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High school football: Caledonia's season stopped in its tracks
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High school football: Caledonia's season stopped in its tracks

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It was a Friday practice that couldn’t have been going better for the Caledonia High School football team.

The weather was extraordinary for the second week of November, and so was the focus despite the fact there was no upcoming opponent.

“If you could have seen it,” Caledonia coach Carl Fruechte said, “it was awesome.

“At one point, I hit (assistant) coach Brett Knutson and just said, ‘Look at that.’”

They watched together as the players demonstrated not only the skill, knowledge and talent to execute the desired game plan, but had a blast doing it.

“They were giggling, getting things done and having a great time,” Fruechte said. “I’m the (offensive and defensive) line guy, and I let Casey (Schultz), Logan (Banse) and Skye (Welch) coach it.

“It was fun to see their energy and their passion.”

A few days later, the Warriors learned that practice time was ending. An abbreviated postseason that was planned wasn’t going to happen after all.

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An increase in area COVID-19 cases was to blame. Superintendent Craig Ihrke cited cases in the school as the reason to shift to a distance learning model, and that brought a halt to extracurricular activities like football.

That ended the chance to add to a 71-game winning streak or the chance to win a championship of any kind.

Caledonia has won either a conference, MSHSL section or state championship — many times all three — every year since 2007. The 13-plus seasons since 2007 began have produced 12 conference titles, 12 section titles and 10 state titles.

The Warriors played three games in 2020 and won all three before games began difficult to find. Caledonia last played on Oct. 30 and beat Chatfield 33-6 that night.

The championships in Caledonia are what they are. Fruechte never knows what the team’s winning streak is at, and winning is simply the result of the culture in place. Fruechte has never been absorbed by the end result as much as he has with the path to it.

So the focus won’t stray from what it’s always been. Losing the reinforcement of the spoils that accompany that hard work, however, could make concentration a little tougher for some.

Fruechte has already discussed the decision with most of his players, but they will meet Monday to help provide each other with some closure.

“I’ll be honest and say they are pretty hurt right now,” the coach said. “I ask some of them how they are doing, and they say, ‘Not good, Coach.’

“We want them to yell, scream, get it out somehow. I don’t want them to keep it bottled in, and we will check in them as much as we have to for them to feel OK.”

Todd Sommerfeldt can be reached at todd.sommerfeldt@lee.net or via Twitter @SommerfeldtLAX

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