Gridiron Series: Thunderbirds look to fly higher in 2020

Gridiron Series: Thunderbirds look to fly higher in 2020

WINTHROP, Minn. (KEYC) — The Gibbon-Fairfax-Winthrop football team is coming off a state tournament appearance last season and is scheduled to begin the season against Martin County West on Oct. 9.

“I think this is the best start I’ve had as a senior," Damian Hopp said. “Everyone just seems like we’re in the same shape as we were last year.”

GFW went from a 5-5 record in 2018 to Section 2A champions last season with an offense that put up more than 40 points on the board on nine different occasions.

Those big numbers come from running a Power T offense that thrives on deception.

”This is the fourth year in this offense. Guys know what they’re doing, and they’re very disciplined in that," Head Coach Pat Hentges said. “They come to the sidelines and say, ‘oh my pad level needs work here’ or ‘I took the wrong step here.’ It’s almost as if we don’t have to coach them, which is great to be more of a mentor and teacher in that way."

”It’s all about our fakes. Just about every day we practice the fakes, make sure we’re sprinting them, running them out because it shows in the game that it helps," junior Brody Hentges added.

“One of our best plays is 40 trap, that’s right behind me. I love it, I love to see my running backs break loose, it’s the best feeling," senior David Stoll said.

”I think they actually could call the plays better than I could during games. They’ve done a great job of owning it. We don’t have the numbers we’d like to have, so we have a number of guys playing multiple positions. It’s great seeing them be flexible in what they can do and make this offense more dynamic," continued Hentges.

The first test for GFW comes against the Mavericks, a team that handed the Thunderbirds a 31-30 loss the last time these two teams met.

Martin County West top the Thunderbirds in tight contest

“I expect them to come out hard fighting fast right away. They have a good running game, but I think we match up really well. We learned last year how to stop it, what to do.”

That game is right around the corner and GFW adapted quickly, just as all the other teams are after the Minnesota State High School League called an audible to switch the season back to fall after originally moving it to the spring.

“I’m not going to lie, it was taxing on us coaches, mentally, of how are we going to get mentally ready. All it took was five minutes, and we were ready to rock. That’s on the kids. They just want to play, be together. When it’s all said and done, it’s about the memories they’ve created, not the wins and losses. That’s what we need to emphasize here,” Hentges added.

Copyright 2020 KEYC. All rights reserved.