Huskers looking to raise the bar after CMC title in 2013

Huskers looking to raise the bar after CMC title in 2013

Perhaps the Holdingford football team should have shirts made up for their theme this season.

“Raise the bar, that’s the motto,” senior Matt Messman said.

The bar has been set pretty high during the first two seasons that Luke Mitchell has been the Huskers’ head coach.

Holdingford is 14-0 in Central Minnesota Conference games, 21-3 overall and made two straight Class 2A state quarterfinals appearances. The Huskers have lost back-to-back quarterfinals games by a combined total of 10 points, keeping them from reaching the semifinals, which have been played in the Metrodome.

“It’s heart-wrenching, knowing that you were that close to being in the Dome,” Messman said. “The goals are the same this year as last year ... Anything less would kind of be a disappointment.” v“We always went into games thinking that we were going to win because we had a pretty good team,” said senior Nathan Brinker, who is beginning his fourth varsity season. “That confidence boost really carries over.”

Linebackers Brinker (75 tackles, 14 for loss, 5 sacks, 3 blocked kicks), Messman (73 tackles, 4 1/2 for loss) and senior Jake Knettel (46 tackles, 3 1/2 for loss, 2 1/2 sacks) are the three returning starters on defense and were the team’s top three tacklers last season.

“Our linebacker core is going to be just as good as last year,” Messman said.

Holdingford held opponents to an average of 9.9 points and 208 1/2 yards of total offense last season. The Huskers averaged more than six tackles for loss and more than two sacks per game.

“If we can play great defense and play well on special teams, the other stuff is going to take care of itself,” Mitchell said. “If we can win that battle of field position, I think that’s so hard to play on a short field.”

Offensively, the Huskers have three starters back, but all three are getting recruiting looks from NCAA Division II and III programs. Senior right tackle Jake Langner, Brinker (right guard) and Messman are the returners. Messman is moving from fullback to tailback this season.

Holdingford has a sizable hole to fill at quarterback, a position that Mitch Messman (Matt’s brother) started at for four years. He was the Times Area Player of the Year after having 2,790 total offensive yards with 23 TD passes and 17 rushing TDs.

“Obviously, it’s going to be different,” Matt Messman said of his brother moving on to play at St. John’s “But our new quarterback, Austin (Gerads), was behind Mitch for three years and he’s ready to play.

“He’s going to do great this year. I think he’s just going to be himself and surprise people.”