Storm ready to GRIND it out
Come off a rough season and expect a memorable slogan from head coach Bill Magnuson and the Sauk Rapids Storm.
Heck, even coming off great seasons like 2008, ’09 and ’10, for Magnuson and his staff, there were slogans suitable for printing on black, green and yellow t-shirts.
The one for 2014 is all about the GRIND.
That’s GRIND as in: Get Ready. It’s a New Day.
The Storm are coming off an 0-9 season that had its share of bad breaks.
They lost 35-34 to Fergus Falls, failing to convert on a two-point PAT after a late touchdown.
There was a 21-14 loss to St. Cloud Tech and a 16-15 defeat to Rocori, all winnable games in the Storm’s eyes.
The goal is to turn that round.
“It’s a clean season,” senior center Andrew Vannurden said.
“A totally new season,” senior quarterback Jeremy Thorson said.
In the process, they’d like to break at 13-game losing streak and a stretch where they’ve lost 17 of 18 games. The only break was a 20-12 win Sept. 29, 2012, at Rocori.
Sauk Rapids hasn’t won a home game since Sept. 9, 2011, a 25-22 win over Sartell.
That’s a lot of losing for a program that qualified for the state playoffs in 2010, went 9-2 in 2008 and hadn’t had a losing season in five years before the current skid.
To do it, they’re going to need the usual stuff.
“Typical of what any coach says, we’ve got to stay healthy,” Magnuson said.
“We’ve got some decent players. Depth is an issue.”
Leading return rusher Bobby Witoski had foot surgery after a summer football injury and is done for the season. Mitch Waldorf, a possible starter at wide receiver and cornerback, hurt his shoulder over the summer. He may return by midseason.
“It’s really going to be about discipline for us,” Magnuson said. “Discipline is the key to our success.
“We have to be better disciplined and be able to do what are job is. And, we have to have a few breaks along the way.”
The core indeed is strong.
Fullback/linebacker Barclay Bates is one of the better players in the Central Lakes Conference. Thorson replaces Tyler Bjork, who spearheaded one of the area’s top passing games. Bjork’s now playing baseball at St. Cloud State.
And, there’s some tough kids on the line.
“It’s definitely been competitive for some spots,” Vannurden said. “It keeps practice interesting.”
Vannurden and fellow lineman and captain Cole Boughton both are farm boys. Boughton works on a 400-500 acre family farm with 70 milking cows. Vannurden is on a 700-800 acre family farm with 100 cows.
“It’s good to have them,” Thorson said. “They know how to work.”
Magnuson really likes his main players. Most are part of a group of 18 seniors. He’s trying to get most of the rest of the squad to jump on board.
“It is a challenge for the general population,” Magnuson said. “For the core, the hard-cores, it is not.
“They want to be successful. The problem is that core is 8-10 people. With the others, with hard work,we can change some of those bad things from happening.”
If that comes together, the Storm think they can surprise people.
“We’re probably scheduled for half the homecomings this year,” Thorson said. “Let’s spoil some of those.”