In the Southeast District, and Section 1-4A football, you need seniors to keep up.
Last year, the Faribault football team only had the benefit of eight seniors on its roster and a 2-8 campaign followed.
This year, though, the Falcons will enjoy 19 seniors that were listed on last year’s roster, as well as a similarly-sized junior class that received significant varsity experience last year.
“It’s two groups with a lot of potential,” Faribault coach Ned Louis said. “We’re excited for the upcoming year.”
Being experienced can go a long way,” Louis added. “We’ve got just about all of our line back, our running backs are back, both of our quarterbacks with Nick Ehlers and Hunter Nelson — we’ve got some good athletes and a nice line up front that got better each week last year.”
In addition to the two returning signal callers, the Falcons also bring back senior running back Alex Gardner, who starred in the team’s 21-14 section quarterfinal win against Albert Lea with two touchdowns and 180 yards rushing.
Adding to that backfield are senior running backs Cade McCusker, John Palmer, Jake Flom and Cael Casteel, all of which will have an easier way navigating through opposing defenses behind an experienced offensive line.
The senior class features linemen Owen Ellendson, Tyler Gillen, Evan Langer, Alex Leet, Jacob Morris and Jordan Nawrocki.
Add seven more linemen that were listed on last year’s roster as sophomores, and the makings of a solid group on both the offensive and defensive lines isn’t difficult to imagine.
“Most of these incoming juniors and seniors have already had valuable playing time and experience,” Louis said.
The size of these next two classes appears to be a trend as well. The incoming freshmen and sophomore football classes both feature roster sizes in the 20s, and while Louis said he’d like to see that number rise to 30, it’s still a solid baseline for the Falcons to improve.
Following a two-win season in 2019 and a three-win year in 2018, Louis says there’s reason to believe his squad will be more competitive week in and week out.
“We’ve had our struggles, but these groups coming up have had some success at the lower levels,” Louis said. “I’m just thinking the biggest thing for these guys is most of them have played on Friday nights, and the same thing can’t be said about our team last year, because we were pretty young.
“If you’re going to win in our district,” he continued, “seniors are really where it starts, so hopefully we have that seniors group now in the next few years where we can take the next step and get back to where we were in 2014, when we made the state tournament.”