Oppedal returns to BEA with Winona State University
People driving near the Blue Earth Area football practice field south of the high school on Friday, Oct. 1, may have noticed something a little different about the team out on the field.
The players running through plays were somewhat larger than our local BEA football team. In fact, while our offensive line averages less than 220 pounds, the offensive line of the team on the practice field that Friday afternoon averaged 315 pounds.
However, a keen-eyed observer may have recognized one player on the practice field; BEA graduate Trevor Oppedal.
Oppedal is the starting right tackle for the Warriors from Winona State University. They were on their way to Wayne, Nebraska, to take on the Wayne State Wildcats in a battle of Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) schools.
“Thursday is an off-day for us,” Warrior head coach Tom Sawyer said. “So, when we have to travel on Friday we like to stop and have a ‘fast Friday’ practice. We do an explosive lift, work up a sweat and get the offense and defense out on the field to run some plays.”
Oppedal, who weighed in at 296 pounds on Friday, graduated from BEA in 2018. The 6-foot-8 offensive lineman red-shirted his first year in college in 2018, played in 2019 and then lost the 2020 season because of COVID.
Sawyer, who has been the Warriors’ coach since 1996, says one of the biggest challenges for offensive linemen is keeping their weight up.
“They are used to hearing about 2,000 calories consumed per day as being normal,” Sawyer comments. “Yet, they need to take in about 7,000 calories per day to maintain their weight. They can lose many pounds during the day.”
The familiar surface of the BEA practice field was not the only treat for Oppedal to experience that afternoon.
His grandmother, Dawn Leland, was at the school waiting to give her grandson a hug. She also brought bars for her grandson and his teammates to enjoy at the end of practice.
“I was happy I could get here to see Trevor,” she said. “And he will always get a hug no matter how sweaty he is.”
Oppedal says he is happy to be playing football at the college level.
“The plays are more sophisticated and there is more detail to the blocking assignments,” he notes. “Everybody is bigger, stronger and faster than in high school.”
Yet, he is quick to point out how thankful he is to have been a part of the BEA football program and to have been able to play under head coach Randy Kuechenmeister and his assistants.
“They taught us the importance of playing as a team,” Oppedal states. “They also instilled in me the mindset to never take anything for granted.”
Unfortunately for Winona State, they ended up losing to Wayne State 38-21. The Warriors led 7-0 after the opening quarter but were outscored 28-14 during the second quarter which put the Wildcats on top 28-21 at half time. The Warriors were unable to score in the second half.
Winona State’s record stands at 3-2 while Wayne State is 4-1.
The Warriors will be traveling by Blue Earth two more times this season. They have games in Sioux Falls the last two weekends of October, one against the University of Sioux Falls and the other against Augustana University.
“We may stop here again,” Sawyer commented. “It is about halfway on our trips to Sioux Falls and we like to stop where one of our guys played in high school.”