SAUK RAPIDS --The Sauk Rapids-Rice Storm football team has a new coach for the first time in 17 seasons. Former coach Bill Magnuson announced his resignation in June after accepting an assistant coaching job with Pequot Lakes.

(Photo: Alex Svejkovsky, WJON)

Enter former St. Cloud State standout Phillip Klaphake, who had spent the previous two seasons as an assistant at Gustavus Adolphus where he coached defensive backs.

The Storm will look to replace quarterback Matt Johnson (772 yards, 7 TD, 6 INT), but return Koby Thelen (28 carries, 145 yards, one rushing TD and five catches for 82 yards), Tyler Kranz (17 catches for 307 yards, one touchdown) and Daunte Keller (five catches for 101 yards and two touchdowns).

"We have a good team and a good group of kids," Klaphake said. "For me, being a first year coach it's hard for me to compare it to anything."

Klaphake says that there is a feeling-out process playing out at practices in the early stages of his head coaching career.

"It's hard to compare it to anything, hard to know what our kids have learned in the past," Klaphake said. "So there have been some changes as far as how I run practices and how I operate."

The Storm have a relatively small number of seniors, so Klaphake with have a youthful group to mold.

"We've got kind of a smaller senior class, right around 15 kids," Klaphake said. "Which is small, but it's a good group of kids."

(Photo: Alex Svejkovsky, WJON)

With the smaller number of players going out for football, Klaphake uses his college experiences to try to build the program.

"I thought going from college to high school maybe I wouldn't have to recruit as much," Klaphake related. "It's still just as much recruiting, getting them to come to practice, to stay and retain them from middle school to high school.

The Storm open the season at Princeton, the school Klaphake graduated from in 2009.

"It's cool," Klaphake said. "I remember when I was interviewing and I pulled out the schedule and was like 'wait a second, we're playing in Princeton," Klaphake said.

"It'll be fun to go back there, I know it'll be a great game," Klaphake said. "I know last year they played against each other and it was a good battle."

"We are excited, we are ready to go play a little bit," Klaphake said.

(Photo: Alex Svejkovsky, WJON)