Ask first-year Central Lakes College Raiders football players Scott Imgrund or Matt Yde, both Brainerd High School graduates, how college football differs from high school football and their response comes quickly and in perfect unison:
"They hit harder in college."
"They definitely hit harder here," Imgrund said. "I have some bruises that can attest to that. And, everything's faster, too. In high school, the holes would be there for a while. Here, the holes disappear fast."
Imgrund is a running back with an easy manor and quick smile. Yde quarterbacks the team and has a confidence to complement his outgoing personality. Both are relaxed and ready to play their first college home game at 1:30 p.m. Saturday when the Raiders take the field against Vermilion. Both teams bring 1-1 records into Saturday's contest.
Yde sees other differences in the college game. "Everything is quicker," he said. "Everything's faster. You've just got to adjust as fast as you can. And, we throw a lot more here than we did in high school."
Both will have to play well and fill important roles if the Raiders are to notch their second win of the season. Raiders coach Mike Degen has unveiled a game plan that emphasizes a ball-control offense. That means changing roles for both players.
"We'll be concentrating on the fakes more to draw the linebackers in," said Imgrund. "Our goal this week is to keep the ball on our offensive side to keep (Vermilion) from putting a strain on our defense.
"On passing plays, I'll usually run a fake and then try to block out a couple of linebackers. If I make it through the line, I'll shoot out into the flat as a receiver.
"On plays close to the goal line, the plan is to send me out in the flat along the goal line where, hopefully, I'll catch a dump off. "
Yde agreed. "This week we have changed things a bit," he said. "We'll stay in the pocket but also run a few options and bootlegs. On fakes and boots, I'll set up faster and get rid of the ball faster. Vermilion has a really good pass rush defense so that should make it easier to throw against the linebackers because they'll be filling the holes faster."
Before enrolling at CLC, both players considered other options. Imgrund considered getting a job and working through the football season but relatives and friends convinced him otherwise. Yde considered going somewhere to play baseball exclusively and then thought better of it.
"I wasn't going to come here," Yde said. "I was going to go somewhere and play baseball. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I wanted to play more than just one sport. At a community college you can do that. You can play what you want and just have fun. I'm really glad I stayed here. It's a lot of fun."
Yde plans to play baseball and basketball at CLC. Imgrund, more than ready to do some hitting after a season of being hit, will join the Raiders' baseball team.
Both seem to be enjoying their community college athletic experience.
"I don't think there's nearly as much pressure here as there is in high school," said Yde. "In high school we had thousands of people in the stands and there were high expectations because Brainerd has always had a good team. You have to live up to those expectations.
"Here, it's like you come in and you do what you can. You do your best but it's not like if you do bad you're done. Here, they're not going to bench you for the rest of the day. It's a lot more fun."
Imgrund echoed those thoughts. "It's more fun and it's a lot more laid back," Imgrund said of his CLC experience. "With the coaches here, you get told what you did wrong but they take it as more fun than high school coaches. They still have their level of intensity, but they make it more relaxed."
The Brainerd duo is anxious to perform in front of their hometown fans. And, neither is feeling any pressure to play well in front of a friendly crowd.
"(CLC) didn't have a good season last year and that helps take the pressure off, said Yde. "It makes it a lot easier. We just want to win and do the best we can. If we get some fans out, I think the game Saturday will be fun."
"I find it more relaxing to play here at home," added Imgrund. "There's no three-hour bus ride before the game."
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