MAPLETON, Minn. (KEYC) - The Maple River football team is busy gearing up for the 2019 season with hopes to bounce back after a disappointing finish last season.
“We’re pretty excited to get back out there and show everybody what we’ve got,” said Nathan Trio, Maple River senior.
A first round section tournament exit in 2018 has the Maple River Eagles fired up and ready to work as the squad prepares for the upcoming year.
The group is experienced with over 20 seniors on the roster looking to get back to the state tournament for the second time in four years.
“Some of them played in 2016 for the State Tournament, they got to experience that, and they’re hungry to get back there. Football has become a big part of this community, they come out and support us Friday nights and on the road. You want to raise that bar again as a senior and leave your mark on the program,” said Dusty Drager, Maple River head coach.
“We’re all very hungry after last year. We want to be better than we’ve ever been. We’re going to push ourselves and the team hopefully further than anyone’s been before,” Wyatt Simon, Maple River senior.
Last season, the Eagles held opposing offenses to under 20 points per game, and the defense should turn in more of these highlight reel plays in 2019.
“Our defense is definitely going to be our number one strength, our o–line will be solid. We have some pretty big guys up front,” said Trio.
“We’ll all be trying to tear the ball out, we want the ball. Our defense gets angry if we’re out there too long. We’re going to be there, be in your way. We’re not going to step down from anything,” said Simon.
There’s been a different champion in section 2AA for the past few years and everyone figures to be in the mix again this season.
“In the last 7–8 years, you have Blue Earth, Maple River, NRHEG for the first time, WEM a couple years, it’s a widespread of talented programs. Prior to that it was Waterville or Triton coming out of the section. It’s a sign of our programs getting better which results in a lot of good football games. Games in October and November are crazy, no matter what seed you are, there’s been a lot of success for our programs,” said Drager.
Maple River opens up the season at home on Thursday, August 29, against Blue Earth Area.