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Cannon Falls’ Matthew Delk wraps up a pad during tackling drills at practice Friday at Cannon Falls High School. After reaching the Section 1AAA finals last season, the Bombers open the 2014 season on Aug. 29 at St. Charles. (Republican Eagle photo by Kyle Stevens)

Football: Hopes remain high for the Bombers

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CANNON FALLS – Taking the field for the final day of the first week of football practice, Cannon Falls head coach Josh Hofstedt blew his whistle just like any other year. Mostly, that’s because no much has changed for the Bombers.

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Well, except for the fact that Hofstedt and his staff must replace nearly all of its offense from a 2013 season that saw Cannon Falls defy the odds to make a run to the Section 1AAA championship game. The Bombers lost the state bid to Rochester Lourdes, and also lost four Republican Eagle All-Area players as well: quarterback Hunter Johnson, offensive lineman Austin Noble, defensive lineman Clay Broze and all-around threat Jordan Lundell.

“We did lose a lot of those guys that played quite a few years for us,” Hofstedt said. “But the guys we have coming up, we’re very strong at wide receiver and (defensive) back again this year. And we’re excited about our junior quarterback, Mason Beissel, he’s got a really nice arm and he should be able to do some really good stuff.”

Johnson, who sometimes played like John Burch Park was his personal sandlot, is the opposite of what Beissel appears to be. More of a drop-back passer, Beissel will make blocking a bit easier for some of his teammates.

“Sometimes that could be frustrating last year, not knowing where the quarterback was going to be,” said senior lineman and co-captain Matthew Delk. “Sometimes you’d think (Johnson) was on the other side of the field and, nope, he’d scrambled to right behind you. So, it might be a little bit easier to know Beissel is a little more disciplined to staying in one spot. But, across the board, we make our blocks and make our holes and keep our quarterback on his feet.”

One of Beissel’s targets this year will be senior tight end and co-captain Quinton Lindow. Also a linebacker, Lindow sees promise in the offense.

“It’ll be good getting in some pass routes, and catching the ball,” Lindow said, noting the Bombers will also be able to run the ball behind him when need be.

Any success Cannon Falls achieves this season will be dependent on not their seniors, like it was last year, but a crop of juniors and sophomores that will have to prove they belong on the field.

“We’re looking for that they’re dedicated to our program and that they can pick up our offense and that they’re in the right position,” Hofstedt said. “If they can learn what we’re teaching, that’s No. 1. And then athleticism and things like that come second, because if you’re in the wrong position, you’re not going to be able to play.”

Whoever plays for Cannon Falls in the Aug. 29 opener at St. Charles, the Bombers’ coaches will have the same mentality going into 2014 as they did in 2013, when Cannon Falls started 2-1 before a five-game losing streak ended the regular season. Back-to-back wins to open the playoffs changed the narrative, but it’s the only thing, aside from names and faces, that will differ for this season.

“We wanted to be better in the regular season, but that didn’t happen,” Hofstedt said. “But we pulled it together. We train and set our practice schedule to compete at playoff time. And we’ve been able to do that the last couple of years. That’s done intentionally, and that’s our plan again this year.”

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