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Henry Truebenbach rushes the ball against Maple Lake during Milaca’s scrimmage on July 24. The Wolves aim to safely play their season this fall on the gridiron. 

The Milaca football team, like many others across the state, is in a tough place. With the Minnesota State High School League’s decision to have a fall sport season still looming, the Wolves must prepare for the chance a season will take place.

Milaca did just that last week as the Wolves began to practice with helmets and pads, ending the week with a scrimmage against Maple Lake on July 24.

Starting last Monday, the Milaca coaching staff began camp with strong numbers, according to head coach Kevin Armbrust. “Turnout was good, we were pleased with the numbers,” he said, adding the Wolves had numbers into the 50’s for each practice.

“Everybody was happy to be back out there, the kids were working hard,” Armbrust said.

With the COVID-19 health pandemic still causing cause for concern for many sports,’ Milaca players have tackled the challenge strongly, according to Armbrust. “The kids have handled it very well, there are a couple extra steps we have to take for safety, but we are getting used to it.”

The extra steps Armbrust was referring to include working out in smaller pods of players, keeping kids in smaller groups, sanitizing equipment after each session, washing pads and hands and sanitizing after each session.

Following these new steps took some adjustments to get used to for Milaca and its coaches, but Armbrust knows the steps are important to player safety. “It took some more thinking about we were doing and how to make it safer. We got a great staff and we were able to do what we needed to do,” he said. The team has now become accustom to the extra steps for safety.

Those steps were fully demonstration during Milaca’s scrimmage against Maple Lake with the teams adhering to the new rules. “Both teams followed the safety guidelines and did what we had to do and played some safe football,” Armbrust said.

Milaca and Maple Lake were both able to compete in the early season exhibition, learning a little bit what their teams will look like this fall. “We got to see some good things and things we need to work on. We want to be in that section championship game but we have some work to do before then,” Armbrust said.

As for whether Armbrust thinks there will be a football season this fall, he believes there can be. “I think we can play, there is an added risk to it but I think you can do it if you are being safe. The benefits to playing are still great and if we change expectations of kids playing through illness, I think we can do it.”

The Wolves now anxiously await the MSHSL’s decision on what to do this fall for its sport season. The announcement is expected later this week.

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