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Now in his third season, St. Paul Humboldt football coach Arnulfo Flores is starting to see some positive returns on the hard work he and his staff have put in.
Last Thursday (Sept. 6,) the Hawks defeated St. Paul Como Park 34-19, their first victory over another St. Paul City Conference team since 2010.
“It feels good,” said Flores. “To get a win like that early in the year, against a team like Como Park that dominated us last year, that’s big. Morale’s way up.”
Flores does not teach in the school, but he said there was a buzz around the team after the victory.
“Walking around the hallways, talking to administrators, you could feel the vibe,” he said. “A lot of people mentioned how happy they were that we won.”
In Flores’ first season, 2016, Humboldt didn’t field a varsity football team due to low participation numbers. They had one win in 2017, a late-season victory over Minneapolis Roosevelt, but Flores considers the victory over Como Park much more significant.
“Como Park is no slouch. They lost a lot to graduation, but they’re still a good team,” he said. “It’s a big confidence booster.”
The key to the victory was the play of D.J. King. The 6-foot-2 senior quarterback passed for 157 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 107 yards and another score.
“Our team goes off of him,” Flores said. “When his motor is high, our team is high.”
Flores said the biggest area of improvement for the athletic King are his leadership skills. “He’s always been a leader. At first, it was mostly by showing what he could do. This year, he’s more of a leader with his voice.”
Of course, there is a lot of football yet to be played. Things may be looking up, but the numbers are far from where he’d like them. Right now, Humboldt suits up 22 players on its varsity.
“It’s just one win,” he said. “But it’s been eight years since we beat a St. Paul City school at all. We’re all competing to grab kids from all over the city. Now, maybe a few will migrate over to Humboldt.”