The Central Lakes College football team opens play Saturday with just two weeks of practice under its belt.
Add to this the fact the Raiders are welcoming 43 new faces to a 49-man roster and the situation might appear to be one of chaos and disorganization.
But first-year head coach Greg Medeck said that is far from the case. Medeck said the team's early positive chemistry can be credited to three new members of the Raiders' coaching staff.
CLC alumni Lynn Chheang, Paul Fox, and Karson Pike return to the Raiders after a two-year hiatus from their playing days to bolster the coaching staff and provide specialized teaching to the 2007 team.
Pike, who will be the quarterbacks coach, said it is exciting to be around the game again.
"It's been great ... it really fills the void of not playing anymore," he said. "I have a lot of pride for this program and it's a good feeling to be a part of it again."
With the addition of three new members to the staff, all in their first stints as coaches, this year's team will boast seven coaches compared to four during the course of the last two seasons.
Medeck, also a CLC alum who's in his first year as head coach, said the addition of the trio has proved valuable for his inexperienced team.
"Having these guys on staff allows us to provide more individualized teaching and instruction," he said. "This should allow us to do more on game day."
With players now relating to and enjoying the presence of the newest members of the coaching staff, it appears everything has gone smoothly from the start.
But Chheang, who will serve as wide receivers coach, said although everything has gone fairly well in the first two weeks of practice, he was no doubt nervous and apprehensive about how he would be treated by the players before camp opened.
The former Raiders' wide receiver, who had 75 receptions for 797 yards over the course of two seasons, said those fears have quickly subsided.
"I wasn't sure how players would respect me," he said. "But they've been great. They all look forward to learning."
Pike and Chheang, who played together during the 2005 season, now live in St. Cloud and attend St. Cloud State University where both are looking forward to building coaching careers.
Pike is working toward a secondary education degree while Chheang is pursuing a degree in sports management.
Fox, who played on the defensive line from 2004-05 and received his two-year degree from CLC, now works in Pequot Lakes doing construction.
All three found their way back to CLC after offensive coordinator Jim Strohmeier, who had remained in contact with the threesome, approached Medeck with the idea of adding them to the staff.
Medeck said it was a good opportunity which he wanted to take advantage of.
"I said, Sure, why not? Let's give it a shot,'" Medeck said.
Chheang and Pike said they appreciate the opportunity afforded by Medeck and hope their first stint as coaches will help them in their quest to begin a coaching trio that includes roommate Glen Leith, a former Raider teammate who is an assistant football coach at Little Falls High School.
For now, the goal is to make the 2007 version of the Raiders competitive while getting their respective feet wet in collegiate coaching.
Pike said the adjustment to being referred to as "Coach" is still one he is getting used to. He said the team has come a long way in just two weeks.
"Right now the goal is just building chemistry," Pike said. "The wins will come as we grow closer."
TY RUSHMEYER may be reached at 855-5865.
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