CALEDONIA COACH CLAIMING TITLES, CREATING FUTURE FOOTBALL CARD STARS
For the eagle-eyed readers who saw my previous post, you might have seen me in my teen years on a baseball card sporting a black and gold pullover jersey with the word “Warriors” on the front. That’s the team name of the town where our featured guest and I attended school and participated in sports. That small town of Caledonia, Minnesota didn’t have much of a football program back in those days. They certainly weren’t on a football card. That’s all thanks in part to two men: Carl Fruechte and Brent Schroeder.
Fruechte (who happened to be my soccer coach at one point) began the turnaround leading his team to a record of 111-31 in his career before stepping down in 2010. Schroeder, then an assistant coach, swapped jobs with Fruechte and went an impressive 76-3. This year, Schroeder, winner of four state championships in his six years as head coach, once again played the old switcharoo with Coach Fruechte. It doesn’t really seem to matter, though. With both men at the helm leading the charge, there may certainly be more championships on display at Caledonia in the future.
The football program that Fruechte and Schroeder have put together has not only made their team a juggernaut, it has also begun to develop collegiate and professional players. Names like Karl Klug and even Fruechte’s own son, Isaac, have made it onto NFL squads. Before now, having a professional athlete come out of little old Caledonia, Minnesota was unheard of. The way things are going these days, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Warriors have a breakout star in the making right this very moment—destined to be on his or her very own football cards.
Brent, father of Alexis (11) and Kody (8), isn’t just a dad and a coach of a very-difficult-to-beat-so-why-even-bother-showing-up football team. He also runs a landscaping business and, starting this year, is a School Counselor at CHS. It’s kind of impressive that this kid who I graduated with is able to split his time up with so many things and still create a monster football program. I caught up with Brent just before their 2016 season began and tossed a few questions his way.
VTC: Coach Schroeder, thank you for taking time to answer these questions for us today. First of all, congratulations on the outstanding season you and your team had last year. Back in our day, Caledonia wasn’t exactly known for its football program; in fact, we only had one State Championship to our name and that was won in 1976. Since then, however, Caledonia has racked up titles in ’07, ’08, ’10, ’11, ’12, and 2015. What have been the biggest changes in Caledonia’s football program from the time when you were playing on the team, to now as a coach of the team?
BS: The biggest thing we have changed is the culture and year-round dedication by our student athletes.
VTC: To give an example of just how dominating your team was in 2015: each of your wins were blowouts, you scored no fewer than 34 points in any given game, your team allowed an average of 4.7 points per game, and you outscored your opponents 131-6 in the State Championship playoffs; and, you clinched the title with a remarkable 40-0 victory. What are the biggest challenges you face as a coach with such an impressive team?
BS: The biggest challenge we face is continuing to have enough athletes out and keep them on the right track. Our kids are doing a good job in the offseason and have seen what it takes year after year to get to the top. As long as our kids keep working like they do we will have successful student athletes in Caledonia.
VTC: Caledonia’s football program has produced two current NFL players: Karl Klug with the Titans and Isaac Fruechte with the Vikings. What does it mean to you, not only as a native of the Caledonia area, but also as a coach, to see homegrown talent come out of the same football program that you now lead?
BS: We are proud of all our former players and the accomplishments they have achieved. As far as Isaac and Karl it gives every child in southern Minnesota a chance to dream and believe about being great in whatever drives passion in their lives.
VTC: Speaking of Isaac Fruechte, he and some of his Vikings teammates were recently in Caledonia honoring your team as the first ever Minnesota Football Program of the Year. In Minnesota, there are seven Football State Champions (including 9-Man), but yours is the only team with the distinction of Program of the Year. With all the accolades and accomplishments already under your belt, in a very short span of time, what’s next for Coach Schroeder and the Caledonia Warriors football team?
BS: One game at a time. La Crescent is game number one for 2016! (Update: Caledonia handled La Crescent 45-14 for their 40th consecutive Conference victory, then went on to win yet another Class AA State Championship.)
When we were kids, Caledonia football games were just something to do on Friday nights. Now, they are an absolute must-see. Congratulations to you and your team on all of your successes. Good luck in the future and thank you again for taking the time to talk to Varsity Trading Cards!