Beyond the Playbook: Raptors football rallies despite fielding only JV team this season

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The nine man Carlton-Wrenshall football team saw last fall cut short due to injury and illness, only finishing with a total of nine active players on their roster.

Based off the low numbers, the school districts decided this year to field only a JV squad. While welcoming in first year head coach Brent Pokornowski to help facilitate the rebuild.

“So we have three goals that we’re focusing on right now for the next 3 to 5 years. Number one is the safety and the health of the players.”

“Especially when we have players that are coming in that have never played the sport before because we’ve told them that it’s a fun sport, it’s a team building sport, and if they want to try it, we will help them learn the sport,” said head coach Pokornowski

The starting point for any team looking to rebuild, is of course recruitment.

“Football is a big sport all over and it’s big here in in Minnesota as well. So we want to recruit athletes, let them know that Wrenshall-Carlton, the Raptors do have football again and that they can come out and play,” continued Pokornowski.

While the coaching staff and team are viewing the situation in a positive light. For the two seniors still on the squad, it is a tough transition from playing under the Friday night lights, to tallying Tuesday touchdowns.

“I definitely miss Friday nights, there is just way more people. It’s just a way bigger deal than a regular old Tuesday night. The announcers and all that, I miss that,” said senior center Joseph Rubesh.

Still the seniors kept their chins up, becoming leaders, role models and teachers to this young squad.

“It’s very positive still. I mean, I rather play on Friday nights, but its nice helping the younger kids since there is going to be varsity next year. So we got to teach them some stuff, make sure that they’re ready, because I wasn’t ready when I started,” added senior running back Peyton Johnson.

For the Raptors, the Cherry Tigers are a model program, who just five years ago where in the same JV only position. Now this season they are 5-0 at varsity.

Varsity or not this team still, and always will, have the support of their community at every game.

“We had parents making signs, we had cheerleaders and we had people just being positive. After last year we had some negative stuff. So it’s nice to see all the positivity coming back and the support. You can’t ask for a better run program right now,” concluded assistant coach Jake Anderson.

Additionally the Silver Bay football team did not field a varsity team this season.