Fall Creek, Osseo (WQOW) -- Fall Creek and Osseo-Fairchild each have proud football traditions, but both programs are eyeing a return to the postseason.
The Crickets went the the playoffs in 2015, but missed out last year, when Fall Creek lost its first five games. But the Crickets turned it around, winning four of their last five, averaging 40 points per game in those four wins. Head coach Josh Tumm hopes his returning players learned something over that stretch.
"You've got to start fast, you've got to be ready to go right away and we had parts of the games ready to go early last year, but we just couldn't put complete games together," Tumm says, '"it took us a while to get going and we were able to build on that and kind of gel toward the end of the year and hopefully kind of pick up and carry on from there."
Tumm is happy about the numbers of players that have come out for football.
"We have a couple of big classes coming through." says Tumm, "it's going to be our junior class that's a pretty large class and but really just across the board we have a lot of really good, hard working kids and they just seem to be willing to do whatever we ask them to do, so that's what you hope for as a coach."
Nearly every team talks about taking it one game at a time, but Tumm says that didn't happen in 2016
"We're not even going to look at expectations in terms of the year," says Tumm, "we got pretty excited about that last year and I think we kinda goofed up there a little bit. Our emphasis is absolutely going to be this practice today and then this week, and setting those goals individually and as a team."
"We're just trying to take it one game at a time, one week at a time and see where it takes us," says Crickets senior running back Ethan Ritger, "we're just coming together as a team and doing what we can to get a W."
"We're just working day in and day out, we're just going to do our best to keep repping," says Fall Creek senior wide receiver Tyler Riemenschneider, "everyone's really gelling well."
Fall Creek kicks of the season on Thursday, August 17, when the Crickets host Eau Claire Regis.
Osseo-Fairchild has won five WIAA State Football titles, most recently, in 2000. The Thunder's last trip to the postseason was in 2014. O-F had its moments last year, averaging 43 points per game in its three wins. A lot of players who saw action do return, but head coach Eric Boettcher plans to tweak the offense this season.
"We were close last year, we were also very young, we played some freshmen, quite a few sophomores, some juniors," Boettcher says, "at the end of the season we were obviously missing some of our key seniors with injuries and things. We lost a lot of speed, we'll have some faster guys, but offensively, we're going to look to try to put the ball and keep it on the ground more often and not quite so much up in the air, and spreading the field all over the place."
The Thunder's young players from last year are now one year older, more experienced, and more optimistic.
"We're high energy. There's a lot of energy in these guys, they have a commitment to win," says Osseo-Fairchild senior right guard/defensive tackle Kaden Bowman, "we didn't have that in past years, it was kind of laid back, this year there's definitely an energy. You can feel it."
"We're working on what we need to get done," says Thunder senior wide receiver/defensive end Ethan Dahl, "we're more of a brotherhood, I love these guys, and we're family."
"They're eager to be back, we installed a couple of new things for us and they're excited about those new aspects of the offense," Boettcher says, "they're happy to be back here, we've got six 6 seniors that are showing that they're great leaders and we're going to go from there and lean on them a lot."
?Osseo-Fairchild opens the season at home, Friday, August 18, when the Thunder will host Spencer/Columbus.