Loaded with seniors, the Cardinals football team is readyThe end of a long and powerful run atop Minnesota nine-man football may be coming at Cromwell-Wright. But not this year. Coach Jeff Gronner has 26 players out for this year’s team – and 12 of them are seniors.
By: Jeff Papas, Pine Journal
The end of a long and powerful run atop Minnesota nine-man football may be coming at Cromwell-Wright. But not this year.
Coach Jeff Gronner has 26 players out for this year’s team – and 12 of them are seniors.
“That’s the largest amount of seniors I’ve had since I’ve been here,” Gronner said. “They’re all working hard and showing great leadership. It’s nice to have that kind of experience on the field. It makes everything go smoother.”
Last year’s Cardinals finished 10-2 and won the Section 5 championship before losing to Ada-Borup in the state quarter-finals. The core of that team is back for this season.
That includes three-year starter Jordan Suhonen at
“He rushed for 1,200 yards last year and passed for another 800, so we think we’re set there,” Gronner said. “We also have Mike Hedin back, as a four-year starter on defense.”
Running back Dylan Mattson is also back.
Gronner, not surprisingly, is very happy with his team’s depth, given there could be at least three seniors on the bench on any given play.
“The strength of our team is the line on both sides of the ball,” Gronner said. “We have nine or 10 guys who are varsity caliber guys on the lines. That’s a nice problem to have.
“I’d like to think we could both run and pass,” Gronner continued. “We classify ourselves as a running team. We have some speed but also have some physical guys who can come right at you depending on what the defense gives us.”
The Cardinals will likely try to wear down their opposition due to their senior depth.
“We will probably play a four- or five-man front, get our players on the field and rotate them, to keep them fresh,” Gronner said. “If we stay healthy, we’re going to be pretty good.”
The Cardinals expect stiff opposition from McGregor and Floodwood in league play this year. The Mercuries, who handed Cromwell-Wright their only regular-season loss last year, graduated only one starter. Meanwhile, the Polar Bears, who Cromwell-Wright beat 22-0 in the section championship game, are also returning a strong team.
Cromwell-Wright opens the season at home against Nevis on Friday, Sept. 3.
However, Gronner also notes that challenges lie ahead.
“Based on our senior leadership, we are expecting big things for the season,” he said, “but we are going to be in a numbers crisis over the next three or four years. There just aren’t a lot of boys in the upcoming classes. We’ll have a few years where we will struggle for numbers.”