After multiple seasons of a few wins, Crookston finds themselves as the three seed in the section tournament.
For the past couple of years when you talk about Crookston football you usually will get the same comment from everyone. “They suck.” And I'll admit it, even I believed it for awhile. Every year the team would say it’s “their year.” As usual the team won only a couple games and the morale for the rest of the season became low. Most of the guys just joked around about how “bad” the team was and wanted to move on to their winter sport. I’m guilty of that. I was in football because I had a starting spot and I was good at it. Did I love it? Not really, why would I when all we did was lose and only got a couple wins each year? Same old tradition just a different year. After my first football game my junior year, I started to think, “Why would I want to spend the rest of the season and all of my senior year doing the same old thing?” I decided that I was sick of losing, it sucks! No one wants to be a part of a losing team. The football team was a joke to almost everyone. Almost everyone.
The summer practices and weights started out slow with only the captains and a couple more people going. As a senior and a captain, I wanted to win. The other seniors felt the same way, and we were determined to prove to this town that our football team isn't some dumb joke. During the summer the guys came up with new ideas and new rules, all of these were from the players and not from the coaches. As the first practice rolled around, we laid the new ground rules. Our first game was against our long time rivals, East Grand Forks. We needed to install the idea of winning and believing, but most importantly not giving up no matter what the score was. Well, we beat EGF, something Crookston football hasn’t done since 2007.
The team was interviewed and Captain Timmy Parr said something that has stuck with us this season. He said, “We need to change the culture.” Thanks to that little quote it inspired this team. Coach Butt has been preaching to us all year that if you believe you can be a good football team, then you will be. But everyone has to believe it. By now, everyone does. All the coaches believe in us, they always have. We believe in ourselves, so why can’t we win? No one ever said that we had to win only 2-3 games every year. We have won more than two games already, and that is something that hasn't been done in a couple of years. Most importantly, we have been showing people that we can be a good team and that we aren’t the “underdogs” every game we go into. If you watched the Barnesville game, you saw how we ran with them and gave the #2 ranked team in the section a run for their money. The end score wasn’t what we wanted, but if we cleaned up a few things, I believe we can beat them next time.
Our record is 5-2 this year and our only losses came from the two top ranked teams in our section (Hawley and Barnesville). Now, I know the real test will be in the playoffs-- to see if we can finally get past the first round. Looking forward, if we beat Roseau we will probably get the third seed. That means a home game first round of playoffs.
I’ve thought about the teams I've been on the past couple years. It wasn't a lack of skill, it was the dedication and believing part. Our problem was we could not keep everyone together and not quit when it got tough. Not this year. Most people thought we were going to be 0-9, 1-8 or 2-7. To all those kids who didn’t join and to the people who thought we “sucked,” well... as of right now we look pretty good to me. Like I said, playoffs is the real test for us. But Timmy Parr said it himself, “Change the culture!” and that's the plan. One things for sure, it’s nice singing “You are My Sunshine” more than twice a year.
Weiland is enrolled in Kristi Swanson’s communications and broadcasting course at CHS.
Note to readers: Crookston defeated Roseau 33-19 to improve to 6-2 and will host Bagley on October 24 at 6 p.m.