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Doug Wolter: It's very early; area teams need the proper perspective

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The high school football season has barely begun. So it’s too early to get overconfident. And too early to get demoralized, too.

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A rational perspective is what coaching staffs need to be drilling into their players these days. And nowhere are the extremes more evident than they are with the Worthington Trojans and Sibley-Ocheyedan Generals.

The Trojans opened their 2013 campaign last Friday with a 26-0 loss to Fairmont. The Trojans stayed right with the Cardinals throughout the first half, which ended with FHS out in front, 6-0. The second half did not go so well for head coach Brad Grimmius’ outfit.

The Generals had a better night in their opener. A year ago, they suffered a 43-0 setback against Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn. But last Friday they rallied from behind to earn a 13-12 victory.

This week, Grimmius remains upbeat. And he says his players are as prepared as he is to fix the mistakes and have a fine season. Meanwhile, Sibley-Ocheyedan first-year head coach Kyle Ewinger is preaching the same kind of even-keeled approach.

In reverse, sort of.

Trojans know what

they need to do

After a road game in Fairmont, WHS faces another road game Friday against another team nicknamed “Cardinals.” This time it’s Southwest Conference opponent Luverne, which defeated New Ulm 28-6 in its season opener. Grimmius says his Trojans are in good shape physically, and as for the mental aspect, they’re working on it.

“The guys took it tough after the (Fairmont) game. But that’s a good thing,” Grimmius said on Tuesday just before the start of after-school practice.

No doubt, Worthington will have its hands full again with Luverne. The Cardinals, like they often do, have big linemen up front. They run out of the I formation, and they do the option. Grimmius says the Trojans will need to be on their toes.

“We’ve got to match up with them intensity-wise,” he says.

Their intensity probably could’ve been better last Friday. Against FHS, the Trojans gave up one big play in the first half and failed to capitalize on their own chances. They were inside the red zone twice in the first half and both times failed to score.

“We easily could’ve went in at halftime up 14 to nothing,” said the coach.

In the second half, breakdowns multiplied. Part of the problem was that the Trojans hadn’t expected that Fairmont — traditionally a running team — would pass as often as it did. They already knew FHS quarterback Spencer Chirpich was an excellent baseball pitcher, but that the Cards’ football brain trust would let him open it up was a surprise to everyone.

Grimmius was happy that the WHS coaching staff didn’t need to go to the players to tell them they need to improve. Most of the starters came to the coaches on Monday to express their determination to correct their mistakes. As a result, everybody was ready to go back to work this week.

So Grimmius is maintaining his equilibrium quite nicely, thank you. He remains pleased that the Trojans’ running game showed some success against Fairmont (although penalties will need to be eliminated). As for the WHS passing game, let’s just say it didn’t go over nearly as well as Fairmont’s did. There were many different things involved in the passing breakdowns, said the coach — a lot of little things to get squared away.

But the bottom line is this:

“This team’s hungry,” said Grimmius on Tuesday. “This was Week One. It’d be a little different if it were Week Eight. Then I’d be concerned.”

Sibley-Ocheyedan

shows resilience

Don’t look now, but the Generals need to guard against complacency this week.

Believe it, a Sibley-Ocheyedan team that has had more than its share of disappointing seasons in recent years, including a 1-8 campaign in 2012, is 1-0. The team that they beat last Friday —Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn — squashed the Generals 43-0 last year.

The Generals were squashed many times last season, in fact. They lost another game by a slimmer margin, 14-0. But they lost others by scores of 42-6, 49-0, 54-18, 46-0, 40-16 and 54-0. Their one victory last year was against (you guessed it), Okoboji. By a score of 8-0.

Here’s the thing: Ewinger wasn’t born yesterday. He knows that winning teams need to guard against overconfidence, and he knows that losing teams lick their chops when a rival comes up in the schedule that they think they can beat.

Right now the Generals are flying high. Fans are starting to believe, too.

But:

“If we were to lose against Okoboji, then the game against HMS didn’t matter,” says Ewinger.

And Okoboji?

“I’m sure that’s one they think they can get,” he adds.

Even so, the Generals have gotten off to a great start. Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn scored the game’s first 12 points last Friday, but S-O still rallied back to win. That’s not so easy to do for a program that’s been down in the dumps before.

“I think we learned that we’re resilient,” Ewinger said.

Before the season began, Ewinger hinted that good things might be in store for this 2013 Generals outfit, which worked hard in the offseason to get into great football shape for the fall. There was an excellent crowd for the road game at HMS, and Ewinger expects another fine crowd for the home game against Okoboji. Ewinger even goes so far to say that many of the “naysayers” (and you know every fan base has them) will be sitting in the stands.

One game at a time. But Ewinger isn’t afraid of success.

“We have a real opportunity,” he says, “to reverse the script.”

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Doug Wolter
Doug Wolter is the Daily Globe sports editor. He served as sports reporter, then sports editor, news editor and finally managing editor at the Daily Globe for 22 years before leaving for seven years to work as night news editor at the Mankato Free Press in Mankato. Doug now lives in Worthington with his wife, Sandy. They have three children and six grandchildren. Doug, retired after a lengthy career in fast-pitch softball, enjoys reading, strumming his acoustic guitar and hanging around his grandchildren. He self-publishes short stories in his spare time. Two of his stories, "The Genuine One" and "The Old Man in Section 129" are being distributed through a national publisher.
(507) 376-7328
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