By Bryan Zollman
Every team needs a little luck here and there when they take the gridiron.
But for Rosemount, it’s less about the luck of the Irish as it is about a dedicated group of kids who have put in the extra effort both on and off the field that has them off to a 5-0 start and potentially one of the top couple teams in Class 6A.
Since knocking off top-ranked Lakeville South and after defeating perennial power Eden Prairie, the Irish, coming off a 5-5 season, have begun turning heads.
And it all points back to a committed group of kids who simply got stronger.
“We are bigger, stronger and significantly more athletic,” said Jeff Erdmann, in his 23rd season at the helm. “We had more guys committed to the weight room and to preparing themselves in the pre-season. And now we are seeing the benefit of that.”
A lot of that added strength is coming in the trenches, where the defensive line has shoved opposing offenses back off the ball and where the offensive line has done some pushing of their own and allowing the offense to run the Power T scheme efficiently.
“We are much more physical on the lines,” said Erdmann. “That’s the primary change from last year. It’s allowing us to defend and to run the ball more consistently and those are the things you need to do in 6A football.”
The Irish have four backs who have carried the ball at least 37 times. With the offense they run, it’s a great scheme because the defense has trouble identifying who is carrying the football.
Junior running back Jackson Ganser leads the team in carries and yards at 59-294. But there isn’t much difference in stats between the other three. Junior QB Landon Danner has 45 carries for 236 yards, senior William Priest has 46 carries for 276 yards, and senior running back Jermaine Richardson has 37 carries for 137 yards.
Erdmann said more importantly than getting the football is the one not getting the football.
“They’ve been great about blocking for each other,” he said. “And they are all physical backs who get yards after contact.”
It all goes back to the weight room and pushing in the right direction. Being able to run the ball and get first downs is a reason why the Irish have only allowed two first-half touchdowns through five games. Controlling the football means controlling the clock and in 6A football it can determine a win or a loss. In the win against Eden Prairie, each team had two possessions in the first half.
“In our district you have a lot of smash mouth football,” said Erdmann. “The point was to keep the ball and grind it out.”
The defense stood up that game and has every game this season, allowing just 7.6 points per game.
“They have been playing well, especially great against the run,” Erdmann said.
Their next start is against Farmington, and the Irish will be ready for the challenge. A 5-0 start after a 5-win season last year has the team and coaches motivated, but also weary of 6A football where there are no low fruit to be picked.
It isn’t just every week, every game or every down, it’s every snap. And it’s what has been done away from the game that has prepared the Irish to rely less on luck and more on preparation, motivation and dedication.
“I feel good about our team and feel we should be competing with and able to beat anybody,” Erdmann said. “That’s the expectation.”