HAVRE — It’s back to the grindstone for the MSU-Northern football team, back to the drills and back to the competitive gridiron mindset.
“Just like any spring football, it’s been a couple months since we’ve been out here. We’ve been in the middle of winter conditioning. We had a great nine weeks of winter conditioning,” said Lights head coach Andrew Rolin. “We came out, first day is always a little rusty, guys are knocking off the rust, but the effort was there. I think (Wednesday) we took a huge step forward, though, as a team. It was really competitive.”
“On defense, we started off a little rusty. We have some new guys coming in, learning everything from scratch. I’m lucky enough to have a year under my belt with this coaching staff, but we looked good today,” said Lights junior linebacker Jaren Maki. “First two days we were a little slow and a little tentative, but (Wednesday) we really picked it up. We were able to hit and go for a little live action. It was really nice, we were able to just find our groove and go together.”
As Rolin begins his second year as the Lights’ head man, things feel more familiar, more comfortable, and for him, it’s starting to show from his team.
“At this point last year, we were still recruiting, we were scrambling and everything was new. I think everybody’s kind of settled into where we are offensively and defensively. There’s no new schemes. We know what we’re doing and our guys are playing fast because of it,” said Rolin. “They know what we expect, they understand our standards. It’s fun to see. We’re playing a lot faster and we’re a lot more comfortable in the system from a coaching standpoint but also from our players, as well.”
Rolin’s fiery nature spreads to his coaching staff, and that pumps up the players, which cranks up the competition during practice.
“I think the biggest thing is that everybody is so young. All the guys on this staff have college football experience, so it just gets everybody amped because they all know what they’re talking about,” said Lights sophomore quarterback Brendan Medina. “They know how to get us hyped and juiced up for practice every day. It all helps out.”
But this Northern team knows it still has a long way to go to try and produce a successful fall season, a feat the Lights haven’t known for a while. The young team from last season now has another year of experience to build off going forward and has nowhere to go but up.
“We were very young last year, we started a bunch of freshmen and a bunch of sophomores,” Maki said. “Just getting more physical and getting in your playbook every day — that’s a big key, being mentally strong just as physically strong. We’ve just got to keep grinding every day. That’s all you need to do, is keep grinding.”