Gridiron Series: Jaguars trending upward after first road playoff victory in nearly 20 years

Gridiron Series: Jaguars trending upward after first road playoff victory in nearly 20 years

TRUMAN, Minn. (KEYC) — The Granada Huntley East Chain-Truman nine-man football program is taking advantage of the extra practice time ahead of the first kickoff of the season on Oct. 9.

The Jaguars are deep into their prep-work for week one opponent Nicollet.

“The first day of practice usually we’re doing those install things, and we’re already past that. So, to be here today, we’re kind of getting ready for game plan stuff. It adds a different factor, having two weeks to prepare for somebody," explained Head Coach Bennett Senf.

The Jags are trending upward after snapping a 17-game losing streak this past season. The squad recorded two regular-season wins, then went on to win their first road playoff game in nearly 20 years.

“They just kind of bought into ‘Hey, we worked really hard to get that one playoff win and to end our 17-game losing streak’ so, then, to just keep building on that, they’ve bought into how much you have to work hard to win in this game,” Senf added.

“I notice that we’re all getting stronger and faster and our football IQ is going up, so I feel like we’re going to be a pretty good team,” senior Matthew Heckman stated.

The players are focusing on what they can control, which fifth-year head coach Bennett Senf is preaching during a shortened season.

“That’s what I try to push is that we’re all in this, it’s just a level field of all of us working hard for a common goal,” Senf said.

“We’ve had the highest weight room attendance this year that we’ve ever had,” said senior Cael Jaskulke.

“Everyone has motivation, we want to win, we work hard,” added senior Owen Wolter.

Coming into a six-game season, the Jaguars roster is younger and has less depth compared to last year, following the graduation of four seniors. But there are some veterans leading the way with three seniors playing varsity minutes since their freshman year.

A state championship is the goal for the Jags, but without that promised, the squad is eyeing a top four section finish to have a shot at the section championship.

“Obviously, we want to win state, but you’ve got to take it a week at a time and just work hard every week to get better,” Jaskulke said.

“We’re us, so that’s what we always tell them and we’ve gone through a lot of things as a team. A couple of years ago we had a tornado that rolled through Granada and we’ve just had all these things happen to us and a couple of years ago we didn’t have any quarterbacks or running backs left on the roster, everybody was hurt, and we were teaching wide receivers how to play running back and quarterback," Senf recalled. "So all these things just add up, so we just keep with what we have. They’re really good about just keeping it in-house now, knowing that we are the most important thing and we’re not focused on somebody else. We’re just going to go out and do what we can do.”

Kickoff between the Jaguars and Raiders is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Oct. 9 in Granada.

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