Agates, Mariners prepare for season opening football gamesBoth Two Harbors Agate and Silver Bay Mariners football teams start out their season.
By: News-Chronicle, Steve Gow, Lake County News Chronicle
Varsity and junior varsity football players for Two Harbors marked the third week of practice this week and the varsity kicks off the season tonight at Duluth Marshall.
There are 41 players out in grades 9-12, coach Tom Nelson said but he has “some depth concerns as 15 of the 41 players are freshmen.”
The coach said he “will need younger players to step up and contribute while they are learning on the fly.”
Nelson said the Agates have a solid group of seniors who have put time into the new focus on off-season weight training dating back to November. “These seniors will be relied upon heavily for their leadership as well as their talents as they will be asked to log plenty of playing time,” Nelson said.
Seniors include Cole Myrdal, Billy Sell, Brandon Lambe, Jesse Omtvedt, Noah Alm, Tyler McGregor, Micky Smith, Jake Homstad, Anthony Lotti, Parker Kausch, Chris Collins, and Bryan Hooey.
The Agates also return some experienced underclassmen from last season in junior Austyn Wasko and sophomores Mike Nordean, Mark Pearson, and Nick Torgerson.
Nelson said the Agates need to stay away from injuries but “unfortunately they have been bit early and often” by some “freak” injuries, the coach said. Most of them are non-contact or non-football related injuries. Six players have been shelved from one week to as much as the whole season, Nelson said.
Other coaches for the Agates teams are Nelson, Justin Voss, Steve Wasko, Derrick Heitala, Travis Mettner, Roy Levitt, and Ryan McIntyre.
Nelson called his staff “tireless workers who put countless hours into the Agate football program.” Nelson thanked former coaches Matt Peterson, Rick Hogenson, and Ron Fransen.
There are 30 players out for junior high squad of seventh- and eighth-graders. They are coached by Shannon Larson and Jake Schoenberg. Nelson said there is plenty of time for students to join the squad.
The Pony Football league has 40 third- through sixth-graders. They are coached by Casey Hyopponen and Logan Gow.
Nelson said there is plenty of time for students to join any of the football squads.
Today’s varsity game begins at 4 p.m. in Duluth.
Mariners open next week
While the Mariner football team may not have the same quantity of players as they had last season, they return a distinct quality of seasoned players as they lost no one to graduation.
It means all of the starters return on both sides of the ball. Last season the team went 2-6 and lost two games by the margin of a touchdown. Some of the teams who defeated them lost heavily in key positions and numbers to graduation.
Coach Ward Kaiser was hoping more students would come out for the football team.
Returning at quarterback is senior Luke Thun — his third season behind center. He has completed 76 passes for 1,096 yards and has rushed for 998 yards.
The top running backs will be seniors Holden Panetti and Cody Larson and junior Kyle Blood. The trio also led in receiving last season.
On the lines will be senior Baruch Fischer, juniors Leif Maxwell and Preston Westerlund, and sophomores Chad Smuk and Michael Klofstad. Others who return and should see a lot of action are senior Daniel Wilson and sophomores Luc Small and Mark Harris.
Kaiser is looking forward to working with the experienced core group that put in a lot of time with extra work in the off-season. Barring injury, the team could very well win more games than they lose.
The coaching staff returns along with Jamie Otterblad, Chris Belanger, and Erich Richter.
The Mariners are part of a new nine-man football conference this season, the Big North, with members including Bigfork, Cherry, Littlefork-Big Falls, Mountain Iron-Buhl, Northeast Range, Northwoods, and Southridge. The Mariners remain in section five with Cherry, Cromwell, Floodwood, Hill City, McGregor, Northland, Southridge, and Wrenshall.
The varsity season begins next week in Babbitt, with a 3:30 p.m. game Thursday.