COLD SPRING -- The Rocori Spartans are looking to make their third straight trip to the State Tournament in 2016. The Spartans were eliminated in the quarterfinals in 2014 and made it to the semifinals in 2015 before losing to South St. Paul.

“Last season was really good, made it to the state semifinals,” Coach Mike Rowe said. “We came up a little short, would have been nice to make it to TCF Bank Stadium with that group of seniors.”

(Photo: Alex Svejkovsky, WJON)

“It was a really fun season,” senior wideout Derek Thompson said. “I honestly didn’t expect to make it that far at the beginning of the season, it was a great run.”

Senior two-way player Nick Warne says that playing for the Spartans is a matter of pride.

“It’s a pretty big deal,” Warne said. “We started a legacy being back-to-back, hoping to keep that going and make the town proud.”

The Spartans will return nine players on the defensive side of the football, which coach Rowe predicts will be a strenghth.

“Defensively we have a lot of guys returning,” Rowe said. “We have three guys that have played four years for us, and the rest of them are three year starters.”

“You bring back nine guys on defense, you are gonna be pretty good,” Rowe said.

“Our defense is probably our biggest strength,” middle linebacker Nathan Thorpe said. “We have nine guys coming back that have started and started last year.”

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(Photo: Alex Svejkovsky, WJON)

Offensively, many key players will return. However, starting quarterback Connor Schoborg will miss a handful of games as he recovers from knee surgery.

“Definitely sitting out will be a bummer, but we have a good backup in Mason Primus,” Schoborg said. “He’s been there before, he’s got experience and he will do a great job.”

Of course it doesn’t hurt that the Spartans return Thompson as well, giving Primus (and Schoborg) a 6’7” target.

“He makes everything easier,” Schoborg said. “You get in trouble, you can just put one up there.”

“If he can’t catch it, no one is going to catch it,” Schoborg said.

Dave Overlund