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Published August 29 2010

Return to the fall: Rothsay has a football team of its own for the first time in nearly two decades

Rothsay, Minn. - To most people in the area, Rothsay is a stop on Interstate 94.

It’s a place that’s known more for the world’s largest prairie chicken statue. But it also has a gas station, a general store and a small pizzeria.

Not far from all that is an open field where people will find the newest thing to come to Rothsay: A varsity football team.

Rothsay will field its first varsity football team this season for the first time in 19 years. The team played a junior varsity schedule last season.

“It’s really exciting that all of us as friends are playing football again,” said Matt Zimmerman, a junior quarterback/cornerback.

“At first things were iffy when they talked about bringing the team back, but people came out.”

Rothsay had been in a co-op with Barnesville during the time it did not have a team. The co-op, the Rothsay players said, was a little one-sided.

Barnesville had most of the players as there were only nine Rothsay players in 2008, the last year of the co-op.

Playing for the co-op meant Rothsay’s players had to leave school 30 minutes early to arrive 15 minutes late to practice. And when players had to work out in the summer, they had to travel to Barnesville.

“It was an extra responsibility for students and families,” Rothsay head coach Andrew Oland said. “They were deciding that football was not for them.”

Getting school work completed was also an issue.

Junior Tyler Jorgenson said by the time some players came home, they were so tired they didn’t feel like doing homework.

In some cases, they couldn’t do homework.

“There were some people who left their homework on the buses,” Jorgenson said. “Every once in a while, I’d forget my book bag. If I forgot my homework, I’d call the bus garage and they’d make a trip over here to bring it to me.”

Commuting was also a problem because Rothsay is a major farming community. Jorgenson is the only player on the 20-man team who does not live on a farm.

Having a team full of farm boys isn’t a bad thing. Look at Rothsay’s offensive line, which averages 240 pounds.

“It is really good to have a lot of big guys that are really athletic,” said junior lineman Cody Larson, who is 6-2 and weighs around 250 pounds. “It allows us to move people around and create holes for our running backs. But we all have things to work on.”

He’s right, as last year’s JV season was the first time most of the starting offensive line played football.

Larson, who’s played since he was a freshman, had to help a lot of his teammates learn their positions.

Senior Zachary Simmer is proof that the offensive line is starting to gel.

Simmer said playing a JV schedule gave him a chance to become more comfortable with the position.

“You know, growing up on the farm, I didn’t have the time to play football,” Simmer said. “It’s exciting because we all like the game, we like the team. We’re all having a blast and we’re ready to start the season.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Ryan S. Clark at (701) 241-5548.