The Drill: In football and hoops, Fest is a leader at HL-O/F

FULDA -- Eli Fest, like all his teammates on the Heron Lake-Okabena/Fulda high school football team, has lived through a strange fall odyssey. It’s weird enough to have been forced to cancel a game this year, but the Coyotes have had one canceled moments before it was supposed to have started.

They were to play a regular season contest at Hills-Beaver Creek. And … well, let Eli tell it.

“So we went to Hills and we were supposed to play them. And as we got there, we knew when we showed up that there was a possibility of getting it canceled because we knew a kid tested positive (for coronavirus). So we showed up ready to play, started warming up, and then one of the parents of one of our offensive linemen said the school called them and told them he was in close contact. So we had to call it right then and there.”


“It was pretty deflating, sitting there all week. But it kind of just pushed me and our team to keep going, and the next opportunity we get we’re not gonna let it go. … It’s tough not knowing what the future holds. But at the same time, you kind of cherish it a little bit more.”


Despite a season of uncertainties, Heron Lake-Okabena/Fulda recently finished off a 5-1 football season. Fest, a senior quarterback, was a major reason why. This week’s Drill subject, in fact, is a big contributor in three sports -- basketball and baseball, too -- for the Coyotes. He’s a 1,000-point scorer in basketball with one year remaining.

“The next goal now is to try and get the school record for boys, which is around 1,400. So that’s what I’m shooting for this year,” he said.

The question remains, however, whether he will be able to play in enough games to make that goal a reality. The winter sports season is grounded in a state-mandated “pause” until mid-December. Alas, the uncertainty continues.

The youngest of three brothers, Fest grew up wanting to compete in sports at a high level. He became an important member of his high school football and basketball teams at a relatively young age. In football, he learned to move the ball forcefully both as a passer and a runner.

We wanted to hear Eli’s story from the HL-O student-athlete, himself. So we traveled to Fulda for one of the football team’s last practices before the pause went into effect. You can see the video online at . Here’s a sample of the full interview:

QUESTION: How has the HL-O pairing with Fulda gone for you?

ANSWER: “I’ve loved every minute with Heron Lake and Okabena joining Fulda. ‘Cuz I knew some of the guys coming and I was pretty good friends with ‘em. And sports, and everything else has been really good.”

QUESTION: What would you say is your best attribute as a player?


ANSWER: “My best attribute, I think, is probably just being able to be versatile, being able to do multiple things well for our team. If that means on offense being able to run or pass, or on defense being able to cover or being able to get in the box and hit somebody.”

QUESTION: Do you have a sports memory that you’re probably always going to remember?

ANSWER: “When we were younger in the fourth grade, we played a really good team -- and we were a really good young team, we probably hadn’t lost a game. And so we were playing up at Westbrook and we actually lost, and we lost pretty bad. We lost by about 20 points. And during the entire game everybody was crying and crying, and kids were getting mad at each other. After that game, one of the players’ parents took us all on a walk and was trying to calm us down.”


Eli Fest.jpg
Heron Lake-Okabena/Fulda football player Eli Fest makes a throw at a late-season practice. (Tim Middagh/The Globe)

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