PREVIEW: Forest Lake football

New district opponents await football squad

Most years, the biggest change for any team is the departure of seniors and the arrival of underclassmen to take their spots in the lineup.

In 2017, Forest Lake football faces a bigger change. A little over a year ago, Forest Lake applied for and were granted the right to move into a new district, a change which goes into effect this season. With the switch, the Rangers will face an entirely new slate of opponents in 2017, with no holdovers from last season remaining on the schedule.

The Rangers are now members of the Blue subdistrict of the Suburban district alongside Hopkins, Coon Rapids and Robbinsdale Armstrong. The Rangers will host Coon Rapids in their home opener Sept. 8 and Armstrong on Sept. 22. They will play Hopkins away on Oct. 13.

The Rangers’ remaining opponents are pulled from the membership of the other Suburban subdistricts. The Rangers will begin the season with a trip to Park of Cottage Grove on Aug. 31, with further road contests against Irondale (Sept. 15) and Mahtomedi (Oct. 6). The other two home games will come against North St. Paul (Sept. 29) and Spring Lake Park (Oct. 18).

“We played Park a few years ago, and we saw them in a scrimmage last year, so we kind of have an idea of what they do,” head coach Jeff Wilson said. “It is nice going into a new district, and the kids are excited about the fact that they get to play against teams we haven’t seen for a number of years.”

Senior captain Connor Hale will lead the offense as the starting quarterback. Senior running back Sam Jackomino will see plenty of touches as well.

“Connor will be a leader for us, and Sam is a quiet leader, he always performs,” Wilson said.

Tight end Joey Jankowski and receiver Roman Notch will be threats in the passing game.

“Both those guys can do a great job catching the ball and do a nice job blocking on the edge,” Wilson said.

The offensive line will be a youthful unit, but Wilson liked what he saw from them in scrimmages against Chisago Lakes, Princeton and Henry Sibley at Chisago Lakes High School on Aug. 26.

“Those kids come off the ball and go hard, and they showed a different level [in the scrimmages] than what we’ve seen in practice,” Wilson said. “They got after it and did a really nice job.”

Senior defensive end and captain Max Carlson brings experience to the defensive line, while junior Grant Parrish, better known as a star on the wrestling team, will assert his will on the line as well.

“Grant has done a great job for us as a first-year guy,” Wilson said.

Seniors Justin Rivard and George Rendl will lead the linebackers. Junior Mason Vanvleet steps up to the varsity squad and should also be a force behind the line.

“I expect those guys will make a lot of tackles for us,” Wilson said.

Hale (defensive back), Jankowski (defensive end), Jackomino (defensive back) and Notch (linebacker) will be among the players who appear on both offense and defense.

“We’ve got great kids, and they’re coming together,” Wilson said. “They play hard and they love the game. I have high expectations for them.”

In addition to being the head coach, Wilson coordinates the offense. Nick Ward is the defensive coordinator. The position coaches are Joe Jurasin (quarterbacks), Chris Vogel (running backs), Rich Graves (receivers), Pete Bothun (offensive line), Larry Matzdorf (defensive line), Garrett Jantsch (linebackers) and John Buck (defensive backs).