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Southeastern Minnesota connection Borgeson, Robley a winner for St. Thomas

Lourdes graduate Noah Borgeson and Caledonia graduate Brent Robley constitute two-thirds of the University of St. Thomas' starting defensive line.

Noah  Borgeson.jpg
Noah Borgeson (90) is in his fifth year playing football for the University of St. Thomas. Borgeson is a Rochester Lourdes graduate and a two-year starter with the Tommies.
Contributed / Daniel Borgeson
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(Editor's note: This article is part of the 2022 Pigskin Preview, which will appear in the Saturday, Sept. 3, Post Bulletin print edition. A PDF version of the Pigskin will be available at PostBulletin.com on Thursday, Sept. 1.)

It was their southeastern Minnesota roots and the storied high school football programs that they came from that first bound Noah Borgeson and Brent Robley together.

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Borgeson is a 2018 graduate of Rochester Lourdes. Robley graduated the same year from Caledonia. Together, they now occupy two of the three starting spots along the University of St. Thomas football team’s defensive line.

The now fifth-year college seniors came into their St. Thomas experience talking about just how good their high school football teams were. They especially did that with each other.

Caledonia won Class AA state championships in both of Robley’s years as a starter, in 2016 and ’17, part of a five-year run of state titles for the Warriors. Borgeson was a starter on Lourdes’ 2016 state title team. The Eagles also won it all in 2014 and 2018.

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Borgeson mug.jpg
Noah Borgeson

“Robley and I still talk about that, who’d win if our teams had played each other,” Borgeson said. “I’ve got to go with the purple (Lourdes’ color scheme is purple and gold).”

Robley, of course, has to go with the gold and black, Caledonia’s identifiers.

Robley mug.jpg
Brent Robley

“I didn’t really know Lourdes’ teams very well,” Robley said with a smile. “But I’m pretty confident that our best team would have beaten theirs.”

What they are absolutely sure about is that they’d have loved to have shared a football field then as much as they do now.

These two, who live in a St. Paul residence with four other St. Thomas football players, are cut from the same cloth: smart, tough, driven and devoted to their teammates and the game. Robley has plans to become a doctor, while Borgeson is eying a future in law. But if they could put those heady careers off and keep playing football for another 10 years, they likely would.

That makes this final season of football one they’ll cherish like none other. Borgeson is already feeling the urge to not let go, just a couple of weeks into training camp.

“I’m just trying to soak it all in and enjoy every last bit of football,” said Borgeson, whose older brother Kyle played football at St. John’s University and whose younger brother, Jordan, plays there now. “I love the sport and I love my teammates even more. Over the last five years, I’ve just enjoyed this so much.”

Brent Robley.jpg
Brent Robley (49) is a fifth-year player for the University of St. Thomas. A defensive lineman, the Caledonia graduate is in his second year as a starter.
Contributed / Daniel Borgeson

Robley is no different. He’s intent on making this final season a special one.

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“Right now, the team and I are just focusing on improving every day,” said Robley, whose Tommies finished 6-2 in the Division I non-scholarship Pioneer Football League last year, 7-3 overall. “We want to be the best we can be, individually and as a team.”

As similar as Robley and Borgeson are in their approach to football and life, they sure don’t look alike. One scan of a St. Thomas’ football program strikingly gives that way. Both of these defensive lineman weigh 260 pounds. But while nose guard Borgeson packs that on a 6-foot-2 frame, typical for a lineman, Robley is an aberration.

He goes just 5-foot-9, lining up at a defensive end spot that typically has its college players 6-3 or better, that extra height handy when trying to knock down passes.

Robley’s coaches would certainly prefer that he were taller, the benefits to length at defensive end obvious. But they start him for a reason. He’s really good — a relentless fighter, with great speed and strength.

“Robley is one of the most unique and impressive players we have,” Borgeson said. “He is so explosive. And he’s the strongest player on our team. Plus, he is so good at both the physical and mental parts of the game. He’s very smart. He knows what’s going on at all times.”

Robley shares similar respect for Borgeson the football player.

“He is very fast and physical,” Robley said. “And he never lets up, always giving his best effort. He’s really put in the work.”

But he speaks even more highly of Borgeson the person.

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“Noah is a really strong character person,” Robley said. “Plus, he’s very smart and very genuine. He’s just great to be around. He’s always there for you, ready to listen and help. He’s a rock of a person.”

They’ve got one last year to enjoy each other, this game and this team on a daily basis.

These two southeastern Minnesota kids, they’ll be doing it side by side.

More Pigskin Preview

Pigskin Preview '22 stories at PostBulletin.com this week:

Monday, August 29

• 6 a.m. — Rochester's Noah Borgeson, Caledonia's Brent Robley a dangerous connection at St. Thomas.

• 9:30 a.m. — RCTC's Johnathan Douglas, player profile.

• Noon — Southeastern Minnesota's "Dangerous Dozen": 12 high school players to watch this fall

• 2:30 p.m. — Mark your calendars: A game to circle on the schedule of every team in southeastern Minnesota.

Tuesday, August 30

6 a.m. — Section 1 9-Man season preview

8:30 a.m. — Section 1AAAAA season preview

10:45 a.m. — Section 1AAA season preview

12:30 p.m. — Section 1A season preview

2:45 p.m. — Section 1AAAA season preview

7 p.m. — Section 1AA/2AA season preview

Wednesday, August 31

6 a.m. — Player Profile: Fillmore Central running back Bryce Corson

8:30 a.m. — Player Profile: Rochester Mayo lineman Ethan Kramer

11 a.m. — Player Profile: Goodhue WR Adam Poncelet

1 p.m. — Player Profile: Stewartville lineman Peyton Byrne

3 p.m. — Player Profile: Kasson-Mantorville lineman Reese Tripp

Thursday, September 1

6 a.m. — Player Profile: Kingsland tight end Mason Kolling

9 a.m. — Player Profile: Chatfield defensive back Drew Schindler

Noon — Minnesota Vikings new-look offense hopes to be high-flying

1:30 p.m. — Minnesota Vikings defense getting a much-needed shakeup

Pat has been a Post Bulletin sports reporter since 1994. He covers Rochester John Marshall football, as well as a variety of other southeastern Minnesota football teams. Among my other southeastern Minnesota high school beats are girls basketball, boys and girls tennis, boys and girls track and field, high school and American Legion baseball, volleyball, University of Minnesota sports (on occasion) and the Timberwolves (on occasion). Readers can reach Pat at 507-285-7723 or pruff@postbulletin.com.
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