The Sauk Rapids-Rice football team stormed its way to a 7-3 record in 2018, including a memorable win over the Tech Tigers in the Section 6AAAA playoffs on a last-second touchdown pass from Cade Milton-Baumgardner to Zach Storms.

 

“It was crazy,” senior offensive/defensive lineman Hunter Farnick said. “You look in the stands and everyone was freaking out… it was one of the coolest things ever.”

While the Storm would eventually fall to state-runner up Elk River in the section championship game, it was clear that the days of winless seasons were well behind Coach Phil Klaphake’s program.

“We always expect to be good, we really do,” Klaphake said. “Every team in high school football is different every year, and we play in a really tough (district).

“We don’t feel like just because we won games last year we are going to win games ever again,” Klaphake said. “We know we can win, but there’s a big difference between thinking you can win and actually winning on a Friday night.”

Farnick says the culture around the team has completely changed under coach Klaphake.

“It’s been really cool, we had a bad history for those couple years where we didn’t win too many games,” Farnick said. “He has really brought the program to life.”

Senior captain Landry Seaman says that the program has grown a lot since he joined the program a few years ago.

“It’s grown a ton,” Seaman said. “When (Klaphake) first came on he implemented a lot of new stuff, but now it seems like we are catching on really well.”

Milton-Baumgardner is among the notable names who have graduated from last year’s team, but Klaphake says they will return a lot of experience on the front lines.  In addition, he says that a lot of the kids that weren’t full time players in 2018 gained valuable experience.

“We are really excited about our guys up front, a lot of guys who are coming back for their third year,” Klaphake said. “We’ve got a lot of kids who played some role last year, I don’t think we have a lot of brand-spanking new guys this year.”