Local Notebook: RCTC football having a (spring) ball
After not getting a chance to play the 2020 fall season due to the pandemic, the RCTC football team has been able to get on the field this spring and will hold 10 practices.
Rochester Community and Technical College football coach Derrick Hintz is thrilled to be back on the field and so are his players.
Due to COVID, Hintz went nearly 18 months without coaching. He guided the Yellowjackets during the 2019 season, which ended that October. But when COVID-19 arrived, RCTC missed out on its chance to have spring practice for the first time ever a year ago and then the 2020 fall season was called off due to the pandemic.
"This is the longest stretch in 30 years that I haven't coached," Hintz said.
But that stretch is now over. RCTC is in the midst of holding spring football practice for the first time in school history.
"I think everyone involved is beyond happy," Hintz said. "The coaches are happy, the kids are happy."
RCTC has been practicing in helmets and shorts, no pads, and has completed four of its allotted 10 practices for the spring. Approximately 45 Yellowjackets have been practicing and another half dozen are waiting to be medically cleared.
There are also a number of returning players not currently in Rochester who may return in the fall.
"We've got guys who are busting their tails," Hintz said.
Hintz said the Yellowjackets have had a number of spirited practices and the players have been anxious to get on the field.
"We've got some hungry guys, we've got some hungry coaches," Hintz said. "That's the most accurate word I can use. They're hungry to compete."
Hintz believes the RCTC players have been able to bond very well this school year despite the pandemic. He believes that should help the team in the fall.
"COVID helped this team because since last August the only thing they've been able to do is hang out in apartments with each other," Hintz said. "No football, no competition. Usually they come in August first and two days later they're competing against each other and they really don't get a chance to know each other.
"So honestly, I think COVID helped this team get to where they're at," Hintz added. "When somebody does something good, everybody's celebrating. We haven't seen that in a while."
RCTC begins practice for the fall season on Aug. 1. Hintz said with all the potential returning players, he only plans on having about 30 incoming freshmen in the fall.
"That number seems low," Hintz said, "but these guys fit in really nice."
Stewartville's Will Tschetter and Kooper Vaughn of St. Charles have been named two of the 10 finalists for the 2021 Bob McDonald Award. The award is presented by the Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association and goes to the top senior boys basketball player for the season.
Tschetter is a 6-foot-8 senior forward who will play his college ball at Michigan. He finished third in the state in scoring this season, averaging 30.6 points per game and has a state-best 643 points scored. He is also among the top rebounders in the state averaging 11.3 per game. Tschetter is also a finalist for Mr. Basketball in Minnesota.
Vaughn is a 6-1 senior guard who led the state in both scoring (35.3 per game) and 3-pointers made (74). He scored 63 points in the season opener and then had a 59-point game in Section 1AA play. He is still undecided on his college.
Tschetter and Vaughn were also both selected to the Class AA MBCA Academic All State Team.
Other area boys basketball players named to the Academic All State Team include: In Class A, Hayfield's Ethan Slaathaug; in Class AA, Caledonia's Austin Klug, Andrew Kunelius and Sam Privet, and Plainview-Elgin-Millville's Conner Schumacher; and in Class AAA, Austin's Teyghan Hovland and Okey Okey.
Guy N. Limbeck is a sports writer for the Post Bulletin. His Local Notebook appears each Tuesday. He can be reached at email@example.com .