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home : columns : columns May 31, 2016

7/31/2013 8:54:00 AM
Great things can happen when things look dire

Joel Alvstad
Sports Editor

The Windom Eagle football team, and new head coach Bobby Elwell, will be in for a challenge this fall.
Looking at last season, the numbers are the biggest concern, particularly in the upper two grades.
I hope that Elwell is able to convince kids who might not be planning to go out for football to play, and to round up kids who haven't played in the past to go out.
The reason is simple. The immediate results might not be great. I think everyone knows that and accepts that.
But the last time the Eagle football program faced a numbers concern, the team had a new, young coach who was able to convince kids to come out for football.
That year was 1994, when the Eagles had 14 players on the first day of practice. Through working the phones and convincing kids of the benefits of playing football, those numbers climbed up to 35 or 40 by season's end.
Chuck Miller coached the Eagles to a single victory in 1994, then turned the program over to the assistant who helped recruit enough players for the Eagles to field a team.
Two years later, in 1996, the hard work done by then-coach Bill Magnuson and a dedicated group of players paid off with a trip to the Prep Bowl, where the Eagles lost to Breck in the state championship game.
For any Eagle underclassman thinking that going out for football isn't worth the trouble of losing, go find any of those players who were sophomores on the 1994 team. There are still a few of them around - guys like Nate Vortherms and Jeremy Lund. Ask them if it was worth it, going out for football, knowing the deck was stacked against them as sophomores.
Ask them what it took for that team to go from one win to three wins to the Prep Bowl. And then ask them if it was worth it. I'd be willing to bet that, to a man, they would say it was.
Viking optimism
It's hard to not be upbeat about the upcoming season for the Minnesota Vikings.
The Vikings opened training camp in Mankato recently and are getting ready for their first preseason game.
Everyone knows what the Vikings return - the best player in the game right now. Adrian Peterson fell nine yards shy of breaking the NFL single-season rushing record last year, less than a year removed from a devastating ACL tear.
Peterson has made it clear his goals are no less lofty this year. In fact, he joked last year that he hopes to rush for 2,500 yards, which would obliterate Eric Dickerson's single-season record.
Peterson is as close to a sure thing as there is in the NFL. And he has a steady, stable offensive line in front of him.
The Vikings' defense has considerably upgraded in the past couple of years, and the youth injected into the defensive line should provide even more of a spark.
But the biggest question remains the Vikings' passing game.
Quarterback Christian Ponder is entering his third season and should be poised to take a considerable step forward.
The team lost Percy Harvin to the Seahawks, but Harvin didn't play the last half of the season a year ago anyway.
The receivers are still a bit of a question mark, but Greg Jennings will be productive if he is healthy, and the young players the team drafted in the past two years should give Ponder capable targets. The Vikings also have a Pro Bowl tight end in Kyle Rudolph.
The Vikings also play in one of the toughest divisions in football. Between the Vikings, Green Bay, Chicago and Detroit, all four teams have the talent to not only win the division, but make a run deep in the playoffs.
That's part of what makes the NFL great. In the NFL, at least 25 of the 32 teams in the league enter training camp with a realistic belief they can win the Super Bowl. You can't say that about Major League Baseball, the NBA or NHL.

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