It didn’t matter that wingback Tommy Arcand was in street clothes with 22 staples in his head, the result of a run-in with a drunk driver last month. Or that Jacques Perra, the stellar quarterback who was nearly everyone’s player of the year in 2013 (including the Star Tribune), had graduated, leaving an opening behind center.
Heck, even the rain was welcome.
At Roseville, as it was all across Minnesota on Monday, the first official day of football practice was all about hope. Time to put the offseason preparation to work, to turn expectations into reality.
“I love this,” said Roseville wide receiver Jesper Horsted, whose height (6-4), hands and athleticism make him one of the metro’s premier pass-catchers. “Usually, it doesn’t rain during two-a-day [practices]. I like this a lot better than the 90-degree heat we normally get.”
Hope runs strong at Roseville this year, and with good reason. The Raiders are fresh off the most successful season in team history, having reached the Class 6A semifinals before falling a touchdown short in a loss to Rosemount. The Raiders’ run had the entire community buzzing.
“I’d go to a gas station and people would be asking about the football team,” said assistant coach Andrew Fraser, a 2005 Roseville grad. “That hadn’t happened before.”
Chris Simdorn, Roseville’s head coach, knows how difficult it will be to repeat 2013’s incredible run, but he thinks the carryover will be meaningful.
“We have high expectations every year, but the biggest thing is the confidence of those guys out there,” he said, gesturing toward 100 or so soggy players going through drills. “They’ve seen what they are capable of.”
Finding a capable replacement for Perra will be paramount. Senior Jake McKenzie and junior Henry Bensen are the front-runners. It’s a testament to 2013 that more than just football junkies are interested in how that battle turns out.
“There are a lot more kids interested this year,” said senior Mackenzie Madison, a goalie on the girls’ soccer team. “We know they graduated a lot of players, but we want to see if they can do it again.”