OKABENA -- Pairings work sometimes, and sometimes they don’t.
You never really know until it happens whether you’re going to get a Rodgers and Hammerstein (ask your parents) or a Tom and Jerry.
Before the Heron Lake-Okabena and Fulda football teams paired up a couple of years ago, who knew? The two high school grid programs had fallen on hard times -- not that they didn’t have good players, but they didn’t have enough of them. Both schools still remember the good ol’ days when they fielded outstanding teams, but just before the merging their enrollment numbers were going in the wrong direction.
Now in 2019, they call themselves the Coyotes. And they’re quite competitive, owning a 2-4 record with games against Mountain Lake Area and Red Rock Central coming up to close out the regular season. Not only is the team competitive, it appears to have bonded.
One of the team’s top players, junior halfback/linebacker Matt Madsen, is having a good fall. In fact, he has re-established the program’s all-time single-game rushing record multiple times already this year (relax: don’t forget the pairing is only in its second season).
In any case, The Globe caught up to Matt on the practice fields in Okabena recently and prepared a Drill episode. You can catch the video online at www.dglobe.com. Here is a sampling of the interview:
QUESTION: So how do you think the Heron Lake-Okabena and Fulda pairing is going this fall?
ANSWER: “The pairing with Fulda has been amazing. I was pretty skeptical coming into it because I didn’t know if I would like the guys or if it would go well, but I’ve made a lot of friends. We all get along very well. And we have a good mesh of players, and it’s really pretty even between who plays from either school.”
QUESTION: How would you describe your style as a running back?
ANSWER: “My style as a running back -- it’s always fun to run people over, but I don’t get the opportunity to do that a lot. I don’t get a lot of opportunities to run guys over and be like a really strong back, so I like to try to find holes and go where I need to be. We kind of have a joke on the team that I can squat about 350 pounds, so I can drag an extra five guys an extra five yards after they tackle me.”
QUESTION: What do you do to be a good teammate?
ANSWER: “I just try to keep everyone focused and in the right mentality, so then we can go have a good week of practice and then have a good game.”