After just one day of practice, the Kenyon-Wanamingo football program is leaving things better than where it found it.
In lieu of conditioning, players paired up with a bucket to manicure a rock-laden practice field behind the varsity game field.
Once the bucket was filled, one partner ran the bucket down to the other side of the field to deposit the rocks in water.
Some duos took time to unearth big rocks that filled up the bucket. Others rapidly accrued smaller rocks.
All methods worked as the Knights cleaned up one of several fields on campus used for athletic practices, physical education, etc.
Keeping it on the ground
It was a fitting start to a season where K-W plans to run the rock early and often behind what projects to be one the Mid Southeast district’s top lines on either side of the ball.
“We have a lot of returning linemen. We’re going to miss some key positions from last year, but it seems always it’s important trying to figure out who’s on the line and we’ve got a couple guys back from last year with a lot of experience,” said K-W head coach Jake Wieme. “I think that’s really good. If you’ve got a good line, you can run behind it and even throw.”
K-W ran the ball over 80 percent of the time last season but could look to air it out a bit more.
Senior Tate Erlandson is back for his second season starting at quarterback and third receiving reps. Tyler Craig is the leading returning rusher after the graduation of all-district and 1,00-yard rusher, Nate Bauer.
“It’s going good. It’s been fun to see all these new guys come out,” Erlandson said. “I think we have a really good group here.”
Wieme said the program has about 44 to 45 players who will split into a varsity and non-varsity squad this fall. It’s not too late to register.
“It’s kind of how we left (practice on Monday): ‘Hey, if you know someone who wants to play football or has been there in the past, get them out here.’”
Current and prospective players have a lot to be excited about.
The Knights will play at home in Kenyon Aug. 29 against Cleveland in the season opener for their first time on home turf since 2017 due to field reconstruction.
Also beginning on Monday, K-W players will get to break in a new locker room. Athletes were without lockers last spring due to school construction/renovation.
“Everyone’s all hyped up about it. It’s going to be nice, we’re going to be the first ones to play on the brand new field,” said Cole Flom. “You can’t not be excited about that; it’s going to be cool. Especially after last year playing on the road every game. It was rough, going an hour and a half, two hours for every game.”
Wyatt Foss was fired up to get practice underway Monday with an eye toward the ultimate prize of getting through training camp.
He and Carter Quam are among the mashers on the offensive and defensive lines with experience.
“Playing with the team and back under the lights again really gets the adrenaline going,” Foss said. “Just getting back together with the guys and playing good football.”
K-W will seek to improve from a 2-7 season that resulted with two one-point losses and another by six. The defense was solid, allowing 22.7 points per game. It was particularly strong in the first half of the season with eight points allowed through four games.