Defending champion Hutchinson gears up for ‘Zero Week’ game
HUTCHINSON, Minn. (KEYC) - Next Thursday, when Hutchinson hosts St. Cloud Apollo for its season opener, the program will add its sixth all-time championship to the stadium, and like most teams that are coming off of a championship season, the focus at Tigers practice has shifted from being champions to bringing home another.
“All last year when we were practicing, we all looked at that banner, and we were all imagining it saying 2021 on there and that’s a dream come true to be able to do that, and now we have a chance to do it again,” senior fullback A.J. Ladwig said.
The Tigers’ success dates back to 1970 when Grady Rostberg assumed the head coaching job and garnered three state titles, two with his son, Andy, at quarterback. Fast-forward to now, and it’s Andy carrying on the tradition of winning.
“He just has a lot of experience and he’s really patient with our players and he understands what it takes to go pretty far with his dad coaching, winning numerous championships. All of our players can just really trust him,” said Alex Elliott, senior linebacker and running back.
The nucleus from last year’s team returns wiser and hungrier to defend its Class 4A hardware. In 2021, the squad made a name for itself with an explosive run game that averaged over 340 rushing yards per game. This year, however, the Tigers will be more versatile with Logan Butler as their arm.
“Our quarterback last year, Colin Nagel, is a tight end up in Duluth this year, and he was a big 240-pound quarterback last year, which he was a great runner for us and a hard-nosed kid,” Head Coach Andy Rostberg said. “We didn’t have as many receivers last year, so we were run heavy and that worked and fit the bill for us. But, this year with Logan Butler in there he’s just more of a passer, Hutchinson football isn’t going to change, we’re going to turn around and hand it off, but we’re hoping to be able to throw more.”
When the coaches do choose to run the ball, it’ll be star veteran Levi Teetzel taking the carries. Teetzel is champing at the bit after suffering an injury early last postseason. Luckily for Hutch, Minnesota commit and linebacker Alex Elliot was the next man up.
“You know, it’s pretty awesome having two guys on the same team that can do wishbone,” said Levi Teetzel, senior running back and strong safety. “It’s really fun, either I’m blocking for him or he’s blocking for me and I know he’s going to put his heart on the line for me and I’m going to put my heart on the line for him, so it’s fun.”
Hutchinson is already onto the second week of practice as the team prepares for its Zero Week game which allows the squad a bye week mid-season.
“The mood has been great, the practices have been high intensity, kids are working hard. They’ve worked hard since last year to prepare themselves for this year and the expectations are every year to try to be great,” Rostberg said.
“We’re really fired up about going back to back, as a senior here we want to leave Hutchinson with a legacy and hopefully people remember the class of 2023 when we leave,” Elliot added.
Kick-off between the Tigers and Eagles is set for 7 p.m. in Hutchinson next Thursday.
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