'It’s my job to get the job done': Chatfield's Sam Backer carrying on the family tradition
Chance Backer was a standout football player on both sides of the ball for Chatfield. Now, it's younger brother Sam's turn. The sophomore is leading the Gophers in rushing, and his competitive spirit has spread throughout the entire team.
CHATFIELD — Sam Backer didn't walk into Chatfield High School like a typical freshman. Everyone knew he was going to be a football player.
His older brother, Chance, was a star linebacker and running back for the Gophers. Sam was destined to follow in his footsteps.
But a role like that isn't easy. Chance is tough, gritty and hard-working. What you see is what you get with the Backers. They're straight-shooters. Chance would get up early in the morning for one-mile runs. Guess who was forced to roll out of bed and do it too?
You guessed it: Sam.
"Last year, I would call it, a, 'Let's see what he can do' year,'" Sam Backer said. "It was hard, but having a brother like Chance, there was peer pressure. He’d get on my butt a lot. Having that older brother chewing you out when you do something wrong, it was hard but I enjoyed it. It really helped."
It didn't take long for Sam to make an impact. He rushed for 1,429 yards last year, and Chance was just as dominant on both sides of the ball. But 2020 is a different season. Chance is now off to Winona State University to play football, but his work ethic and competitiveness didn't end when he went out the door. It's Sam's turn to carry that mantle, even though he's just a sophomore.
"I respect our seniors and I listen to them," Backer said. "They helped build that culture and I’m younger, but I’ll take the leadership role for my own age group and the kids who are younger than me. I want us to work harder than everyone else."
Backer has helped carry the load for the Gophers in the early going. Sixth-ranked Chatfield is off to a 3-0 start heading into Friday's top-10 showdown against No. 1 Caledonia, at Chatfield. Backer has rushed for 512 yards in three games, including five touchdowns in the Gophers' past two games.
"I have a bigger role this year," Backer said. "It’s my job to get the job done."
Chatfield has built a culture around hard work and winning. Winning on the field is obviously No. 1. But the Gophers also compete in everything. They race. They have kicking competitions. They all try to punt the ball the farthest. It's everything.
And then when the Friday Night Lights turn on, the Gophers want nothing more than to pound their opponents into oblivion.
"We all just want to win in everything," Backer said. "I think we’re more competitive than anybody else. It’s so fun. I’m glad I’m with these guys that want to win. It’s the worst thing ever when a couple of guys want to win and everyone else just doesn't care. That's not us. We all want to win."
Backer and Chatfield have their chance to knock off Caledonia on Friday. No other program embodies winning like Carl Fruechte's Warriors.
No. 1 Caledonia vs. No. 6 Chatfield is one of the most anticipated games of the year.
"Oh, the entire town is just waiting for this," Backer said. "We’re so pumped for this game. If we win, I’ll be so happy. I don’t care if I score a touchdown or not. I just want to beat them."
Chance set the standard for the Backer boys. Sam is living up to that high bar. And he wants to pass it one day. Because winning is the main thing Sam Backer cares about.
"Sam is a really good back," Chatfield coach Jeff Johnson said on the Post Bulletin Sports Podcast. "We're pretty blessed that the Backer boys moved to Chatfield like five years ago. that was a blessing for us. they're good, tough kids. They love the sport of football, no doubt about it."