Orabs, Midgets ready to go
The first game of the season comes all too soon for the coaches-not soon enough for the players.
After a week of football camp and two full weeks of practice, both Estherville Lincoln Central and Sheldon are ready to see someone else besides their teammates on the opposite side of the ball.
For ELC, Chuck Fandel is a familiar face on the sidelines, but tonight’s game is his first as head coach.
The Midgets a majority of starters. Only Alex Arends, Jeremy Hunt, Kyle Farmer and Dan Jones started against the Orabs a year ago.
“We have a lot of untested areas,” said Fandel. “Hopefully their hard work and enthusiasm will help them grow up quickly. Right now, we need a game and Sheldon will be a good test.”
The Midgets finished 5-4 a year ago and started the season with a 25-13 win over the Orabs.
Of course ELC had Jordan Eggers who rushed for 200 yards and the Midgets were helped by Sheldon penalties and turnovers.
“Sheldon will be good preparation for a tough district schedule,” said Fandel.
The coach points to Alex Arends returning at quarterback as a strength.
“Alex is in his second season and should ups us in that area even though we’re running a slightly different offense,” Fandel said. “We also have Jeremy (Hunt) and Jake (Lange) returning in the linebacker corps. Both have played full season there.”
Sheldon finished with a 4-5 record a year ago and just missed the playoffs.
Coach Matt Meendering, now in his sixth season, said the number of interior players returning our the team’s strength.
“We have seven of eight returning starters in the front eight on defense,” he said. I look at that as a strength.
Offensively we have a good athlete in the backfield with Taylor Zeutenhorst at quarterback. Evan Ascherl is a senior tailback who ran hard at the end of the year.”
The coach has been pleased with practices.
“We’ve had one of the more physical preseasons,” said Meendering. “Last season, we had mental errors and unforced turnovers that cost us. We need to take care of those.”
From Meendering’s perspective, he assumes ELC will change a few things with Fandel as the head coach.
“But I still expect a physical ball club that runs to the ball well,” he said. Offensively, “though they lost Eggers, there always seems to be another kid ready to step up.”
Defensively, Meendering said Arends gave his defense problems a year ago.
“He’s a good athlete and runs the ball well. We have to be ready for that.”
Special teams could play a role too.
Sheldon has a senior kicker in Graeme St. Clair who has held the job for three years.
“He’s improved his strength,” Meendering said. “We also have good competition for the punter.”
Otherwise, the coach said the Orabs are ready to go.
“We’re just ready to hit somebody else,” he said. “in the first game it’s not uncommon for the timing not to be there because the intensity is not the same as practice.”