FIELD TWP – For the Grizzlies, meeting expectations in next Thursday’s season opener against Cromwell-Wright could be the major challenge after last year’s Section 7 Nineman football …
FIELD TWP – For the Grizzlies, meeting expectations in next Thursday’s season opener against Cromwell-Wright could be the major challenge after last year’s Section 7 Nineman football championship. Players and fans may have to adjust to a new normal after the team lost eight seniors, including standout quarterback Tate Olson, runningback Brendan Parson and fullback Garrett Abramson, to graduation.
Head Coach John Jirik said he knows his team, unlike last year, probably won’t be favored in many of this season’s matchups. “We have lots of positions to fill and have quite a few players working hard to earn spots,” he said. “Our strength will be speed. Our area in need of improvement is experience. We can only improve as we learn from game situations and practice throughout the season.”
Only five starters from last season, all seniors, are taking the field this year. Senior Chase Kleppe will take the snaps and he’ll find a likely target in senior Tanner Barto, whose sure hands at wide receiver proved an effective weapon for the Grizzlies last year. Kleppe will also play as a defensive linebacker. Returning defensive starters include tackle Hayden Picek, linebacker Jake Hyppa and Trevor Morrison at end.
“We’re looking to improve each week,” Jirik said. “Our goal is to be highly competitive by playoff time.”
The season will also see the Grizzlies play an 11-man game against International Falls on Sept. 28.
Kickoff for next week’s game against Cromwell-Wright will be at 7 p.m. at North Woods.