Helmets are on – so are iPads

Many folks are now using iPads.

I’m not. Milaca Head Football Coach Randy Johnson is.

And, he’s loving it.

I spotted Johnson at Monday’s late-morning, opening-day practice, moving around between groups of players who were hustling to make an impression during various drills. In Johnson’s hands was a sleek-looking iPad.

iPads are becoming an important teaching and learning tool in school classrooms, including those at Milaca Schools.

And, also on the sports scene.

“With an iPad we can take video of individual players on the field,” said Johnson. “With this tool, we can give players immediate feedback on skills we are working on.

“We can show the video to the players on the spot. And, we can also upload these film clips on our online program to allow players to evaluate practice sessions at home. This is something that assistant coach Jeremy Mikla has really helped with behind the scenes to find the right applications for this and make  an online video that every player can access. With the size of the iPad screen, the player can see exactly what the coaches are seeing.

“I love this technology!”


Opening drills

Something else Johnson and his assistants liked a lot was Monday’s opening practice sessions.

“First of all, the weather was beautiful – not too warm with a nice breeze,” said Johnson. “The players showed up with an excellent attitude and were ready to go to work.

“The excitement of football is always there the first days of practice and coaches hope that it carries over as drills and workouts get tougher.”

Drills this week are stressing the team’s main offensive sets, defensive fronts and adjustments to formations.

“With the complexity of the game continuing to change, we seem to spend more time on team preparation during the first days without pads and then catch up on the individual technique later in the week when we can put on the pads,” said Johnson. “We need to really work on getting some of our young players some reps on both offense and defense.”

Johnson said that about 50 players in grades 10-12 reported, along with about 25 ninth-graders. And, most were in good shape.

“Without pads on, we looked pretty good Monday,” he said. “We have another group of hard-working young men.”


New section

Milaca’s football team will move into a newly-aligned section this season. And, while its old Section 7AAA was pretty tough, the new Section 5AAA looks to be tougher. Milaca won the 7AAA title and advanced to the Class AAA State Tournament in 2010.

Section 5AAA will also include Foley, Annandale, Mora, Pine City and St. Cloud Cathedral. Pine City was also previously in Section 7AAA.

There were nine schools in the old Section 7AAA and now just six in Section 5AAA. That’s because a new “super class” was created for the state’s largest schools, resulting in a reduction of schools in most sections.

When the 5AAA Playoff begins in late October the top two seeded teams will draw a bye.

“It will be tough to move through this section,” said Johnson. “If we survive our tough regular-season schedule, we will be ready for what we’ll face in the section playoff.”

Milaca opens at Granite Ridge Conference foe Becker Thursday, Aug. 30, at 7 p.m. The Wolves will take part in a scrimmage at St. Cloud Apollo Saturday, Aug. 25. The scrimmage, which will also include Little Falls and South St. Paul, will run from 8:30-11:30 a.m.


Showcase set

The 2012 Milaca Wolves Football Extravaganza is Thursday, Aug. 23, at Claffy Field. It’s a chance to view Milaca football at all levels, and have a lot of fun.

On the field, players in grades 4-6 from the Milaca Youth Football Association will display their skills in scrimmages at 5:10 p.m. The ninth grade team will take over at 6:10, followed by the junior varsity at 6:45 and the varsity at 7:15.

Off the field, the National Guard climbing wall and an obstacle course will be set up. There will be raffle prizes (drawings at 6:45 and 7:45), concessions and Wolves football apparel will be available for purchase. Johnson reports that area businesses have donated many great prizes and gift cards.

There will be an equipment checkout for players in seventh and eighth grade from 5-6, with a razzle game for those players at 6.

The event is open to the public and there is no admission charge.