NEW RICHLAND, Minn. (KEYC) — The New Richland-Hartland-Ellendale-Geneva Football team got back on the field for the new season last week.
The Panthers went 9 and 3 overall last season winning the section championship over Lake Crystal–Wellcome Memorial and advancing to the first round of the state tournament where they fell to Caledonia.
Head Coach Marc Kruger has high expectations for this new season as well.
“I think we can easily win the section again, I think we have the talent, it’s just getting the kids up to speed, our JV and C squad had great years last year, we had a great time in the weight room, we went to a camp at Bemidji this year, so I think we have the talent, we should win the section, I think. I think I told the kids that too so that’s kind of how our mindset is we just have to get up to speed on everything else besides talent,” Marc Kruger, Panthers head coach, said.
The influence of upperclassman has proven to be mandatory for this team’s success.
“I think I can really help out the younger kids and let them know what they have to do, what their responsibilities are and make sure I can count on them," Mason Ferber, Panthers senior tight end/defensive end.
“Everyone has got to step up, we lost a lot of seniors last year and as a junior we definitely have to step up our game and work hard,” Nick Staloch, junior running back/linebacker said.
“We only have five seniors this year so we have a really small senior class, but that group of five, I’ve seen them really step up, between plays they grab a younger kid they saw do something wrong, they’re pointing stuff out, or it’s in the locker room, or it’s how we do things. They kind of make a joke, I’m particular about everything, we do things the right way no matter what and it’s kind of rubbed off. The seniors are the same way, they don’t allow us to be messing around, they don’t allow us to half way do a drill or anything like that, they make the younger kids do it over again too before the coaches say it sometimes,” Kruger said.
The team plans to keep their drive strong as they enter this 2019 season.
“You’ve always got to win the moment, every moment, every play, every snap, everything, every little aspect of the game,” Kordell Schlaak, Panthers junior running back/defensive end, said.
“It’s going to be a lot of work but I think we can definitely do it,” Ferber said.
The Panthers start their season with a new opponent, Jackson County Central, on Thursday, Aug. 29.