Royals football team setting goals for a comeback season

Sep 13, 2022

The Hopkins Royals football team is looking to bounce back after a subpar season last year.

The Royals got their first taste of some of the best competition in the state this past season when they moved up from Class 5A to Class 6A. They went winless, but gained valuable experience playing against some of the bigger and better teams in Minnesota. 

A few notable teams they faced in the 2021 season include the Prior Lake Lakers, the Woodbury Royals, and the state champion Lakeville South Panthers. 

To see improvement, one of the most important factors this year’s Royals have to consider is effort and attitude in practice.

“I think we will be more successful this year because there is much better chemistry among our team,” said Jai Kalvik, senior, one of the four football captains. “We aren’t at each other’s throats during practice and we’ve had much better energy.”

Experienced players have had to step into new leadership roles after playmakers including Lee Hutton, Aaron Aune, and Bryce Buckingham graduated and moved on to the next level of football. Along with Kalvik, captains Charlie Shaw, Max Hill and Rhys Vagle, seniors, are looking to make a statement in their final year of high school football.

With only nine seniors on the roster, the Royals are entering this season as one of the younger teams in the state. The influence the seniors have on some of the more inexperienced players on the team will be crucial for the team’s future success.

“One piece of advice I give to younger players is to enjoy their time on the team,” Kalvik said. “It goes really fast, and I can remember my freshman season like it was yesterday.”

One upside of having a limited number of seniors on the team is that the underclassmen can study individual seniors’ habits on and off the field in a more detailed manner. Sophomores meticulously watch their senior teammates at work, striving to model their game after those they look up to.

“I think having seniors on the team is important because they provide a lot of different perspectives,” said Tanner Odd, sophomore. “As a wide receiver, I can see Rhys run a route a certain way, and then Charlie run the same route a different way.”

The 37 sophomores and juniors on the Royals are aware of the potential they have. The newer players understand that if they can improve this season, the team can pose a major threat to other football powerhouses in the coming years.

“In the future, when my grade reaches junior and senior year, the younger guys on the team right now will have a lot of experience,” Odd said. “I think this will make us really dangerous in a few years.”

On September 15th, Coach Trevor Tolly will lead the Royals into one of the biggest stages in Minnesota as they take on Eastridge at the TCO Performance Center: the Minnesota Vikings practice facility.

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