High school football coaches Charles Adams and Scott Howell lead two of the state’s high-profile teams in Minneapolis North and St. Paul Central respectively. Both are hoping to continue their recent success on the gridiron as the 2023 prep football season approaches.
Under Adams, the Polars have been on quite a run. Until the 2022 season, North had been perennial state playoff participants since 2014.
In 2016, the Polars—with current NFL receiver Tyler Johnson—won the state championship, making Adams the first Black head coach in Minnesota history to accomplish the feat.
North, which finished 8-1 last season, was denied an eighth consecutive state playoff appearance after a 21-20 loss to Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted in the Section 4AA semifinals.
Howell has been at Central since 2000, and has continued the legacy and tradition developed under Hall of Fame coach Floyd Smaller. Before the Minnesota State High School League’s football realignment plan led to the end of city conference football, Howell, himself a Central alum, led them to league championships from 2008-2014.
In 2022, the Minutemen made an impression. Despite their 5-6 record, they made it to the Section 4AAAAA title game before losing 20-0 to Mahtomedi.
Not only are Adams and Howell coaching at the schools where they once starred, both schools will be led by two of the metro area’s finest.
North senior defensive back Zashon Rich (6’2”, 180 pounds) is already on a host of preseason all-metro and all-state lists. Central’s Allan Lankfard Jr. (6’1”, 200 pounds), an eleventh grader whose 2022 season was cut short by injury, is one of the state’s top quarterback prospects and is also outstanding on defense.
Both are impressive on the basketball team as well, with Rich averaging 16 points per game for the Polars and Lankfard Jr. leading the Minutemen with a 15 points-per-game average last season.