With the weather hitting the 60s, spring ball is back in action. The Concordia football team is out on the practice field once again, getting their allotted spring practices in before summer break.
Generally, the football team is allotted seven non-padded practices as a team of the MIAC. However, this year is a little different for the Cobbers. Every three years they are allowed one international game, and with that game comes ten extra full-pads practices.
The men will leave early on May 7 for their nine-hour bus ride to Regina, Saskatchewan in Canada, where they will receive the opportunity to practice and scrimmage the local semi-pro team, the Regina Roughriders.
Scrimmaging the Regina Roughriders will provide an unique experience for the Cobber football team. In Canada, football teams play with 12 players on the field whereas the Cobbers play with 11. Head Coach Terry Horan explained how this will be an unique challenge for both teams.
“We had to make some adjustments for each team. So, when we are on offense, both teams will have 11 players on the field and when we’re on defense, both teams will have 12 players on the field,” Horan said. “It’s a fun opportunity for our players to experience a different type of game.”
Jake Erholtz, returning junior defensive back, believes the upcoming trip will be a learning experience.
“Our trip up to Canada is going to be a great experience for developing our team as a whole and learning a new defense will challenge our team to grow in their understanding of the game,” Erholtz said.
The trip is an exciting opportunity for the Cobber football team and is important for giving the team more time to work and develop together. Horan believes that the extra time he gets with his players will benefit the team.
“These extra practices with our players is huge. We have a young team this year after losing some great seniors but we’ve got a lot of talent coming up,” Horan said. “Our offensive line is young, so these practices now are very important to getting some extra time to work with them. Almost our entire backfield will be returning. … We’ve got a skilled nucleus of players returning this year we can build our younger players around.”
Erholtz emphasized the impact of spring practices for not only improving skills, but for building a team.
“Spring ball is a big chemistry builder,” Erholtz said. “Getting everyone out on the field working together is good for creating an atmosphere of development among all levels of our team.”
The practices are going to be crucial going into next season. The Cobbers open the season against two very good non-conference teams: an away game against Nebraska Wesleyan followed by their home opener against Wisconsin-Whitewater.
Horan has high expectations for their opener.
“Every year, we’ve got high expectations going into the season but these two non-conference game are huge for the program,” Horan said. “It’ll be great for our team to face some good competition before taking on our conference opponents.”
Returning defensive starter and captain, Dallas Raftevold, speaks on behalf of the entire team when he says he is ready to be back on the field again.
“The guys are excited to be back on the Jake after a long season off and not ending the season how we wanted to,” Raftevold said. “We’re looking forward to more practices and a spring game this year along with making the trip up to Canada. … It should really benefit us and give us a head start going into this fall.”
The Cobber football team has their spring game May 6 at Jake Christiansen Stadium, followed
by their trip to Canada on May 7. The men open the season Sept. 2 against Nebraska Wesleyan followed by their home opener Sept. 9 against Wisconsin-Whitewater.