Fresh, focused and ready to compete is the Faribault High School football team in 2019.
There are position battles aplenty as fall camp opened Monday with plenty of underclassmen expected to contribute this season, particularly on the lines.
“There’s a lot of depth at a lot of positions,” said senior tight end/linebacker Dylan Lippert. “There are a lot of kids who played last year who might not this year because we have a lot of good young kids.”
Head coach Ned Louis is pleased by the maturity he’s seen thus far.
“We had a great summer with strength and conditioning, our camp and 7-on-7,” Louis said. “What I’ve noticed early here is it’s a fun group. They work hard, they have great attitudes and they’re fun to be around. It is a group I’m really looking forward to coaching this year. Not huge numbers, a small senior class, so we’ll lean heavily on the underclassmen to fill in key roles. We have some nice size up front and some athleticism to go with it. Definitely a young team, but the seniors we do have are good leaders and we’re going to ask a lot of them.”
The Falcons are modernizing their offense as they move further from their more traditional Wing T concepts to a more balanced attack with offensive coordinator Shane Gunderson at the helm.
Faribault plans to keep its identity of a running team built around its young, but sizable, line while mixing in some shotgun looks.
“It’s kind of a wrinkle for our centers,” Lippert said. “They’re not very good at long snaps yet, but they’re coming around on it.”
Faribault averaged 16 points per game in 2018 but against non-state ranked teams scored over 23 and had games of 48 and 49.
“The game’s changing so we’ve got to change with it,” Louis said. “It puts the defense in some conflicts that are really working for programs so we better get on board. We’ve got some athletes and when you go to some zone stuff up front with our size we can use that size to our advantage and hopefully move people. If not this year, they will next year.”
Junior Bryce Nolen enters his first year starting at quarterback.
“It’s going great,” Nolen said of beginning to work with the offense. “This is the first year we’ve actually had a big line. We average about 260 (pounds), which is great.”
Lippert and senior wide receiver Cole Flom expect to be his top targets. Junior running back Alex Gardner is the leading returning rusher.
Lippert, a first-team all Big Southeast linebacker in 2018, is the only returner from FHS’ six all-district selections.
Faribault opens the season Aug. 30 against Austin.