Agates push forward in tough conferenceThe Agates football team has had a rough start this season.
By: LaReesa Sandretsky, Lake County News Chronicle
The Agates football team has had a rough start this season.
First, they lost 11 seniors to graduation last year, meaning this season started with a young, less experienced team. Second, their starting and second-string quarterbacks were layed-up with injuries before the official season started. Junior Kyle Omtvedt tore his ACL and sophomore Alex Lemke broke his collarbone in preseason practices. Finally, according to head coach Tom Nelson, this is the toughest conference the Agates have faced in years.
“It’s going to be a challenge this year,” Nelson said.
On the plus side, the team is hard-working and respectful, Nelson said. The Agates have a big team and they’re making steady progress. They plan to build on their successes and on the confidence they’re gaining with each game.
“We’re not going to just accept a bad season,” Nelson said.
Nelson has a full, experienced coaching staff to back him up. Justin Voss handles defense and Steve Wasko focuses on special teams, but Nelson said all the coaches work with everyone. Ryan McIntyre, Luke Heikkila, Roy Levitt, Rick Hogenson, Derrick Hietala and Todd Beck round out the roster.
The team also has a strong history to build on. Last year, they ended the season just one game from going on to the state tournament. They lost in the Section 7AA finals to Moose Lake/Willow River who went on to be runner-up in the state championship game.
Last Friday, the team played Hinckley-Finlayson, whom they beat in an upset during semifinals last year. The Hinckley-Finlayson Jaguars still have most of their starters from last year and a lot of experience, so the Agates knew they were in for a tough match, according to Nelson.
Through the first three quarters, the Agates held their own, entering the fourth quarter trailing only 20-12. They gave it good effort, but the last quarter proved to be the breaking point for the young Agates.
“The wheels came off in that last quarter of play. Our kids fought hard, but that last quarter the senior-led team from Hinckley took over the game,” Nelson said.
Nelson said the team put together two impressive drives and showed they are capable of moving the ball, but consistency is an issue with so few players having varsity experience.
Mike Nordean, junior captain, will be a key player this year, Nelson said. He rushed 21 times for 95 yards and two touchdowns during the Hinckley-Finlayson game and had one interception.
“Nordean ran the ball well for us and also played a nice defensive game for us,” Nelson said.
Senior captains Bryan Deming and Austyn Wasko have stepped up as leaders for the team, Nelson said. Wasko had six tackles in the Hinckley-Finlayson game
Sophomore fullback Tim Bott rushed 13 times for 28 yards and one touchdown. Sophomore running back Lucas Kempffer added 96 yards rushing on 15 carries. Defensively, senior safety Skylar Lysaker added five tackles, and sophomore Tim Bott and freshman Nick Uvalli each contributed four tackles. Junior defensive back Nick Johnson intercepted a Hinckley-Finlayson pass, with Johnson also recovering a Jaguar fumble.
The final score was 44-18 in favor of the Jaguars.
Nelson said the players have stepped up to this year’s challenge and consistently put their best effort forward. The Agates football family, as Nelson calls them, has faced some setbacks but they keep working and hope it shows in games later this season.
“I am very proud of our kids and the way they have been working and hope we will continue to improve,” Nelson said.