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East Grand Forks football looking to leadership after shortened 2020 season

The Green Wave, who went 2-4 last year, have a good number of players coming back that are in a position to lead the group back to the section tournament after the wash of the year.

After a shortened season last year, East Grand Forks is looking at its leadership group to bring them out of the COVID year.

The Green Wave, who went 2-4 last year, have a good number of players coming back who are in a position to lead the group back to the section tournament.

“We returned quite a few players which is nice. We’ve had really good leadership this whole camp, which is great,” East Grand Forks head coach Ryan Kasowski said. “We’ve got a lot of guys that are bought into the programs right now. They’re ready to have a great season and I think they’re excited and hopefully play a normal season.”

Among the returners are Tanner Campos, Carter Vasek, Spencer Egeland, Joey Votava and Justin Overgaard, who are just some of the senior class members who have taken the reigns this offseason.

Campos will be under center and tasked with spreading the ball to the likes of Votava and Vasek. All three have the capabilities of getting involved in the run game as well. What sticks out for Kasowski is the leadership this summer.

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“That group has really stepped up. We’ve had this entire offseason and the entire pre-fall for those guys to really take the team under their wing. They really want to make sure that they lead this team and that they lead by example, on the field and off the field. I couldn’t be happier with that group. They’ve stepped up to the plate and just been awesome,” he said.

Their first test against Pequot Lakes is the start of what hopes to be a new normal for Minnesota football, not just East Grand Forks. East Grand Forks hosts Pequot Lake on Thursday night.

“It has felt like a normal pre-fall. It’s nice to get back to a normal schedule here and have a normal routine,” said Kasowski. ”Hopefully, we won’t have to worry about all the distractions we had to last year.”

Polk County West ready to go

Polk County West is putting a heavy emphasis on leadership, as well, to right the ship after an unknown year and also to help get younger players ready when they are inevitably called on.

“Depth was a big thing for us this year. We wanted to get a lot of reps with our younger guys this summer. We want to be able to change guys out seamlessly when things do happen,” Thunder head coach Darrin Byklum said.

Atop the senior class on the field will be Sam Gapp, who is poised to have a big year after his Co-Offensive Player of the Year performance. Gapp produced six touchdowns on 471 yards in the short amount of time the 2020 season lasted.

Younger returners that are looking to make an impact are the Rohrich twins, Cullen and Dawson.

“Those are two guys that represent that group that have gotten a significant amount of playing time before and have made an impact,” said Byklum.

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Before those younger players begin their own era of Thunder football, the leadership group this year is looking to make a lasting impact in their own right.

“Leadership is a big thing,” Byklum said. “We need to show those younger guys that we do see potential in this year and that it takes a lot of hard work to get to where they’ve been.”

East Grand Forks Senior High

Coach: Ryan Kasowski

Last season's finish: 2-4 overall

Key returners: Sr. Tanner Campos, sr. Carter Vasek, sr. Spencer Egeland, sr. Joey Votava, sr. Justin Overgaard.

Coach Kasowski says: “We’ve got a lot of guys that are bought into the programs right now. They’re ready to have a great season and I think they’re excited and hopefully play a normal season.”

Polk County West

Coach: Darrin Byklum

Last season's finish: 3-1 overall

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Key returners: Sr. Sam Gapp, sr. Caden Reimer, sr. Carter Helgeson, jr. Landen Denney, so. Cullen Rohrich, so. Dawson Rohrich

Coach Byklum says: “We can’t live on the history of the program. We need to make our own. We need to make our own future.”

08XX21 S GFH EGFFB LukeBlazek SamSchumacher01.jpg
Green Wave quarterback Sam Schumacher (17) dives over linebacker Luke Blazek (36) into the end zone during morning football practice at East Grand Forks Senior High School on Tuesday, August 24, 2021. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

Related Topics: FOOTBALL
Digital Content Producer and Sports Reporter at the Grand Forks Herald since December of 2020. Maxwell can be contacted at mmarko@gfherald.com.
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