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Willmar Notebook: Coach gets first look at team at camp

Nothing better than a head start when a new coach comes to town.

Jon Konold got a look at his 2009 roster -- and they at him -- during a four-day morning camp at the senior high school fields.

The former offensive coordinator at Mankato West has installed what will be a new offense for the Cardinals.

"It's quite different," said sophomore pass catcher and defensive back Austen Hilding. "It's more passing with the quarterback on the move. There's four or five wide receivers."

Educated in Minneota, Moorhead (Concordia) and in football-crazy Dallas, Texas, Konold's offense forces the defense to think pass. That makes the running game -- given the right personnel -- somewhat of a sneak attack.

In last November's Prep Bowl AAAA championship game, Scarlet running back Paul Berndt tied a Prep Bowl record with four rushing touchdowns.

Each morning 50 to 55 10th, 11th and 12th graders were drilled in full pads. Ninety minutes were devoted to offense and 90 minutes to defense, around a 30 minute pause.

Konold installed the basics of the spread offense and Bob Bezdicek, returning defensive coordinator, got a jump on the Aug. 17 practice opener, too.

"We got a lot done," said Konold, who will be moving his family to town this week. "When the coaches sat around and visited afterwards, we were all thankful we had this opportunity because it would have been so much to do when practice starts. We stressed fundamentals and specific position work."

Under MSHSL rules, coaches may work with their varsity players for a limited amount of time in the summer, but not between Aug. 1 and the start of practice.

Hilding, who is beginning his sixth year of organized tackle football, said some of his classmates missed the camp due to baseball or other commitments. He described the contact as "light", basically scout-team stuff with some form-tackling drills.

Senior Mark Dunham returns at quarterback with starting experience. Also taking snaps were juniors Jeremy Schendel, Gabe Amon and Jake Rambow, sophomore Matt Heitzman and freshman Alex Grove.

Konold on seeing Cardinals for first time: "We've got some kids that can run around and have some decent size on both offense and defense. We just want to get going."

He expects from 60-65 players in the top three grades and near 90-100 when freshmen report.

Konold said at Mankato 30-35 Scarlets would go to a summer team camp, like North Dakota State, where they'd scrimmage other schools.

"This worked out great, because it was cost-effective and the coaches and the kids really enjoyed it."

On the fly

Current and former Cardinal athletes tuned up for the Green Lake Triathlon by competing at the Lake Minnewaska Sprint Tri on Saturday -- a 500-yard swim, 10.2 mile bike and 2.5 mile run. Team Blitzkrieg was made up of 2007 graduate Brandt Haglund (bike) and current seniors Ross Swartz (swim) and Matt Weitzel (run).

Aces are wild at Eagle Creek. Eight this summer -- four on No. 6, three on 16 and one on two. DeAlton Rime, who aced the sixth on Tuesday, also aced old No. 7 in 1974 and No. 16 in 2005. Rime said this was the biggest surprise because "Physically, with two new hips and a bad back, I'm not the (player) I used to be. It just proves that you've got to be lucky." He was golfing with two other denizens of the links, Don Magnuson and Dan Ridler.

Taylor Filipek has had quite a summer playing basketball for the Minnesota Comets, who had a 25-9 record against national competition. A lot of colleges have shown interest in the 6-foot-5 Willmar senior and five have offered scholarships, so far. His teammates on the Comets included Shaun Condon of MACCRAY and Erik Tengwall of New London-Spicer.

Rand Middleton
Tribune photographer/videographer. Began working in radio and at weekly newspaper in Munising, Michigan, in 1972. Started parttime at West Central Daily Tribune Sept. 1974. Fulltime news/sports beginning Feb. 1979. Married to Tribune news clerk Donna (Miller) Middleton, formerly of Kerkhoven. 2 grown children. 
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