2023 Pigskin Preview: Fillmore Central trusts its depth to go back to State

(ABC 6 News) — Falcons Football seemed poised for a chance at a state title in the 2022 Class A State semifinal. However, not even converting a hook-and-ladder on 4th down could keep them alive, falling to Minneota, 28-27.

But in 2023, the Falcons are raring to go, returning a large portion of the previous team.

“We have a lot of great numbers in our junior and senior class and a sophomore class pushing them,” head coach Chris Mensink said. “So, we’re excited about the depth and the guys that we have back and ready to make another run in 2023.”

Fillmore Central lost only eight seniors from last year, including star quarterback Dillon O’Connor and running back Bryce Corson. Nevertheless, the current roster trusts each other and their own abilities.

“I was the only new lineman to that group last year,” senior two-way lineman Tyler Mayer stated. “And so, it was kind of — I was stepping into some big shoes, filling out Pavin O’Connor. Our linemen, we are athletes, we might not have the size everywhere but we are fast.”

“It takes a lot to run a football team,” senior running back/linebacker Kyle Daniels assessed. “So, making sure everyone knows where they’re going, where they have to block and when I have to do what I need to do. So, it takes a lot of team effort just to get all that stuff done.”

While the offense looks to establish chemistry with three new linemen, the defense aims to keep continuity as the 2022 Falcons made plenty of big stops when it mattered.

“We all work together to make our own — the plays that we needed to make,” Daniels continued. “We trusted someone — the person next to us that would make the play.”

“Knowing your role, you can’t play defense as a hero,” Mayer pointed out. “You got to play as a team player. Just making sure the guys that fill in are willing to play as a team.”

The Falcons know better than to get in over their own head. But as one looks across the field, the players are all smiles and are still together in many ways. That unspoken trust will be essential as they take opponents both old and new.

“We can’t assume that things are going to go the way they went last year,” Coach Mensink emphasized. “So, we take it one practice at a time. (Of) course, our section and district has changed. Our schedule looks a lot different, so we got a lot of new opponents on our schedule, so it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Fillmore Central’s season opener is at Hayfield on Friday, September 1 at 7 PM.