We see that you have javascript disabled. Please enable javascript and refresh the page to continue reading local news. If you feel you have received this message in error, please contact the customer support team at 1-833-248-7801.



Football: Willmar Cardinals break camp

Willmar wraps up summer practice; open season Sept. 2 against Apollo

072022.S.WCT.Willmar FB Matthew Strey.JPG
Willmar lineman Matthew Strey gets in front of assistant coach Michael Heitzman during a break in football practice on Monday, July 18, 2022 at Willmar High School.
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune
We are part of The Trust Project.

WILLMAR — Through the dog days of summer, the Willmar football team is beginning to gear up for the 2022 season.

The Cardinals are wrapping up the third and final week of summer camps as a tune-up before fall practice begins on Aug. 15. They had nine practices over the three-week span.

“We’ve had 86 kids signed up and about 75-to-80 have been here each day,” said Willmar head coach Jon Konold. He enters his 13th season at the helm for the Cardinals. “We’re happy with that number; there’s always been about 85-to-95 kids at camp and we’re in that range.”

The football team is getting to utilize the turf fields between the high school and the Willmar Civic Center for the first time. In the 90-degree heat Monday, players ran through drills in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts.

“Right now, it’s probably over 100 degrees (on the field) and you can really feel it in your legs,” Konold said. “The turf is fantastic and the field conditions are awesome. There’s a lot of green space to use.”


072022.S.WCT.Willmar FB Cullen Gregory.JPG
Willmar quarterback Cullen Gregory throws to teammate Ramero Trevino in the flat during football practice on Monday, July 18, 2022 at Willmar High School.
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

Senior Jacob Streed added, “You’re going to have some hot games in the fall, so you get prepared for the heat. … (The turf’s) nice; it’s so nice. There’s a lot of room with both fields and we can occupy both of ‘em. We can’t be grateful enough.”

The Cardinals are coming off a 6-3 season in 2021, which included a 35-28 loss to Faribault in the Section 2AAAA semifinals. Willmar graduated 16 seniors from last year’s team.

Streed, along with Sam Raitz and Marlon Fernandez Munoz were named captains for the upcoming season.

Filling into that leadership role for Streed means keeping ears open and practicing patience.

Related Stories:
Cardinals sophomore takes first place at Willmar Invitational in 15:56.6; Willmar girls fourth in stacked field
The public hearings on Monday's Willmar City Council agenda are regarding special assessments for unpaid snow and ice removal and unpaid weed and grass mowing. The tabled action items the council is expected to consider are the rezoning and the creation of a tax increment financing district for the Unique Opportunities apartment complex project on Lakeland Drive Northeast.
Starting Oct. 5, Minnesota Highway 9 will be closed on the west side of Highway 23. Highway 9 travelers will be detoured to Kandiyohi County Road 40 for up to two days. Work is expected to end Oct. 10.

“You got to pay attention to everything; every play and everything you got to know in case some of the younger kids come up and ask you questions,” he said. “You have to be able to answer that and not get mad at ‘em and just talk through it.”

An encouraging sign for Konold and the coaches has been the team’s self-motivation.

“They police each other and motivate each other,” Konold said. “They’re really a fun group to be around. As a coach, if you don’t have to worry about those types of things and can just worry about doing the right stuff (on the field) and aligning properly, it makes it a lot easier.”

Along with the morning practices over the last three weeks, the Cardinals are getting work in with other teams. Last week, Willmar had a joint practice with Buffalo. By the end of this week, they’ll also have joint practices with St. Cloud Tech and Marshall.


Against Buffalo, Streed said, “Our line did an amazing job, especially with our run game. Buffalo is good competition. We learned a lot. We got to learn a lot but there’s a good foundation there.”

Following the Buffalo practice, Konold saw an immediate improvement after breaking up the monotony of inter-squad practices.

“It was a night-and-day difference between Wednesday and Thursday,” Konold said. “Wednesday night (against Buffalo), a lot of our guys had some deer-in-the-headlight looks. The game was moving fast; they were moving around a little bit and we were struggling with that. Thursday, it seemed like it slowed down a lot. Physically, we were better on Thursday.

072022.S.WCT.Willmar FB Jon Konold.JPG
Willmar head football coach Jon Konold addresses his players during offensive drills at football practice on Monday, July 18, 2022 at Willmar High School
Joe Brown / West Central Tribune

“That was nice to get that full-speed experience out of the way. Now, they’re working on their technique and assignments and things.”

Willmar opens the 2022 season on Friday, Sept. 2 at Hodapp Field against St. Cloud Apollo.

“We’re not officially (getting ready for Apollo),” Streed said. “But there’s some guys who got it circled on the calendar.”

Willmar football schedule

(Home games in BOLD)

Sept. 2 vs. St. Cloud Apollo


Sept. 9 vs. Hutchinson

Sept. 16 at Big Lake

Sept. 23 at Sartell

Sept. 30 vs. Delano

Oct. 7 vs. Rocori

Oct. 14 at Chisago Lakes

Oct. 19 at Becker

More by Joe Brown:
No. 8 Renville County West beats No. 5 Hills-Beaver Creek, which beat RCW last year in the state playoffs
Cardinals score with 4:40 to play, then gets a big pick to win its homecoming game, 24-21
Three singles players, three doubles teams place 1st for Dragons.

What to read next
Bluejays' record now at 4-7-1
New London-Spicer earns 60-29 win over Litchfield in Fallen Heroes game.
Willmar eighth-grader Ellery DeBoer leads all Class AAA setters with 390 set assists.
Here are the state polls release for this week.