Mankato West High School is a 5A public high school located in Mankato, Minnesota. It is one of the high schools within the Mankato Area Public Schools district. The school serves students in grades 9 through 12 and offers a range of academic, extracurricular, and athletic programs. The Mankato West Scarlets have a history of winning state championships with the first one in 1999. After previously going undefeated and winning the state championship in 2021, the Scarlets came into the 2022-23 season with high hopes of winning back-to-back state championships. They began the season asserting their dominance the same way they did in the 2021-22 season by going undefeated in the regular season. The Scarlets went to the state championship in the 2022- 23 season but unfortunately, their season came to a heartbreaking end with a close loss in the championship game (26-29).
The Scarlets plan to move forward from last season’s championship loss by having a great summer camp. Coming into this season, the Mankato West Scarlets are going to be one of the top and favorite teams to win the state championship this year. Coach JJ Helget is entering his 18th season at Mankato and 7th since taking the head coach position. When talking to Coach Helget, he discussed how the team is focused on continuing to get better, finding guys to fill those key spots that seniors left open, and finding the right guys to mix in. We asked Coach Helget about what has the team learned from how last season ended. Coach Helget talked about how the team following the loss had that “let-down” feeling but it gave the team some motivation because the championship loss was coming off a 31-game winning streak. Coach Helget briefly talked about how losing in the championship game benefitted the team because a lot of guys never felt how it was to lose so this season they are playing with a chip on their shoulder while they are aiming to get first place and take home the state championship. Since the team has several members from last season’s squad, the team is coming into this season with an unfinished business attitude. While talking to Coach Helget he gave us players to look out for. These players include:
WR Jalen Smith – 6’0, 185 lbs. He recently committed to the University of Minnesota. He had 49 receptions for 729 yards and 8 touchdowns for the Scarlets last season and captured nationwide attention when he ran a 10.87 in the 100-meter dash. Jalen is currently ranked in the top 5 players in the state of Minnesota.
QB Bart Mcaninch – 6’1, 210 lbs. Coach Helget said “He’s one of the best quarterbacks he’s seen throw the football” He had 28 TDs 0 INT 13 Rushing TDs and threw for over 2400 yards for the Scarlets last season.