Team Traditions: Cloquet squads that dine together, win together

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Breakfast is considered the most important meal of the day by many, but for Cloquet football it’s dinner as they serve up team bonding.

Every Thursday for 20 years the Cloquet Lumberjacks have gathered around tables sharing their last supper together before a Friday night throw down.

"We had assistant coach that came on board, he’s actually now our assistant principal to the high school Tim Prosen, and he brought the idea of having a team dinner," assistant coach Jeff Ojanen said. "He brought it from another team that he coached for and ever since it’s just stuck."

Spaghetti, salad and breadsticks is a favorite but sometimes the perfect play is burgers and chips.

"It’s really just a good time to have some team bonding, make sure we’re all eating right," senior receiver Tyler Leppi said. "Make sure that everyone’s eating healthy, [it’s] just fun time to all eat together and have a meal before our game."

The meal provides a great getaway from the gridiron grind, plus the Lumberjacks also take that time to recognize their teammates by rewarding them with badges of honor.

"We do helmet stickers for stats through the game, like tackles for loss or for play of the game, that kind of stuff," Ojanen explained. "We also do stickers for some of the underclassmen that have worked hard in practice that week that we recognize, and we also do our fourth captain for the next week’s game."

"They’re pretty important," Leppi said about the helmet stickers. "They mean a lot to us and having them, just to be able to show our pride in making good plays."

Junior tackle Lance Konietzko added, "it’s just an honor to be a part of our system. It’s great being with the boys and just having a great time and then building the friendships that come along with the sport."

Cloquet downed Rock Ridge 27-14 Friday to complete a perfect regular season road record.