Eagan High School Football: 5 Players to Watch
The Eagan Wildcat football team has flown under the radar for the past couple of years.
In 2007, the Cats did not win a game in the regular season.
No one expected them to do anything in 2008, but they came out and won four games.
The next season had a lot of promise, until junior quarterback Jameson Parsons broke his right collarbone, costing him the rest of the regular season. Out of nowhere, senior Zach Zenner stepped up to the occasion and helped the Wildcats to the section semifinal game, until they lost to Cretin Derham Hall by one point. Eagan went for a two point conversion on the last play and they came up short.
Being a die-hard Wildcat fan, I'll admit I was very nervous in the 2010 season because a lot of starters were gone from the year before. The Cats exceeded my expectations, and especially in the section playoffs, making it to the section final, only to lose to Cretin, again.
Many players rose up to the occasion last year, and combined with the juniors that are coming to play this year, I believe the Wildcats are a dark horse this year for the South Suburban Conference.
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Mack Nelson—Senior, Wide Receiver, Captain
Mack Nelson reminds me of Roddy White of the Atlanta Falcons. They are both tall, can make spectacular catches, and will get the majority of receptions on the team.
Mack played at the varsity level last year, so he definitely knows what he's doing out there. Quarterback Drew Bauer will definitely be targeting Nelson this year because of his experience, hands and height. Mack stands at 6'4" inches, but he's an inch taller in cleats, which doesn't bother anyone except for opposing cornerbacks.
If I were playing Madden and Mack Nelson were in it, I'd have him run in a straight line and I'd throw it over his shoulder because he is that much taller than the average cornerback. Size does matter when someone's trying to catch a pass, and Mack has the advantage.
Mack has a bright high school future, and also is the lacrosse captain this year. He is also one of the nicest guys I know, but when he's on the field, he will unleash hell.
Tommy Nowariak—Senior, Inside Linebacker, Captain
Tommy Nowariak is one to especially watch, not only because he's a senior captain, but because he leads an inexperienced defense. The Wildcats lost many defensive starters last year, and fellow linebacker Mitch Knutson was the only starter on defense for the Cats.
Don't fret Wildcat fans, Nowariak knows what he's doing on the football field. He stands at 6', but he is built like a Mack Truck with arms the size of industrial pipes. Not many things can escape a Tommy Nowariak tackle, which is why he's perfect at inside linebacker.
It'll be interesting to see how Nowariak does on the field this year. Knowing Tommy, I bet he will step up to the occasion.
Ben Grounds—Junior, Cornerback
I've known Ben Grounds for the longest time, and one of the biggest reasons for his success is his game-attitude—nothing else matters to him when he steps on the field. He has that special trait to forget everything that's going on around him.
Looking at Ben's photo, he seems to look like a guy that just woke up from a nap or is one of the biggest squinters ever. But at corner, he has a game face that would send San Francisco Giants pitcher Brian Wilson to the showers. Grounds is one of the fastest players on the field, and will stick to wideouts like it's his day job.
Although Ben is still on the verge of a starting spot, he will still play a lot this year, and it will be fun to see him go up against wideouts from powerhouse schools such as Wayzata and Lakeville South.
Drew Bauer—Senior, Quarterback, Captain
I was in the same gym class with Drew last year, and he is honestly good at everything he does that involves athletics. He reminds me of Eagan's past quarterback Jameson Parsons, but has a better arm.
Drew has good weapons in Mack Nelson and Eric Woodcock to throw to, so opposing teams will be on there toes all game. It'll be interesting to see how he handles the projected-to-be high paced Eagan offense against some of the best teams in the state.
His first test is Lakeville South, who experts say will end up in the Class 5AAAAA State Championship. As if that's not bad enough, he goes up against Wayzata, who is projected to take on Lakeville South in the Class 5AAAAA State Championship.
A good analogy to this is taking a Calculus test on the third day of the course, then trying the world of hunger. Okay, maybe not, but this is a daunting task (vocab word).
Bauer will definitely be challenged this year, and I think he could do very well with the weapons that he is surrounded by.
Connor Randall—Senior, Offensive Tackle
Connor Randall is a big kid—so big that in the hallways at Eagan High School, his head pops out above everybody else's. He is a towering presence in the school, but also on the football field as well.
He was on the varsity team as a sophomore, and is one of the last sophomores to make the varsity team along with Alex Barta and Aaron Roundtree. He didn't get in too much, but it was smart on coach Rick Sutton's part because he knew Randall had the potential to become a great player and wanted him to understand the varsity football scene.
Connor has the frame of a shorter Michael Oher, and ironically they both play the same position. They both protect the run as well as they protect the pass, and they both will have success in their careers.
Although offensive linemen don't get watched much, I'll be watching Connor Randall and tallying how many kids he annihilates.
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