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ROCORI football coach hosts Central Minnesota Football

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ROCORI Head Football Coach James Herberg hosted the second annual Central Minnesota Football Academy earlier this week.

The camp is specialized for defensive players and it allows athletes to go through in-depth defensive drills as well as get coached by some of the top defensive college coaches in the Midwest.

This academy started Monday with testing combine numbers, so the players could have more updated stats for their Hudl accounts. Then, Tuesday and Wednesday included many different drills for defensive backs, linebackers and defensive line players.

“It’s great to see the growth of this camp from year one to year two,” Herberg said. “I’m so grateful to have such amazing college coaches come and share their drills and thoughts to these high school athletes.”

Due to high school league rules, Herberg couldn’t coach at the camp, but he is the founder and coordinator of the camp and makes sure it runs smoothly. He said he’s fortunate to have different coaches from Gustavus, Bethel, St. John’s and neighboring states.

Over the last two years, Herberg has had athletes from 19 different schools participate in the drills. Most of them are from Central Minnesota, but there are a handful from the Twin Cities. Even though ROCORI has the majority of players at the camp, there’s athletes from Sauk Rapids-Rice, Cathedral, Hutchinson, Holdingford, Little Falls, Howard Lake and other surrounding areas.

Defensive backs run through a drill at the Central Minnesota Football Academy camp Wednesday, July 13, 2022, at ROCORI High School in Cold Spring.

For Herberg, he wanted to have a camp that was near Cold Spring, so athletes in the Central Minnesota area could have an easier time participating while juggling other sports in the summer and summer jobs.

“I want our athletes to be multi-sport athletes, so this allows them to attend the camp and then play their baseball game that night or go to a practice later in the evening,” Herberg said. “There’s a lot of great camps around the state, but I think it’s great to have a camp in your backyard for these local athletes.”

Many players come to the camp ready to get some practice in as well as learn from college coaches to help their own teams this upcoming fall. These players are bringing drills and different techniques with them from these last three days that can help the defense as a whole for these different schools.

ROCORI's Jacob Lapou holds a block at the Central Minnesota Football Academy camp Wednesday, July 13, 2022, at ROCORI High School in Cold Spring.

ROCORI upcoming senior Jacob Lopau was one of the players at the camp and he learned a lot from the coaches and different players. Last year, he played offensive line, but will be looked at to play some defensive line this season.

“This camp helped me with learning more about the defensive line,” Lopau said. “It also helped me understand the mindset of a defensive lineman when I’m on the offensive line during a game.”

Lopau wants to teach some of the younger ROCORI players some techniques when the fall season starts up in August. This camp makes him excited to play football because there’s about a month left in the summer before the first practice starts for the Spartans and the rest of the Minnesota football programs.

Lineman run through a drill at the Central Minnesota Football Academy camp Wednesday, July 13, 2022, at ROCORI High School in Cold Spring.

Herberg wants to see this camp continue to grow because he thinks it’s vital to focus on defense. There are plenty of offensive stats thrown around after each Friday night game, but the defense doesn’t get as many memorable stats.

The ROCORI head coach is hoping to change that mentality for the future because there’s a common phrase that defense wins championships and Herberg fully embraces that philosophy.