High school football: Willmar Cardinals get back to work

Practicing together for the first time in months, Willmar prepares for 2020 season

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Willmar's LaBlue Moo makes a leaping catch during offensive drills at the Cardinals' football camp Tuesday morning at Robbins Island Regional Park. Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

WILLMAR — With youth sports guidelines loosening up, Willmar football is getting back to work this week.

On Monday, the Cardinals’ football team opened its skills camp at Robbins Island Regional Park due to the facilities at Willmar Public Schools being closed until July 6. The camp, which is run through Willmar Parks & Rec, has the varsity practicing from 9-10:30 p.m., followed by the JV players.

“It’s definitely been weird and it’s different scenery, but it’s been good having everyone back together,” said senior lineman Aidan Donelan. “I haven’t seen some of the guys in a couple months with everyone being stuck on their own. We’re doing what we can now and I think we’re looking good so far.”

Senior wide receiver Jacob Rosendahl added, “It’s something to get used to but it’s awesome that we’re in one place. Everyone is doing pretty good on the drills that we’re doing and nobody’s really struggling with the new stuff.”


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Willmar offensive linemen take part in footwork drills during the Cardinals' football camp Tuesday morning at Robbins island Regional Park. Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

Working in pods of 10 on Monday and Tuesday, the team spent the first 30 minutes on offensive drills, followed by a 15-minute period spent disinfecting pads, then concluding with 30 minutes of defensive drills. The focus has been on skills and technique while keeping players a proper distance from each other.

“Kids are kids; they’ll gather. We’re doing what we can to emphasize and follow the new guidelines,” said head football coach Jon Konold. “We want to keep everybody safe. We need to do it the right way or else we can’t do it.”

The early results have been promising to Konold, who said that more than 90 players are taking part in the camps.

“The (returning) kids have had a year of growth and they know what they’re doing and they’re doing it themselves,” Konold said. “They know where to be. They know the finer points so we just have to fine-tune things whereas it was like herding cats last year.”

Prior to this week, the Cardinals have had the chance to hit the weight room, working out at Bar Path CrossFit in Willmar. Konold said the plan will be continuing workouts at Bar Path, even when school facilities open up in July.

“They have everything we need … we’re able to do our core lifts,” Konold said. “They’ve been so accommodating. Their workouts are similar to ours, just with their own spin on it.”


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From left, Willmar quarterbacks Jacob Streed, Simon Radermacher and Alex Schramm roll out during passing drills Tuesday morning during the Cardinals' football camp at Robbins Island Regional Park. Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

In an offseason where self-motivation was a must, the added accountability of being back together has helped in this new brand of offseason.

“A group of us would stay in contact and a few of us were lucky enough to get home gyms,” Rosendahl said. “Some of us would get together and use that home gym-type of thing. We tried to keep each other accountable for doing conditioning workouts and getting home workouts in. We also had a Hudl meeting with Coach a while back and he gave us advice on things we can do.”

The official start of the fall sports season is set for Monday, Aug. 17. Willmar’s first game is scheduled for Friday, Sept. 4 at Hodapp Field against Detroit Lakes.

“The team was young last year and I’ve definitely noticed upperclassmen having a better grasp on things,” Donelan said. “Most people got out at the beginning of the summer and started doing stuff and not just being a couch potato at the house. Hopefully this year, being an older team, we’ll be more mentally sound.”

Willmar football schedule

Sept. 4 vs. Detroit Lakes
Sept. 11 at Delano
Sept. 18 v s. Big Lake
Sept. 25 at Alexandria
Oct. 2 vs. Rocori (homecoming)
Oct. 9 vs. St. Cloud Apollo
Oct. 14 at Becker
Oct. 20 at Hutchinson


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Willmar assistant football coaches Andy Tupa (left) and Ken Heitzman wipe down the football pads with disinfectant during a break in the Cardinals' football camp Tuesday morning at Robbins Island Regional Park. Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

Joe Brown is a sports reporter for the West Central Tribune.

He can be reached via email at: or his office number: 320-214-4332.
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