Park Rapids Football Restoring the Roar
Last season, the Park Rapids football team went winless, losing all nine games they played. This year, a new coaching staff and a new attitude have already shown results, as they have won their first two games of the year 46-0 and 34-0.
That has earned them the number ten spot in the most recent Minnesota state football poll. No one expected the Panthers to be this good. In fact, every coach in the section picked them to finish dead last.
“We remind our kids of that every single day,” says head coach Jeremy Nordick. “Whenever we come out to practice here, we have a little bit of a chip on our shoulder. That’s staff and players included.”
“That chip on our shoulder has definitely helped us to the start we’ve had this year,” says senior running back Tristin Persons.
The new coaching staff has re-energized the team and brought new life to games, workouts, and practices.
“They’re just all hype and it really brings the team up, morale, practices are better,” says senior offensive lineman Kian Scott.
“I think we all just kind of embraced it,” says senior wide receiver Spencer Fritze. “They brought a lot of energy the first practice and we were like, ‘okay, this is what we’re doing.’”
Early morning summer workouts have improved both the team’s strength and unity in the offseason.
“That’s really carried us, that momentum from the hard work over the summer has carried us right to this point,” says Nordick.
The team’s offense has already scored more points than they have last year, and the defense hasn’t allowed a point all season.
“Eleven guys to the ball, that’s what we’ve been getting preached at,” says Fritze. “Gang-tackle, everyone to the ball. As long as we all get to the ball, they’re not going to go anywhere.”
While winning two games is good, there’s a lot more work to be done left this season to restore the roar.
“Last year we were down a lot because we finished off [with an] 0-9 season,” says Scott. “This year, we’re looking on hyping up, even on the bad plays. Just getting ready to work, get back out there, and do what we need to do.”
“We’re going to prove a lot of people wrong this year,” says Persons. “We already have. We’ve already surpassed a lot of expectations. I’m expecting packed stands, even more people surprised.”