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Raider football takes next step

Fans got an early taste of high school football last Saturday at the Raider football team's fourth annual Navy-White Spring Game at Newton Field. Over 100 incoming sophomores through seniors suited up for the game, which caps five days of spring practice allowed by the WIAA. The Navy team won for the second consecutive season, 28-14. Photos by Bob Burrows.1 / 3
The Navy team stops the White team on third and goal in the fourth quarter of last Saturday's annual spring football game at Newton Field. The White scored on the very next play to cut the Navy lead to 20-14, but the Navy scored a touchdown in the closing seconds to win, 28-14.2 / 3
Raider head football coach Adam Kowles signals a touchdown for the Navy team in the closing seconds of the fourth annual Navy-White Spring Game at Newton Field last Saturday. The touchdown made the final score 28-14 in favor of the Navy.3 / 3

It was barely seven months ago that the most successful football season in Hudson High School history came to an end. Last week, the book opened on a new year.

Over 100 members of the 2013 Raider football team took part in five days of WIAA-sanctioned practice, culminating with last Saturday's fourth annual Navy-White Spring Game at Newton Field.

Next year's sophomores through seniors suited up for the game with teams split into Navy and White. Each team was divided into three groups -- first team, second team and sophomores -- who went up against their counterparts, allowing each player to play about one-third of the game.

The Navy team scored a touchdown in the closing seconds to put the finishing touches on a 28-14 victory and set the stage for the 2013 season.

Under WIAA guidelines, high school teams are allowed five days of unrestricted contact each summer, ending no later than July 31. For the last four years, Hudson head coach Adam Kowles has chosen the first week after school ends to put the Raiders through their paces.

While most teams use their five days strictly for practice and drills, Kowles said ending the week with the Spring Game has proved to be a hit with both players and fans.

"It's hard to practice without a game at the end of the week," Kowles said. "This is a fun way to celebrate that week of practice and kick off the season; let them have some fun and feel the excitement of football again. That's what we try to do with this game."

The 2012 Raiders put together the longest, most successful season in school history. After going undefeated in Big Rivers Conference play to win their first outright BRC title with a record of 8-0, the Raiders advanced to the WIAA state semifinals for the first time in school history before losing to eventual state champion Arrowhead and finish the year with a record of 11-1.

Kowles compared last season's historic run with winning your previous game.

"Celebrate it and move on," he said. "Work on the next game. That's what we're doing with this season. The success of last year is behind us. It's time to look ahead."

He said this year's incoming players have high expectations for themselves.

"Especially the seniors who were part of last year's group as juniors," he noted. "They want to do better than the guys before them, and the sophomores coming in as juniors had a great year last year. They're ready for varsity."

Fall practice for the Raiders begins Aug. 5, and the Raiders kick off the 2013 season at perennial Minnesota powerhouse Minnetonka Friday, Aug. 23. They travel to Chanhassen Thursday, Aug. 29, before beginning defense of their BRC title at home against Rice Lake Friday, Sept. 6.

Bob Burrows
Bob Burrows has been sports editor at the River Falls Journal since 1996 and at the Hudson Star-Observer since 2009. Prior to joining the Journal, Burrows served as sports editor with Ledger Publications in Balsam Lake, Wis. A native of Bayonne, N.J. and a U.S. Navy veteran, Burrows attended Marquette University before completing his studies at UW-River Falls in 1992.
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