James Klecker, the 6-foot-3, 195-pound senior quarterback for the Hopkins High football team, has broken a long-standing family tradition to find his own path in athletics.


Quarterback James Klecker of the Hopkins Royals is the only football player in a family of distance runners.

He comes from Hopkins’ most prominent distance-running family, which includes his mom, Janis (Horns) Klecker, a former Olympic marathoner, and his dad Barney, who once held the world record for the 50-mile run. All of James’ older brothers and sisters ran cross country and track for Hopkins High and went on to run in college. His older brother Joe led Hopkins to its first state cross country title and is now an All-American at Colorado University in Boulder.

Marching to a different beat, James has played football and baseball, and he also hurdles for the Hopkins High track team. 

He is anxious to lead the Hopkins football team to an improved season this fall.

“The biggest change I see in our two-a-days this year is the energy level,” Klecker said during a break from practice last week. “I thought we played kind of tense last season. This year, we’re trying to have more fun with the game. But we also need to be focused during two-a-days, and that starts with leadership.”

Klecker was one of a handful of Hopkins athletes who played both ways for the football team last season. Even though he’s the starting quarterback, he wants to continue playing safety for coach John DenHartog’s Royals.

“Our junior class is a standout class,” said Klecker. “And we have a lot of guys returning from last year. We have bonded like a family.”

Klecker said one of the goals for the offense is to establish a good balance between passing and running. The quarterback likes to run himself, and he has a good person to hand off to, as well, in the person of senior halfback Jadon Washington.

The Royals have a tough matchup in the season opener, which brings the Apple Valley Eagles to Hopkins at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 30.


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