Dutchmen enjoy new field this season
The Melrose football team was on the road for every game last season.
The Dutchmen played their home games at Clemens Stadium at St. John’s while their football field underwent extensive renovations. It now has brand new sod in place.
Despite being away from home, Melrose still had a strong season, going 6-4 overall and finishing 5-3 in the West Central Conference.
“We’re just happy we don’t have to take a bus to every game,” Dutchmen senior fullback/linebacker Anthony Welle said.
Melrose co-head coaches Chuck Noll and Vaughn Glasener are excited about the new playing surface. Some of the final touches were being put on the outside of the stadium during the team’s first week of practice.
“The older I get, the more I hate bus rides,” Noll said with a laugh. “I even hated the ones down to St. John’s. It was nice playing there, but our facilities are second-to-none here. The grass is beautiful and everything is so new. It’s nice to be home.”
The Dutchmen return 5-foot-10, 200-pound junior Zack Pierskalla at running back. He ran for 993 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. Noll, who runs the offense, wants to have a more balanced attack this season, but knows Pierskalla is the team’s main threat.
“We want to have three to four guys who can run the ball,” Noll said. “We’ve got a young offensive line with all juniors. We’ll be a work in progress. Zack’s a hockey player by trade. He’ll run you over. That’s all right with us.”
Senior Matthew Beste returns at quarterback. He threw for 922 yards and seven TDs last season, but threw 11 interceptions. His main target will be 6-3, 190-pound wide receiver Blake Gerads, who had 21 catches for 340 yards and four TDs last fall.
Melrose’s biggest loss from last season might be the 6-foot-6, 300-pound Dallas Rieland along the offensive and defensive lines. Rieland. a state all-star, is playing at Division III Concordia-Moorhead. Replacing him won’t be easy.
“His presence certainly helped,” Glasener said. “He would take up a lot of double teams and that helped our linebackers.”
Melrose returns Gerads and Colton Meyer (6-2, 210) along the defensive line, Pierskalla and Welle at linebacker and Isaac Herkenhoff and Beste in the secondary.
“Colton and Blake have played a lot of snaps for us,” Glasener said. “Welle, Gerads, Herkenhoff and Beste are all three-year starters for us and that’s invaluable. That gives us a lot of hope.
“If our front line can hang in there, I think we have some potential.”