Danecdotes: PL grads, lifelong friends teammates at Bethel
Pequot Lakes graduates Ollie Erholtz and Connor Davich have been best friends since they were in third grade. The two grew up as neighbors and were teammates on the Patriot football team.
Since graduating, they have continued as teammates of the Royals football team at Bethel University in St. Paul.
"It was sweet coming into a new program, not knowing what to expect and having someone from home - not only someone from home, but my best friend," Erholtz said. "It made it a lot easier to transition into camp. There is always that comfort piece that comes along with having one of your best buddies with you. It has been a blast to continue on with what we were doing at Pequot and play at the next level."
The Bethel University juniors are in their second season together with the Royals - where Erholtz plays on the defensive line and Davich serves as a wide receiver.
Though the two are in an ideal situation now - best friends playing a sport they love at the college level - both Davich and Erholtz admitted this was not something they had planned before graduating in 2015. In fact, Erholtz spent the fall season after graduation at Army basic training, and Davich spent his first year of college at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul.
"I wasn't exactly enjoying St. Thomas as much as I wanted to, and Ollie ended up texting me in the middle of summer and said, 'I think I'm going to go to Bethel and play football, and you should come with,'" Davich said. "I thought that would be a pretty good idea.
"It's kind of a dream come true. Not a lot of people get a chance to do this kind of thing, so it's a cool thing."
In their second season on the Bethel football team, the two are acclimating to the speed of the college game but admit that it was a process, especially since many of their teammates graduated from schools larger than Pequot Lakes.
"People really undersell D-III football, but the MIAC (Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) truly is one of the most competitive D-III conferences in the country," Erholtz said. "I think a lot of guys on the team have that ability because they were playing at Osseo, Edina and all of those big schools. I feel like they could match the speed of the game a little better. We came from a smaller 3A school where if you were physical and have the drive, you could be successful. It was really a step up. We had to learn a lot of technique and things about the game."
The 2017 season has been a bit of a disappointment for the Royals. They are currently 3-4 on the season, and lost two games by one score.
"We are a really talented team that has lost some really close games," Davich said. "I don't think our record exactly depicts how talented we are."
While the two do their best to support and encourage each other, Davich and Erholtz feel that the whole team does a good job of encouraging each other, which makes them want to give their best for the team that much more.
"All of our goals are very team-oriented. If we are not the starters, we want to sharpen the starters. If we are starting, we want to perform to the best of our abilities," Erholtz said. "Next year, we want to win the MIAC. Based on the talent we have and the program we run, that is an attainable goal, but it will be tough given the competition we have."
However the remainder of their college football careers go, the two will have their hometown in the back of their minds.
"It's just good to represent Pequot in a positive way, so we'll just keep doing our thing and thinking about Pequot every once in awhile," Davich said.
Davich, Erholtz and the Bethel University football team will face St. Thomas at 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28.