Rebels are ready for footballA tradition of friendships, dedication and past success is what illustrates Moose Lake-Willow River football, as the Rebels started practice last week for the 2013 season.
By: Tyler Korby, Pine Journal
Cooling off Tuesday evening, Ezra Szczyrbak enjoyed a swim off his family’s home on Moose Horn Lake.
Several teammates joined the football family outing.
A tradition of friendships, dedication and past success is what illustrates Moose Lake-Willow River football, as the Rebels started practice last week for the 2013 season.
Szczyrbak, a strapping 6-foot-5, 240-pound Moose Lake High School senior who plays both defensive end and offensive guard, is a Division I prospect and captain now in his fourth season on varsity. The two-way stalwart, along with teammate Brett Hawkins and fellow captain Hunter Herzog, are the only returning starters from last year’s Class AA Prep Bowl runner-up to Caledonia.
“That was difficult — a tough loss to swallow,” said Szczyrbak of their lone 25-22 defeat to the Warriors as time expired at the Metrodome in November. “But that’s what’s motivated us all to put in the work this summer.
“We want to get back, play Caledonia again, and win a state championship,” Szczyrbak continued. “We want to become the greatest Rebel football team of all time.”
Szczyrbak said he and 30-40 fellow teammates spent their summer attending camps, lifting weights and flipping tractor and truck tires until preseason two-a-day practices began last Monday with 65 anxious players.
“Since the end of November, they’ve been counting down the days to play again,” said Coach Dave Louzek, starting his 15th season. “And the expectations never change.”
“Over the years we have graduated many great players, but the kids always come back believing it’s their season,” added Louzek, who has led the Rebels to every state tournament since 2005, as well as a current 54-game regular season win streak. “It’s their time.”
Another Moose Lake senior captain, Jon Evenson, agreed.
“This is pretty much what we do,” said Evenson. “I love playing for Moose Lake-Willow River. Everyone is all so close. Just like a family.”
A football family.
“Coach Louzek always talks about family,” added Szczyrbak, who helped man the grill after swimming. “That’s why we’re so good and go so far. We’re a family.”