Football: Lakers look to improve on 2-7 record
The Minnewaska football team finished 2-7 overall a season ago and 2-4 in the conference. This year, with 21 returning letterwinners, second year head coach Jeremy Christensen thinks they can improve on that.
"We feel that we have a very quality team this year and look to compete week in and week out," Christensen said. "We return a lot of experience on both offense and defense and have a good group of seniors that we look to for leadership. If we can stay healthy and eliminate the amount of mental mistakes, I honestly believe this team is talented enough to compete for district and section championships."
It took the Lakers awhile to get going last season due to the loss of "one of the best classes in Minnewaska history in 2016," according to Christensen, but their first win finally came on homecoming night against Sauk Centre by a score of 20-16. Their other win came two weeks later with a 30-7 win over Benson.
In the first round of the Section 5AA playoffs, Minnewaska fell to Paynesville 42-14 to end the season. This year, the team will rely on their experience and their run game.
"We have above average athletes at every position and should be able to match up well against a variety of different style teams," said Christensen.
The teams the Lakers will have to overcome to win the conference are BOLD, Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City and Morris Area-Chokio-Alberta, while contenders for the 5AA championship include last year's Class-AA state runner up Eden Valley-Watkins, newly added Holdingford, Paynesville and Osakis.
Grove City is the destination for the Lakers' week two game on Sept. 8 before they host BOLD and MACA back to back on Sept. 22 and Sept. 29, respectively.
As the year moves along, Minnewaska will focus on improvement in stringing together drives on offense and stopping the run defensively.
"We must be better in those areas in order for us to be successful," Christensen said. "If we can control the clock while moving the football on the ground and force our opponents to be one-dimensional, we will be very tough to beat."
The Lakers open the season at home with a 7:30 p.m. matchup against Maple Lake at Minnewaska Area High School on Aug. 31. The Irish finished 6-5 last year.
MINNEWASKA AREA FOOTBALL
Aug. 26 @ Melrose Area (scrimmage), 9 a.m.
Aug. 31 vs. Maple Lake, 7:30 p.m.
Sept. 8 @ ACGC, 7 p.m.
Sept. 15 @ Montevideo, 7 p.m.
Sept. 22 vs. BOLD, 7 p.m.
Sept. 29 vs. Morris Area-C-A, 7 p.m.
Oct. 6 @ Sauk Centre, 7 p.m.
Oct. 13 vs. Osakis, 7 p.m.
Oct. 18 @ Benson, 7 p.m.
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