One tough trio: BP football team will lean on experience

Published 8:44 pm Monday, August 20, 2018

BLOOMING PRAIRIE — The Awesome Blossoms came up a handful of plays short of the Minnesota Class A State Football Tournament last season, and this year’s team is determined to make sure they do whatever they can to keep that from happening again.

As it looks to take the next step as a program, BP will look to a trio of leaders in senior Seth Peterson, who is in his third year as a starting quarterback, junior Gabe Hagen, a sizable force on both sides of the ball, and senior Payton Simon, a high-strung leader that could push BP to new heights.

Peterson’s experience will allow BP to hand the offense over to him this fall and he is now the third straight BP quarterback to start for three years. His predecessors — Luc Zellmer and John Rumpza — both led BP to state berths and Peterson is hoping to duplicate that accomplishment this year.

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“When I was young I was always looking up to Luc Zellmer and John Rumpza and I’ve always tried to be just as good as them, if not better,” said Peterson, who threw of 2,278 yards and 25 TDs last season while running for 409 yards and two scores. “I want to have the kind of success that they had and I think this year we can do it.”

BP head coach Chad Gimbel said he always looks to find a varsity quarterback as a freshman and then have them start for three years. Peterson likely won’t need a lot of help this season when it comes to reading defenses and making check-downs.

“We like to have our quarterbacks for three years and this is the reason why. By their senior year, they can pretty much run the offense and they can pretty much call the plays,” Gimbel said. “He’s seen it all and there’s nothing new that we can throw at him. He knows where he’s going with the ball.”

Blooming Prairie’s Payton Simon carries the ball in practice.

Two of Peterson’s biggest targets this season will be Hagen, who hauled in 32 passes for 556 yards and eight touchdowns last season, and Simon, a small, but quick athlete who can play in the slot or the backfield.

“Gabe’s going to make all of the wide receivers better,” Gimbel said. “He’s going to get a lot of attention and that just opens it up for other guys. Payton’s such a leader and such a motivator. He does things right and he leads by example. Some day he could be one heck of a coach, because he knows the game that well, inside and out.”

Hagen has been starting since he was a freshman and he’s excited about the prospect of actually playing against players his own age this season.

Simon said the team’s motivation is at an all-time high. He doesn’t get upset when he thinks about last year’s 19-14 loss to Goodhue in the Section 1A title game, but he does get motivated.

“It’s just fuel for the tank. You’re that close, why not just finish the deal and win it and go to state. We want to go compete with the best teams in the state. It’s always fuel when you get that close and don’t finish,” Simon said. “Our offense is high powered. We’re going to be able to score on you, we’ve just got to be able to goose egg you on defense. That’s key.”

Peterson is excited to get the season started as he has big faith in Simon and Hagen as teammates.

“I’ve known these guys for years and how good they are,” Peterson said. “I know I’ll get the best out of them and if I make throw, they’ll go out and make the play.”

BP will open its season when it hosts Southland at 7 p.m. on Aug. 31.