LEROY, Minn. (KTTC) – Everybody loves a comeback story, and the LeRoy-Ostrander Cardinals have one of the best.
Like any comeback story, this one starts with heartbreak. Four years ago, the football-rich community had to shut their football program down due to low numbers.
“We got down before, and things haven’t always gone our way,” said first-year Head Coach Trevor Carrier.
After a year-long hiatus from competition in 2015, football returned to LeRoy-Ostrander in 2016, although the wins did not.
Fast-forward to now, and the Cardinals have done the impossible. Two weeks ago, L-O defeated two-time defending state champion Spring Grove, and last week knocked off top-ranked Grand Meadow defying any and all logic.
“I honestly think we’re all a bit shocked, too,” said tight end Tanner Kasel.
This was a community hungry for a winner, and for the first time in a long time, the Cardinals are delivering.
“Football has always kind of been a big thing in this small community, but now that we’re having so much success it’s really turned things around here,” said senior Caleb Janssen.
Public perception is something that’s really hard to change, but beating the state’s two top-ranked teams in back-to-back weeks has sent a statement heard ’round the state.
“It’s very cliche and maybe people look at it differently that you know ‘It’s LeRoy. They can’t compete. They’re happy with one win or two,’ but we’re going to try to do everything we can. We’ll be happy if we get to the state tournament.”
Their success has given them confidence, and rightfully so. The Cardinals, ranked 8th in last week’s poll, are sure to rise to the top of the 9-man rankings.
“We know that we have good talent on our team and we work hard in the weight room all season,” said wide receiver Riley Olson. “We just figured that if we play hard and work on every single play that we [can] get it out with a ‘W’.”
Now, the narrative shifts for the Cardinals. The target is on their back now, just like it was in years past. A sleeping football giant has awoken, and their bond has never been stronger.
“I love every single person on this team,” said Janssen. “I’m proud of all the work that they’ve put in in the weight room and I love all the heart that they play with, and the emotion and the feelings. It’s great.”
The LeRoy-Ostrander Cardinals football team is this week’s KTTC Athlete of the Week.