August 17, 2017 06:41 PM
(ABC 6 News) – In Dodge Center, Minnesota, this upcoming fall will look familiar to the Triton Cobras football faithful, as head coach Don Henderson returns to the sidelines for his 31st season—it’ll also be his last hurrah.
Henderson confirmed to ABC 6 News he is retiring after the season. In the past 30 years, the Cobras have won 282 games, that’s including three state championships, the latest one coming in 2006.
Henderson said he refuses to talk about retirement right now because “all of his focus is on his football team.” When Henderson is wearing shorts in practice, it’s easy to spot a Cobras logo on the back of his right calf—it shows how much the Triton football program means to him.
“Outside of my family and my faith, this is the biggest thing in my life,” Henderson said. “These are great times. 30 plus years being out here with Triton young men, you can't beat it. There's been ups and downs but the downs are pretty hard to remember when you have great kids to work with."
“I want to go out there and play hard for him,” offensive back and middle linebacker Levi Smith, who currently has a division II college football offer, said. “I want to make him proud of us. He’s pushing us, but he’s always have fun with it.”
“He’s a great leader,” returning senior quarterback Brady Essig added. “He knows how to talk to a lot of players, and he gets the best out of players.”
In 2017, Henderson’s team returns many juniors to a squad which finished 6-4 in 2016—and the majority of the season, the Cobras were without two-way star Leif Bungum, who is now playing football at the University of North Dakota.
"I think we're looking good,” senior offensive back and middle linebacker Levi Smith said. “Everyone is pushing it, seniors are giving everything they got, seniors are pushing the youngsters. We’re more experience now.”
If the Cobras do make a state title run, they’ll have to get past 2-time defending Class AA state champion Caledonia—the Warriors have won 28 straight games, all by at least 20 points each.
"I like that we're experienced,” returning senior quarterback Brady Essig added. “We've had a lot of success when we're younger, but it doesn't matter until you get out there your senior year."
The Cobras open the regular season on Thursday, Aug. 31 at Byron.
Updated: August 17, 2017 06:41 PM
Created: August 17, 2017 06:01 AM
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