EXPECTATIONS ARE HIGH IN CALEDONIA, AND THEY SHOULD BE - THIS WARRIOR FOOTBALL TEAM HAS THE POTENTIAL TO BE GREAT
Expectations are high in Caledonia, and they should be - this Warrior football team has the potential to be great
By Dugan Thomas
Caledonia quarterback Owen King prepares to fire in the third quarter of the Warriors 55-7 win Saturday afternoon.
CALEDONIA, MN - 08/27/2015
The Warriors football team unwound in the CaledoniaHigh School wrestling room just minutes after they put a beatdown on the La Crescent Lancers to the tune of 55-7. There weren't any smiling faces. No laughing, no joking around. The Caledonia coaches were debriefing the team on the game that just finished. Plenty of work to be done. Let's get it cleaned up.
Mitchell Schmitz taking the senior leadership role was barking out orders, telling the team what needed to be done for the rest of the weekend. "Let's get it done, no excuses!"
There's plenty of teams around the state that would be pretty proud of a 55-7 first-week victory.
Not this one. The Warriors felt they didn't play up to their abilities, and they aren't going to be happy until they do.
The first quarter definitely highlighted that. First-week high school football games are bound to be sloppy in the first-half. Beginning jitters, player chemistry problems, quarterback/wide receiver timing. The first real-time, full-speed competition for both squads.
The first quarter was full of this until quarterback Owen King rolled out to his right and drilled one to Jacob Winjum at the goal line. Winjum did a snare-job picking the bullet out of the air and getting the ball over the goal line. 7-0 Warriors.
It was over from there, as the big second quarter came and went with 27 more Caledonia points. When Carl Fruechte dialed-up the power-I 3-back set of Schmitz, Sam Stemper, and Alex Goergen, the Lancers had nothing for them. Taking turns at tailback, Stemper and Schmitz ran over La Crescent for the rest of the game. Stemper finished with 156 yards and a touchdown on just 15 carries. Schmitz added another 124 yards with 2 rushing touchdowns and one receiving. 349 total rushing yards in the game for the Warriors. The offensive line of Hoscheit, Mauss, Schieber, Craig, Robley, and Loging plowed holes all afternoon.
Sophomore quarterback Owen King was as-advertised for the Caledonia Warriors. An impressive display of roll-out passes to sideline comeback routes. The zip on the ball was impressive. The 5-step drops, the set-up, the fire. Uncle Carl Fruechte has been working with this young man, the mechanics are stellar. 3 passing touchdowns in the game to Winjum, Colton Lampert, and Schmitz for a total of 102 yards were logged by King. Honestly, there should have been more. Plenty of dropped passes were seen, and touchdowns were lost. But those connections will be there moving forward no doubt, the Caledonia coaches will make sure of that.
The defensive side of the ball started out with Goergen all over the Lancers backfield for a 7-yard loss on the first play. The Warriors defensive line of Zeke Ott, Joe Schieber, Blake Mauss, and Eli Craig, were camped out in the La Crescent backfield all game long it seamed. Ott tallied 3-sacks alone in his coming out party, with 3 interceptions added to the stat-line by Ben McCabe, Sam Stemper, and Jacob Winjum. Mitchell Schmitz added another 2 sacks to his impressive resume, leading his linebacker corps all over the field that afternoon. The Warriors gave up only 15 rushing yards in the game, 65 receiving, for a grand total of 80 yards of total offense for the La Crescent Lancers. Head Coach and defensive guru Brent Schroeder had his stamp all over this one. The newly revived rivalry came and went without much notice, I guess when it's 55-7, there's not much you can do about that.
When you talk about expectations, it's all over this football program, wherever you look. An hour before the game I popped into the Caledonia weight room to see what was going on. Warrior strength coaches Ernie and Eddie Hodges were putting the team through the paces. Both mentally and physically getting these athletes ready for battle. You want to talk about body of work. Schmitz, Stemper, Ott, Winjum, and Goergen without their shirts on in the weight room. Let's just say the Hodges father-and-son duo know what they're doing. The chiseled pecs and abs running around made this look like a college or pro weight room from where I was standing. If you catch Ernie Hodges about a half-hour before game time, just a heads-up, don't expect anything close to a smile, because this man is nothing but business.
But, along with the high expectations, the never-ending hard work, and the lofty goals, there's a human element that most people on the outside never get to see. These six-time state champ powerhouse athletes and coaches see the big picture of things, they know what's going on, and they appreciate everything they have and are given. I struggled all week about whether I should tell this story or not, but I think it's too special not to. It might just get me banned from the Caledonia locker room moving forward, but I guess, I'll just have to take that chance.
After the game in the hallway leading out of the locker room, I passed Coach Fruechte and congratulated him on the win as he was leaving. He was heading home to watch the Minnesota Vikings preseason game, which was just about ready to start at . They have a certain wide receiver on the Vikings squad, a #15 that bares quite a resemblance to Carl, and just so happens to share his last name.
Senior WR/LB special teams guru Symon Ely came running out of the locker room to catch Coach Fruechte. "Hey Coach....Coach Fruechte", said Symon. "I just wanted to thank you for coaching us in the game today...and not going to Minneapolis to watch your son play tonight. It meant a lot to me and rest of the team that you stayed and coached us today. I just wanted to tell you how much we appreciated it."
I though it was a special moment not for just Carl and Symon, but a defining moment on the sacrifice these coaches and players make to each other on a weekly basis. Years ago Coach Fruechte stepped down from the head coaching position so he could be more involved in his kid's athletic careers post high school. Yet, to this day he still struggles to leave the team because of the difference he makes in these young men's lives on a daily basis.
Standing on the sidelines I can hear Coach Fruechte coaching these players all game long, screaming in their ears. Most of the time it's not pleasant, it's nothing personal, just his job of getting absolutely the best out of each athlete. Making sure they do everything the right way. The players know this, and they appreciate it. They want to be the best they can be, and they need the guidance to do it. They have an opportunity in this football program to earn college athletic scholarships to help pay for their higher education. They have an opportunity to play football at the highest level in this sport, if they work hard enough and do all the right things. It's a proven fact in Caledonia.
Caledonia is very lucky to have these coaches that I call "Homegrown", Caledonia born and bred. If not born here, been here forever. Schroeder, Fruechte, Knutson, Mullins, Hauser, Hodges, Kearney, Fruechte, King, Muenkel, Lampert, Miller, King, Hodges, Pitts.
Many of these coaches could definitely have an opportunity in the college or even pro ranks to continue their coaching careers, especially the two at the very top. But they stay here and continue to build this football program in their hometown, because this is where they want to raise their family. Caledonia Football is their life and their family.
This is a special football program here in Caledonia. This is a special community that supports it. And these coaches and athletes that rely on each other on a daily basis are extremely special people.
I just hope they let me back into the locker room.