Sep. 8—GOODHUE — It would have been entertaining to witness a Goodhue Elementary School recess some six years ago, with Grant Reed, Max Loos and Gavin Schafer right in the middle of it.
Put those three in the center of a field and have their classmates try to elude them.
Here's a good guess: Nobody would've gotten past them.
That guess is ventured after knowing what seniors Reed, Loos and Schafer have done on the football field for Goodhue High School the last three seasons. That trio lines up side by side by side as Wildcats linebackers, representing one of the most fearsome collections in southeastern Minnesota.
Add sophomore and fellow linebacker Jack Carlson to that mix, as has been the case the last two years, and it's a fearsome foursome.
On Thursday, Aug. 31, that group — along with the evening's leading tackler, Wildcats defensive end Marcus Young — went the longest way in holding the Lewiston-Altura offense to virtually nothing. The Cardinals produced 12 total offensive yards, 18 passing, minus-6 rushing.
Reed, Loos and Schafer — all of them in the 5-foot-10, 185-pound range, with speed, strength and just the right amount of nastiness to them — were the team's leading tacklers last year, with the 5-11, 205-pound Carlson not far behind. There's every reason to believe that's going to repeat itself this season, and then some.
Goodhue coach Tony Poncelet is witness to a linebacker group that is at its scary peak.
"Our defense was flying around (against Lewiston-Altura)," Poncelet said. "I think our linebackers as a group, with them in their third year on varsity, the game has slowed down for them and they're able to make the right read and go. Plus, coach (Matt) Halverson (defensive coordinator) does a great job with them."
Schafer considers himself and his fellow senior linebackers Reed and Loos to have an advantage over some linebacker crews. He credits their small-town rearing in Goodhue, population 1,252, for them knowing each other so well as players and people.
That's come in handy in football games, with them aware of just how to play off of and cover for each other.
Those elementary school recess games were a prime place to learn.
"We are all good friends and came from the same small town (Reed moved to Goodhue in the sixth grade)," Schafer said. "When we're on the football field, we're all on the same page. It is a lot easier to communicate when you know each others tendencies like we do."
It is also easier when all are virtual carbon copies of each other, in build and ability. That's allowed them to know their tendencies and capabilities even better.
"Athletically, we are all kind of the same height and weight, and all have about the same speed," Schafer said. "Grant is a little bit faster than me and Max, but we all have about the same athletic metrics."
As similar as they are, Schafer says they have their subtle differences, in personality and game.
Each brings something special to the table. Here is Schafer's take on each.
On Grant Reed:
"Grant is funny. He likes to joke around. I feel like humor matters because it's very important to lighten the mood sometimes. It brings everyone closer. As far as playing linebacker, it is his hitting and ability to read plays that stands out. It always feels like he knows where the ball is going."
On Max Loos:
"Max is kind of like Grant in personality. He's funny. In football, his pass coverage is really good. Whenever I am going against him in practice, it is just really hard to get past him."
"With me, my best thing is my discipline as a linebacker. I know when the reverses and counters are coming. That's why I am a weak-side linebacker, because I can see those things."
On the non-senior of the group, Carlson:
"He has fit in pretty well. We all hang out with everyone; it doesn't matter what grade you're in. That's especially true of sports teams. With Jack, he is the biggest one and he's a big hitter."