Football: Still sorting it outPositions and roles are still up for grabs for an Irish football team that lost 36 seniors from a year ago
By: Matt Steichen, Rosemount Town Pages
It’s been a successful last seven seasons for the Rosemount football team.
The Irish have won 55 games and lost just 24 since the start of the 2005 season. They’ve won conference titles in two conferences — the Lake and South Suburban — and they’ve made three trips to the Metrodome while winning at least half of their games every year.
If that streak is going to continue, the Irish are going to have to get contributions from a large group of first-time varsity players. Only five starters — two on offense and three on defense — are back from last year’s team, which finished 5-4 with a roster that boasted eight all-conference performers among its list of 36 seniors.
With hitting just starting at practice this week, 14th-year Irish head coach Jeff Erdmann said it’s too early to tell who will occupy most of the positions on the field for his team when the season opener rolls around next Thursday at Apple Valley. One position he is set at is quarterback where Sean Kalinowki will take over the spot vacated by Nate LeMoine. Kalinowki had success catching passes from LeMoine last season when he made 24 grabs for 320 yards and three touchdowns.
“He earned it this summer,” Erdmann said of Kalinowki. “He’s played some quarterback at the lower levels. He is a tough young man and has shown to be an accurate thrower. We are getting him a lot of reps to expedite his learning curve before our first game.”
Also returning on the offensive side of the ball is Taji Onesirosan, a senior who started last year on the offensive line, and a pair of running backs —Eric Heimendinger and Ali Al-Khatib — who didn’t get a lot of carries last year, but could move into bigger roles after the graduation losses of top rushers LeMoine, Andy Gustafson and Logan Lindberg.
The Irish return one starter on each level of the defense. Brian Rogers is back on the defensive line, Andrew Dawson returns at linebacker and Kwame Owusu provides experience in the secondary at defensive back.
On special teams, Matt Gulland looks like the favorite to win the punting job and Sam Broback and Brandon Ekeren are still competing for the kicking duties.
After next Thursday’s opener at Apple Valley, the Irish return home for three straight games at Irish Stadium. They take on defending state champion Eden Prairie Sept. 7, followed by Bloomington Kennedy and Prior Lake, before traveling to Eagan in Week 5 and Lakeville South in Week 6. The final home game of the regular season is Oct. 12 against Bloomington Jefferson and the season finale is the following Wednesday at Lakeville North, the team Erdmann considers the favorite in the conference.
Section 3, Class 6A
With the addition of a sixth class to Minnesota high school football, the Irish find themselves in Section 3, Class 6A this fall. They are joined by Burnsville, Eagan, Eastview, Lakeville South, Lakeville North, Park and Prior Lake.
Under the new section format, each of the four eight-team sections in Class 6A will be seeded and play a first-round game against a section opponent (1 vs. 8, 2 vs. 7, 3 vs. 6, 4 vs. 5).
The top four teams from each section will then play section cross-over games against teams from another section (The No. 1 seed from one section would play the No. 4 seed from another section).
The top eight teams remaining in Class 6A would then advance to the Metrodome where the state quarterfinals, semifinals and finals will all be held.
Erdmann is joined on the coaching staff by varsity assistants Drew Storley, Mike O’Malley, Pete Roback, Chris Swansson, Parc Williams, Jason Elias, Steve Clausen, Ray Jalivay and Scott Peters. Sophomore coaches are Jay Hatleli, Grant Gilbertson, Brian Trussell, Steve Lufkin, Brian Adamek and Tom Conboy and the freshman team is coached by Tim Conboy, Josh Schoaf, Ken Vanoverbeke, Dave Bierly, Billy Morgan, Tim Wahl, Anthony Sicora and Ben Danielson.