Roadside signs advertising executive lots and sweet corn dot the rolling hills on County Road 50 between Corcoran and Greenfield.
Further west, at the edge of Hennepin County, is Rockford Area High School and its own blend of big-city familiarity and country sensibility.
A $27 million bond passed in 2012 provided football players a new turf field and a multifunctional strength and conditioning facility known as the Rocket Power Center.
Rockford players enjoy the trappings of a suburban school, but players such as sophomore Hunter Petron revel in a rural upbringing. Petron woke before sunrise all summer to labor on a neighbor’s farm. He drove a tractor and fed cows through two-a-day football practices.
“We’re out baling hay, helping move cattle and lifting buckets of grain,” Petron said. “The city guys always go to the weight room.”
Senior Kado Cano is a city guy, commuting more than 20 miles from north Minneapolis. He followed an older sister to Rockford and found connection where facility upgrades mean “there’s no excuse not to get better,” he said.
Both take pride in game nights at Rocket Stadium, perched atop a hill overlooking the Crow River valley.
The school serves about 450 students in a district abutting the Wayzata School District, home of the powerhouse Trojans program that dresses more than 100 varsity football players.
Senior Jake Clouse believes the numbers surplus at Wayzata someday could benefit the Rockets, who haven’t posted a winning season since 2007.
“I expect a lot of kids who don’t get as much playing time at the bigger schools like Wayzata to come down here because we do have some of the nicer facilities around,” Clouse said.
David La Vaque