AREA FOOTBALL: Cass Lake-Bena is Beefing up in football
CASS LAKE -- With a new head coach and revamped program, the Cass Lake-Bena football family hopes to see drastic improvement in the upcoming seasons.
CASS LAKE - With a new head coach and revamped program, the Cass Lake-Bena football family hopes to see drastic improvement in the upcoming seasons.
The Panthers have lost their last 15 games, their last win dating back to Sept. 6, 2013, they managed to score six points all of last season.
But this year, with the help of new head coach Bryan “Beef” Sathre, the team has a fresh start and is already seeing results.
“This year is a new year,” Sathre said. “‘Restoring the Pride’ is what we call it. They’ve had a tough go for the last six, seven years.”
The Apple Valley native has been teaching physical education and health in Cass Lake for 16 years. He has coached Bemidji Middle School football, Lumberjacks’ offensive line and in Cass Lake as an assistant.
Sathre said his two areas of focus are family and fundamentals.
“Football is a sport that doesn’t build character. It reveals character,” he said. “And that’s what we’re looking for is kids that want to have the heart and dedication and want to be part of a family.”
At the end of practice as the team took a knee, he stressed the importance of sticking together as a team and supporting each other.
But the team needs more than heart and dedication to be successful.
“As far as fundamentals, we’re starting in the weightroom,” Sathre said. “These are very smart kids. We just have to increase our strength and our speed. That’s what we’re focusing on.”
After a few days of practice, the Panthers players know what they need to improve on, and they’re progressing.
“I noticed already from day one that all the players have been having a better outlook on how the season’s going to turn out,” junior safety David Foster said. “Beef was talking about what we’re going to be doing different and that he’s expecting more.”
Junior quarterback Coredell Coss agrees, saying his new coach not only pushes him harder in the weightroom, but also has the players coming closer as a team.
“I feel like we’re more together as a family this year, and we want to win as a team,” he said. “We’re not a bunch of individuals just coming out to play football.”
Sathre talked about his excitement for the up-and-coming groups, saying they have good underclassmen numbers. Using his coaching experience in Bemidji’s youth football program, Sathre is developing a similar program in Cass Lake.
“The last couple years, it was just something we tried to get kids to go out and play,” he said.
“Well this year we organized it and we kind of copied the model that Troy (Hendricks) started at Bemidji High School for the youth football program there.”
The program starts kids out in fourth grade, hopefully to develop them into varsity players by the time they’re upperclassmen.
While organizing the program and coaching his players, Sathre is also getting accustomed to nine-man football. This is Cass Lake’s second full year in the nine-man format. Among aspects to get used to, he cited lack of number affiliation with positioning and creative formations with fewer players.
Considering the season outcomes of the last several years, not many football coaches would want to tackle the head spot in Cass Lake.
But Sathre looks at it differently.
“Everyone asks ‘why are you doing this, it’s such a big hill to climb’,” he said.
“But when you look around at the kids and even the parents of the kids and the guardians, they’re awesome. And why not give them a fair chance and why not allow them to be successful? And they will be. That’s the cool part about it.”
The Panthers season opener is 7 p.m. Aug. 22 at Grygla-Goodridge. Sathre said all he knows about the Chargers is it’s a long trip, and he expects a tough contest.