Frazee football team building for the future
While Frazee has forfeited all eight regular season football games on paper, the overall mood of the team is up and the goal is to play as competitive a style of football as possible in a rebuilding situation that has not been uncommon around the area the past decade.
“The guys were just glad to have a decision,” head coach Jim Jacobson said. “With the rumors going around, it’s no secret that people had been talking about it and we heard from parents and kids all summer about what our options are.”
The Hornets’ staff and administration weighed options on playing a strict junior varsity schedule or finding a way to compete at the varsity level but the situation at hand is somewhere in the middle.
“We started out the season expecting to play Perham and as it became apparent that our numbers are not great and our kids are small, we made that decision to keep our kids safe,” said Jacobson.
Naturally, there were a few disappointed upperclassmen but the situation is understandable to current players in Frazee and teams across the region that have suffered a similar plight, like Pelican Rapids, Park Christian and Bagley. All three programs have bounced back.
“The kids were happy to have a decision made and since we’ve gone out and had some of our better practices of the year,” Jacobson said. “We’re still playing football and preparing for games on Fridays, business as usual, just doing it this way allows us to dictate those terms if we get out of hand or have injuries.”
The Frazee coaching staff has done a solid job of keeping team morale up and are encouraged by the young group who has stuck through the transition and their willingness to buy into the future of the program.
“What we’re excited for is our freshmen and sophomores,” said Jacobson. “Our juniors are going to have their turn next year and they’re ready to go. Those younger kids have been buying into a speed and strength program and working hard in the offseason. The exciting part of this season is everyone will be back for next season.”
The lone senior Tanner Tappe has not put a helmet on this season dealing with injuries, so the remainder of the roster is underclassmen.
“The chemistry is good and their attitude is good and they’re working hard,” Jacobson said.
This year’s modified schedule is a mismatch with each week a separate decision in discussion with opposing coaches. Frazee is giving teams the option to play the scheduled game, if not, Frazee’s staff wants to keep the junior varsity game on the schedule.
“It’s kind of a week by week, wait and see,” said Jacobson. “We want to get these freshman kids as many reps as possible in JV. That’s the toughest part right now, as coaches, the uncertainty and knowing what to prepare for. Our job, right now, is just keeping our kids focused on getting better and we’re going to play as best we can.”
Returning starters for Frazee include Joby Giefer at wide receiver, who also played defensively in the secondary and at linebacker. He could move up to a defensive end position.
Six-foot-three, 300-pounder Tony Malikowski anchors the line on both sides of the ball.
Gabe Drewes returns with some experience, but is nursing a couple nagging injuries to an ankle and his knee.
Cole Fleischer, a sophomore, has stepped in at quarterback after running junior varsity last year and getting a few varsity reps.
“He’s coming into his own and a good leader and doing some good things,” said Jacobson.
Frazee’s backfield has been ripe with experienced runners the past few years and is one place the Hornets need to rebuild.
“We’re running back by committee with not a lot of guys back at that position,” said Jacobson. “We have a lot of young guys we’re checking out and it’s really anybody’s game there.”
Working those younger kids, especially freshman, up to varsity game speed from junior high speed is a big piece and getting players to open up and play at full speed has been a tough transition.
“Our juniors and some of our sophomores have done a good job as being leaders,” Jacobson said.
This year’s senior class had small numbers, in terms of athletic participation, across the board in a number of activities, compounded by a number of football players who simply did not turn up at practice to start the year. Frazee currently has 33 players rostered from the freshman class on up. The Hornets fully expect to return to varsity action in 2018.