HS Football Preview: Zumbrota-Mazeppa trying to prove 2021 was just growing pains

(ABC 6 News) — Most don’t realize just how hard it can be to win one football game regardless of the team.

Last year’s 1-8 season taught Zumbrota-Mazeppa football many things about its progression as a program.

"Well, you know what? Every year is a little bit different," Cougars Head Coach Darin Raasch stated. "You pour so much of yourself into things that hitting that reset button so you’re fresh for these guys… Getting myself back to that passion and energy that we want to bring to the table – that I need to bring to the table every day, is exactly what we’ve done."

Coach Raasch cited inexperience with certain play calls as one reason why Z-M struggled. To rectify that, the Cougars went to Marshall where they spent a few days learning from Southwest Minnesota State’s football team.

"At the team camp out at Marshall, we were playing really well, even against other schools – like big-name schools," Cougars quarterback Zane Angerman recollected. "We were competing with them every play."

"I think those college boys really showed us what it’s like to work hard and get the game of football down," Cougars wide receiver/strong safety Conner Preston reflected. "There’s no messing around, they take it serious all the time. Working hard all the time even when nobody is watching is a big part of the football game."

With stiff competition across the board, Zumbrota-Mazeppa has zeroed in on fixing on-field communication both offensively and defensively.

"This summer we put a lot of time in — just like working together," Angerman noted. "And everything is coming together real nice."

"Really, it was just an experience thing," Preston affirmed. "Knowing our plays, knowing what we need to be doing and just having it down is going to be a big help for this coming season."

Victories don’t come easy, but the Cougars are trusting each other to get the plays done right and to prove 2021 was just a case of growing pains.

"We got a lot of things up our sleeves for big plays," Preston suggested. "We’ve got big running backs that are willing to push through three guys to get that first down."

"This team has a lot of character and we’ve got a lot of characters," Coach Raasch pointed out. "They bring passion to the table, we’ve got experience across the board. We’re really excited about getting it going this year."

The Cougars will host the Dover-Eyota eagles at home on Thursday, September 1 at 7 PM.