Blossoms put in summer work

Published 2:59 pm Friday, August 5, 2011

Blooming Prairie quarterback Luc Zelmer has spent plenty of time this summer working with his receiving corp of Ryan McCabe, from left, Gabe Kartes, Michael Thomas, Jon Kraling and Luke Hemann in preparation for this coming year's football season. -- Eric Johnson/

BLOOMING PRAIRIE — The Awesome Blossoms have made a name for themselves on the football field in recent years. They’ve played in the Section 1A title game for four straight seasons and they played in the Class ‘A’ state semifinals at the Metrodome two years ago.

At a glance, it would be easy to say BP has had a wealth of great athletes and that is partially true. But the whole truth is, it is simple dedication that keeps this school with an enrollment of 198 firing on all cylinders on Friday nights in the fall.

Blooming Prairie quarterback Luc Zellmer pulls back to throw during a captain's practice in Blooming Prairie Wednesday night. -- Eric Johnson/

It begins every June, when senior quarterback Luc Zellmer sends a text out to a handful of his teammates to see if they want to toss the ball on a regular basis. The next thing you know, Zellmer and his receivers are meeting three nights a week for two hours a night to run through the passing tree.

Email newsletter signup

“However long they want to run, I’ll throw for,” Zellmer said. “It helps us quite a bit.”

But the passing game is just half the battle and after BP had its season end to a physical Goodhue team last season, the players have also hit the weight room hard.

“Half of our summer is out here getting prep work done for the season,” BP senior running back Jon Kraling said.

While some athletes will go out of their way to take summers off, this group of Blossoms have been at it without any questions. The reason why is pretty simple – it’s just the way it’s always been done.

The seniors before this group of players did it this way and they’re now looking to pass it on to the younger generation. At a voluntary captain’s practice this past week that drew 31 players, it was strikingly obvious how hard the seniors were trying to get the younger players involved — whether it was questioning the youngsters on their knowledge of play calling or just giving them pointers.

[imagebrowser id=1212]

“We learned it from the older players and we want to get as many little kids as we can out here and show them the way,” BP senior running back Ryan McCabe said. “We want them to know how it feels to get to (state). I don’t know how to say it, but it’s an amazing feeling.”

The workout sessions have been specifically helpful to players like junior wide receiver Michael Thomas, who played mostly as returner and defensive back last season. Now he will have his timing down perfectly with his quarterback when the season rolls around.

“I think it’ll help me out a lot this season,” he said.

Besides their steady work in BP, the Blossoms also hit up a team camp in South Dakota State University, where they played in plenty of scrimmages.

“We thought we looked really good and we did what we needed to do,” BP senior linebacker/receiver Luke Hueman said. “All of the coaches were really happy. We just need to get everyone on the same page and get their heads straight. I think we’ve got a lot of potential and we just need to use it.”

Since Zellmer took over as the starting quarterback as a sophomore, BP has compiled a record of 19-5, but he’s also close to another record that he’s a little less excited about. While most high school athletes would be thrilled to be on the verge of setting a state record, Zellmer and his teammates would rather not talk much about the fact that he’s only 24 touchdowns away from tying the Minnesota high school record for career touchdown passes.

Blooming Prairie football players Luc Zelmer, left going clockwise, Jon Kraling, and Gabe Kartes talk Wednesday night before the start of captain's practice in Blooming Prairie. -- Eric Johnson/

“I would just rather win, but that’s just me I guess. It would be a nice way to put the small town on the map a little bit, but other than that, I don’t know,” said Zellmer, who has 78 career scoring strikes in two seasons.

Zellmer began starting as a sophomore and so did Hueman and senior receiver and defensive back Gabe Kartes. The three have been major contributors ever since they stepped on the field in a varsity game.

“We realized that it’s our last year and we’ve been working pretty hard,” Zellmer said. “Hopefully that pays dividends in the long run. I’m pretty excited and we’ve got potential, but we haven’t done it yet. We’ve still got to prove it.”

Kartes isn’t afraid to say what he’d like to do this season.

“We’re trying to continue the long line of success we’ve had lately and we’d like to reach the ultimate goal of winning state,” he said.

However the Blossoms’ season ends, they’ll know they gave it their all — even in the offseason.