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Football: Wingers taking their time

New Red Wing head football coach Rickey Foggie addresses the team at the end of practice Thursday morning at Red Wing High School. After going winless in 2013, the Wingers open play in the Big Nine Conference on Aug. 29 at Northfield. (Republican Eagle photo by Joe Brown)

Dealing with a new head coach, new plays, moving to the Big Nine Conference and having a team hungry to win after going 1-17 over the past two seasons, Red Wing football has a lot to digest.

With all that in mind, new Wingers head coach Rickey Foggie is keeping things simple in the first week of practice, letting the players soak up all the changes gradually.

“We’re putting in a couple of plays offensively and defensively every day, and they’re picking up on that,” said Foggie, who came to Red Wing after coaching at Park Center High School. “The kids are responding pretty well.”

For the players, soaking up football knowledge from the former University of Minnesota quarterback has helped raise expectations early on.

“We’ve handled (the first week of practice) pretty well,” said senior wide receiver Ben Miller, who is the Wingers’ top returning receiver from last year (41 catches, 426 yards, four touchdowns). “It’s been different from previous years; the expectations are higher.”

Foggie’s expectations for the first week have been to bring Red Wing up to speed on conditioning. He admitted the team isn’t where he wants it to be, but Foggie can’t complain about the players’ efforts: The players are seeing the extra conditioning as a necessary evil if they hope to make a dent in the Big Nine Conference.

“We’ve done more conditioning than I think we did all of last year. It’s been hard, but it’s been what we needed,” said senior lineman Nick Connelly, who is committed to the University of Minnesota. “He really knows what he’s talking about … he worked out at a D-I level as far as conditioning.”

As the team learns Foggie’s playbook, the head coach is only concerned so far with perfecting the basics.

“We don’t run a lot of plays, because you do have to understand that it is high-school football,” Foggie said. “I want to develop the offense and defense that’s suitable for our kids. I think we’re doing a good job of that as a coaching staff.”

Connelly added, “(Foggie’s) just going to try and make it really simple; put in a few solid plays and get really good at them. A play a day or so, just practicing them back and forth. They’re not really more complex or anything from what we ran last year. Everything’s just super simple and to the point so we can play completely perfect and error free.”

Through all the extra laps and pushups, and the constant repetition of plays, the Wingers have been receptive, and that’s all Foggie wanted.

“The kids, you ask them to do something and nobody talks back,” Foggie said. “Now it’s up to us to put the kids in position and do it the right way. It’s up to us as a coaching staff to get the most out of the kids.”

Hopefully, the slow build will come to a head in the season opener, where Red Wing will have some familiarity with former Missota Conference foe and new member of the Big Nine, Northfield.

“It’s going to be nice since we’ve played them before and know what to do,” Miller said about Northfield, who beat the Wingers 38-0 last fall. “Hopefully we’re able to get a win there.”

Miller continued, “Our goal is to be .500 this year, and hopefully, we can come out on the winning end more this year.”

Joe Brown

Joe Brown is the sports editor for the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Previously, he worked at the Marshall Independent and the St. Cloud Times. For updates on local sports, follow Joe on Twitter at @RE_JBrown.

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