If the Central Lakes College Raiders football team has learned anything this year, it's learned flexibility and patience. Week in and week out the team has had to overcome injuries to key players while reshuffling the lineup to fill the vacated positions.
Nick Froehling and Phillip Rasset, both first-year players from Maple Lake, MN., will be right in the thick of this week Raiders' reshuffled offensive and defensive schemes.
Froehling has played defensive end for the Raiders but this week, against Minnesota West, he will also be asked to fill in at tight end. He understands what the team must do to compensate for the recurring injuries.
"You just have to overlook the injuries, fill in and keep playing," said Froehling who is justifiably proud how the Raider defense has played this season.
"Defensively, no one has been able to run in the middle against us and we've pretty much contained outside so there's no where really for them to go. We've played with every team except maybe Rochester. That says a lot about the kind of team and group of people that we have. There is definitely talent on the team."
Froehling plans to return to Central Lakes College next year. He has plans to play baseball and continue with football next year. He's convinced his choice to attend CLC was, and remains, the right one.
"Central Lakes is close by Maple Lake and it's a nice school. Coming here gave me a chance to stay close to home, play football and go to a good school all in one."
Rasset also plans to return to the Raiders' football team next season. He talked about the differences between playing ball at the college and high school levels.
"It's a lot more hard hitting here," said Rasset, "and everything happens a lot faster." The games are a lot longer, too. But the season seemed to go by pretty fast."
Rasset plays fullback and halfback for the Raiders, who will be using a wishbone offense this week against Minnesota West.
"I'm more of a blocking back," said Rasset. "At least that's what I've pretty much been doing all year. Running the wishbone is going to be different, that's for sure. We're just going to try to control the ball and just pound it."
Academically, Rasset said he is concentrating on the OPRV class, the snowmobile, boat and motor and small engine clinic
Froehling, Rasset and their Raider team mates will be in for a challenging conclusion to their season. Minnesota West is looking to finish the regular season on a strong note before heading into post-season play.
"Minnesota West is a very good team," said Raider head coach Mike Degen. "They have the second best record in the conference at 6-2. They run the ball really well, they hand onto the ball and they play really good defense. This will be a really tough game but we're playing for a chance to finish in third place in the conference so this will be a big game for us."
"Injury wise," continued Degen, "(quarterback) Matt Yde and (running back) Scott Imgrund are both out. We're pretty sure it's an ACL injury for Yde. Imgrund has a separated shoulder.
With the unavailability of Yde, the team will be left with no natural fill-in at quarterback. To accommodate the team's lack of a passing game, Degen has introduced a new offense.
"We're going to run the wishbone this week," said a smiling Degen. "Malcolm Harmon will be playing quarterback. We don't have a person who can pass so we'll be running out of the wishbone.
"The injuries will also mean that some guys get to play both ways. Froehling will come over and play a little end for us and we'll use defensive back Trevor Gross at halfback a little.
Even though the Raiders are out of the post-season picture, look for them to play Minnesota West tough this week. CLC has taken a look inside themselves and found there's still plenty of reasons to play hard
"We'll be playing for a bunch of pride out there," said Degen, "and having fun. This game will be the last one in some of our players' careers. It'll be the last game they ever play. So we're going out there to do whatever we can to get the job done and finish the season with a win."
Kick off time Saturday is 3:30 p.m. for the Raiders who will be trying to tack on final win onto their 2-6 record.
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