Bucs get ready for football opener
We are going to play football. We are not going to play football. We are going to play football.
Blue Earth Area head football coach Randy Kuechenmeister is entering his 35th year of coaching football for the Buccaneers and he knows every year is always a little different than any other year. But 2020 certainly tops all of the past years in comparison because of the affect COVID-19 has had on everything.
And yet one thing remains the same.
“I am excited,” Kuechenmeister says. “It is nice to be back on the field with the kids.”
Last year the BEA football team was the champions of Section 2AA and qualified for the State Tournament. The way things stand this year, winning the Section championship will be as far as any team can go because there will be no state playoffs.
“It is as good as we can do right now,” Kuechenmeister shares. “We should have played six games already instead of getting ready to play our first game.”
He says there is a lesson to be learned from what has happened.
“It shows us we are not as much in control as we would like to think,” he comments.
BEA is scheduled to have played their first game on Friday, Oct. 9, against the Jackson County Central Huskies, at Jackson.
“They made it to the State semifinals last year and they beat us by five points during the season,” Kuechenmeister says. “It will be a good test for our squad.”
The team will be comprised mostly of seniors and juniors, with just a couple of sophomores, to begin the season, according to the coach.
“We are trying to limit our numbers a little bit because of the pandemic,” Kuechenmeister notes. “It will make the sideline a little less crowded.”
There are other changes being put in place to offer the best possible protection for the players and coaches.
“We have hand sanitizers available, we probably will not use the other team’s locker room when we go on the road and the players will be spread out on the bus,” Kuechenmeister remarks. “And I give the players credit for being good about wearing the masks. They had to be prodded a little bit the first two practices but they got the message and are doing a good job now.”
BEA returns 17 seniors and 18 juniors to the squad this season. Last year the team had a 9-3 record. All three of their losses were to teams that had qualified for the state tournament.
This year’s schedule will include six regular season games.
“They call it a conference schedule, but it is really like a district schedule,” Kuechenmeister notes.
After their opening game in Jackson the Bucs will return home on Oct. 9, to host the Luverne Cardinals. Their next game is scheduled to be played on Saturday, Oct. 23, at 1 p.m. against Redwood Valley in Redwood Falls.
BEA then returns to a Friday night schedule with a home game against Pipestone on Oct. 30 and a game at Windom on Nov. 6 before hosting the final game of the regular season on Wednesday, Oct. 11, against Maple River.
A playoff will follow to determine the Section champion.
Kuechenmeister shares his thoughts on this year’s squad.
“It is like I say every year,” he says. “It is a work in progress.”
But the coach does believe the team has some things going for them.
“Obviously, we have a great deal of experienced players on this team,” he shares. “We are bigger and stronger than last year.”
Then there are the usual and the not-so-usual concerns.
“Staying injury free is always important,” the BEA mentor says. “Now we also have to worry about staying illness free. COVID-19 creates a whole new dynamic to work with.”
So the veteran coach reminds the players to be careful because he wants to see them play as much as they want to play.
“I think I can speak for the coaches and say we are enjoying being back on the field,” Kuechenmeister states. “You could see it in the kids too on the first day of practice. The players are excited to have something to look forward to.”
With a couple of weeks of practice under their belt and the first game right around the corner, Kuechenmeister is ready to get going with the season.
“You can only learn so much from practice,” he says. “It will just be fun to see how we will measure up against another team.”