.”

The 60 players who showed up at the St. John’s University campus practiced for three days prior to the game being held Saturday. The players stayed in the dorms and were provided meals throughout their stay.

After all was said and done, the players were happy the game ended up happening.


“It was a really good feeling to get one more high school game in before I go to college,” Zender said. “It was a completely different level of competition being a part of this game with the best kids around the state. It was a big jump from playing in a small town like Crosby.”

Zender is going to play college football at Bemidji State University and played offensive line in the All-Star game.

“I met quite a few guys who are going to be my teammates next year,” he said. “It was just good to hear everyone's story and how their senior years went. It was a really good feeling to be a part of one of the 60 guys in the game.”

Leidenfrost played cornerback and safety for the North team.

“I played half and half I’d say,” Leidenfrost said. “This game was the end for high school football and I really wasn’t expecting this game to happen until a couple of weeks ago. But it was a really fun way to go out. The game was intense and fun and I’m really glad it happened.”

Bode Magnuson will attend University of Central Florida in Orlando and hopes to walk-on its football program.

“I appreciate my dad a ton for all the work he put in and for all the moms and the other parents who helped raise money,” Bode Magnuson said. “It was an emotional roller coaster with whether this was going to happen or not. But man it was fun.”

Bill Magnuson said his day Saturday at the All-Star game was filled with hugs and handshakes.


“The players really enjoyed the experience because of what All-Star week is like,” Bill Magnuson said. “The amount of friendships and connections they make are going to last a lifetime.”

CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or Follow on Twitter at

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