CALEDONIA FOOTBALL PREVIEW 2016: STARS RETURN AND NEW FACES EMERGE, THE WARRIORS GOAL IS U.S. BANK STADIUM
Caledonia Football Preview 2016: Stars return and new faces emerge, the Warriors goal is U.S. Bank Stadium
By Dugan Thomas
2016 Caledonia Football seniors. Nick Loging, Dalton McHan, Carson Bullerman, Thomas Jergenson, Austin Werner,
Ethan Zahn, Alex Goergen, Zeke Ott, Ben McCabe, Mitchell Bechtel. Not pictured, Brandon Robley.
Caledonia, MN - 08/31/2016
The Caledonia Warriors football team enters the season with at least 3 Division-1 college prospects on it's roster. With that kind of talent, you would think the team would be loaded and ready to slay the competition again this year on it's way to State. The reality is, after a dominating 2015 state championship season, and a 2015 Minnesota Football Program of the Year award, the Warriors have to replace the 10+ senior studs that barely left the field last year. In all honesty, this is one of the biggest rebuilding years for Caledonia Football in recent memory, but the Warriors have proven time and time again they don't rebuild - they reload, and they've been working their tails off since last November with their eyes on another state championship run.
Caledonia senior defensive end Zeke Ott had his 2015 state playoffs and championship game stolen from him by an ACL knee injury in the last regular season game. He was leading the State of Minnesota in quarterback sacks at the time of injury. A number of D-1 schools were watching and getting ready to pounce with an offer when Zeke went down. Sedated and nauseous from the medication of the recently completed ACL reconstruction surgery, Zeke had to watch the 2015 state championship game from home. Now, 10 months later, those D-1 schools are still watching, waiting to see how Zeke comes back from the injury. North Dakota has already offered, Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota State, Northern Iowa, the list goes on - will be ready if he balls-out the first couple of games of 2016. I've been to practice and seen his desire, the young man is on a mission to get back for the 2016 season, and to continue his quest to be a Division-1 football player and a state champion. He locked himself in the weight room over the last 10 months and is a chiseled 6'-3" and 225 pounds. Keep an eye on Zeke Ott, he will be one of the top-5 football players in the State of Minnesota.
First-team AP All-State quarterback Owen King returns to lead the Warriors again this year. After 2,400 yards passing, 44 touchdowns, and a dominating performance in the state championship game in 2015, the junior might just be the best quarterback in the State of Minnesota. Northstar Football News has King rated the #1 football prospect in the Class of 2018, 247 Sports has him #2, the rating is legit. D-1 South Dakota State has already offered King a basketball scholarship, and the dual-sport star will be getting plenty of offers in the next two years if he continues to light-it-up again this year. Does he like basketball better than football? The rumor is there, but it doesn't matter, because he wants to lead his team to another championship game this season, that has already been stated by him - basketball can wait a few more months.
Running under the radar in the recruiting world, but not short on talent is Caledonia senior running back/safety Ben McCabe. A starting safety for the Warriors last year, and a part-time running back, McCabe will be the starting tailback for Carl Fruechte's offense this year. Flashing the speed and quick hitting power out of the backfield, McCabe had a little under 300 yards and 5 touchdowns in a limited role last year, but garnered 8 interceptions on the defensive side of the ball. Reportedly a number of D-1 schools are watching Ben McCabe as a safety prospect, including North Dakota, North Dakota State, and South DakotaState. I expect a big year out of McCabe carrying the rock for the Warriors as he will be RB#1 this year. The bulked-up McCabe will also get plenty of work at linebacker for Brent Schroeder's defense.
Maybe not a D-1 football prospect because of his height, but a definite D-1 wrestling prospect, Caledonia senior Alex Goergen led the team in tackles last season from his linebacker spot. The third-year starter has the talent and experience to be one of the best two-way football players in all of Minnesota this year. Goergen was one of the Warriors that stole the show at the state championship last November with multiple receptions and two touchdowns from his tight-end spot. Running back, tight-end, linebacker, punter and kicker, Alex will be a valuable contributor on offense, defense, and special teams. He's proven it for two years in a row, I'm betting year-3 will be his best, no doubt about it.
The only returning starter for the Warriors offensive line will be senior Brandon Robley. Sliding over to be the main man at center, Robley will be making the offensive line calls this season. Also a starting linebacker for Caledonia in 2015, Brandon's experience on both sides of the ball will invaluable for the Warriors. His younger brother by a year, junior Brent Robley has experience on the offensive and defensive line, and will be expected to be a big contributor as well this season. Seniors Nick Loging, Dalton McHan, and Carson Bullerman, along with juniors Spencer Stemper, David Seymour, and freshman Matt Gavin will all be in the mix on the offensive line.
Welcome to Caledonia junior Marten Morem. Principal Mary Morem's son decided to transfer from Blooming Prairie, and the Warriors are sure glad he did. One of the most impressive football players I witnessed at camp last week, the reported 6' 5" Morem caught the ball fluidly, and had plenty of athleticism to spare. I expect him to be in the mix starting at wide receiver, and also at cornerback. Andrew Goergen, Mitchell Bechtel, Thomas Jergenson, and Jordan Burg will all be getting shots at wide receiver, and in the defensive secondary.
The competition was still pretty stiff in camp for a number of positions, but Mason Staggemeyer, Austin Werner, Ethan Zahn, Noah Snell, and Walker Spier stood out in camp, and will be big contributors this season.
Junior wide receiver Sam Barthel had a breakout season last year, and is one of the fastest and most athletic players on the team this year. He's currently rehabbing a broken foot, and will be a few weeks out from returning to action. The coaching and training staff have been taking it slow and being cautious with Sam, he might be one of the best athletes in southeast Minnesota when healthy.
The Caledonia coaching staff returns intact, head coach Carl Fruechte, assistant head coach/defensive coordinator Brent Schroeder, assistants John Hauser, Mitch Mullins, Brad King, Randy King, Ryan Pitts, Reece Waite and company continue to mold these Caledonia athletes, and they have together produced the best football program in the State of Minnesota. The Caledonia tradition continues on because they have the best leaders, mentors, and teachers in the business, and these kids do their best to follow their coaches lead day in and day out.
Caledonia might be rebuilding, or reloading, but they have enough stars and new faces to be major contenders again this year. The Warriors always gel throughout the year and continue to get better game by game. Hopefully the injury train will slow down, and the Warriors can get healthy soon. When it comes to competition in the regular season, Triton gave Caledonia a stiff test last year. Chatfield is always tough, and you never know who'll rise to the challenge. Everyone will be coming for Caledonia with their best. La Crescent has the first shot Friday night in La Crescent, game time .