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Eagles about to embark on new football voyage

Aberdeen Central High School head football coach Scott Svendsen, top right, talks to his players before the start of practice Wednesday evening at Swisher Field. The Eagles open their season by hosting Douglas at 5 p.m. Friday at Swisher Field. Photo by John Davis taken 8/18/2021

A new era of Aberdeen Central football is about to kickoff.

While the Golden Eagles return some key pieces from a year ago, this season has a much different feel to it for a couple of big reasons.

One is the addition of new head coach Scott Svendsen. The other is a whole different class of competition as Central has moved from Class 11 AAA down to Class 11AA. The Eagles only play one Sioux Falls team this year, hosting Roosevelt the final week of the regular season.

“Everybody is talking about the classification deal. I think it’s a good move for Aberdeen, I think it’s a good move for our kids,” Svendsen said, noting that the Sioux Falls and Rapid City schools are their own entity. “It’s been apples playing oranges instead of apples playing apples. We’re where we should be.”

The Eagles have been busy learning to do things a completely different way on the gridiron. Svendsen, who most recently coached in Texas, is installing an entire new system on offense.

“I keep telling the kids, there’s growing pains. The system we’re putting in is a completely different system than you’ve probably ever known,” he said. “It’s like learning Spanish. You have to pick up the lingo and the language, and once you get through that part and you pick it up, it’s like ‘Oh, this is easy.’ As long as we’re stepping forward, that’s our goal.”

One thing is for certain this fall, Central will be a threat to score every time it snaps the ball. That’s because senior Sam Rohlfs is back at quarterback for the Eagles.

“Every time we step on the field I think we’ll have the best athlete in the state on the field. He gives you a lot of different things,” Svendsen said. “He’s a very humble kid who has a lot to offer leadership wise. He’s very talented athletically, but mentally he’s a strong competitor. That’s what I’m most impressed with is his mentality. Nothing seems to rattle him.”

Rohlfs will have plenty of help this season. Central has a variety of players returning on both sides of the ball.

Svendsen points out several individuals who will play major roles for the Eagles this season.

“Colin Huff is going to play defense, but we’ve got some offensive packages where we’re going to utilize his talents and abilities,” Svendsen said.

Jacob Merxbauer is coming off a solid track and field season this past spring.

“Track really helped him last year,” Svendsen noted. “He’s really grown and gotten really confident.”

Svendsen also recognized a pair of linemen.

“Brady Rohrbach on our offensive line has been pretty solid. Montana Parmely is another kid that is playing defensive end for us who just gets better every week.”

Then there is the linebacking corps.

“I think the strength in our defensive unit is our linebackers,” Svendsen said. “You’ve got (Jacob) Waltman, (Ashton) Lenling, and you’ve got (Tayden) Brownson. Those guys are pretty solid for us.”

A vast majority of those aforementioned players are seniors. They are the individuals who are helping to set the tone for the Eagles as the season gets underway.

“The whole deal is this, we’ve got good leadership on our team. That leadership has done a great job in keeping everybody together and keeping us going forward,” Svendsen said. “I’ve always said you’re only as strong as the leadership on your team and I feel like our kids that are seniors are really strong leaders for our team.”

Central kicks off its season by playing Douglas for the first time in school history. The game begins at 5 p.m. at Swisher Field as part of the Hub City Bowl. (Aberdeen Roncalli hosts Webster following that contest).

While the Eagles are excited about their classification and also their returning cast of playmakers, Svendsen said there are only a couple of things that he is currently focused on.

“Here’s two things that we can control and that we’ve talked about. We’re going to come out to practice every day. We’re going to get better. We can control that,” Svendsen said. “Then we’re not going to look past any opponent. We’re going to respect that opponent. We’re going to learn how to take it one game at a time. There’s no sense looking at the championship game when you haven’t played these other games. That’s our mentality.”

The new journey is about to begin.

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