Plenty of awards and thank-yous were given at the Pequot Lakes football team's year-end banquet on Monday, Nov. 12, but the coaching staff wanted to give extra attention to the 12 players who now part ways with the team.
"You led us," head coach Bill Magnuson told his senior athletes. "You did exactly what we asked and you did it with passion. You did it with love for each other. You built this family and kept us together. That is character."
Coming off a 2017 season that saw the Patriots reach the state semifinals, this year's - after seeing a large senior core graduate and head coach Chip Lohmiller resign - finished the season with an overall record of 5-5, culminating with a 54-33 loss to Perham in the section semifinals.
"We started with change," Magnuson said. "We changed the offense, the defense, how we practiced. Sometimes, when change comes like that, it can be difficult. Through the leadership of our 12 seniors, they bonded to what we were trying to do.
"We lost three games to the top three seeds in the section by a total of seven points. We were definitely there. For the first time, this program beat Fergus Falls, a 4A team. That is a great accomplishment."
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"You led us. You did exactly what we asked and you did it with passion. You did it with love for each other. You built this family and kept us together. That is character." - Patriot head coach Bill Magnuson to his senior athletes.
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At the beginning of the banquet Magnuson thanked school administration, staff, student managers, assistant coaches and the wives and families of those coaches. He also had his team show its gratitude to the parents who have helped the team along the way by handing out roses to each player's parents in attendance.
"That is just one small way to say 'thank you' for all you do," he said. "We appreciate the support. We know what that laundry smells like sometimes, and we understand how many trips into town you have made over the years and how many meals you have prepared."
The award for best defensive lineman with to Zach Jorgens, while twin brothers Tim and Luke Ryan were named top defensive perimeter player and most improved defensive player, respectively.
On offense, Myca Reynolds was given the award for best offensive lineman. The top offensive perimeter player was receiver Dylin Ackerman and quarterback Cale Wolf was named most improved.
The award for top special teams player went to kick returner Bode Magnuson.
Ackerman was also given the Patriot Pride Award. Award-winners were voted on by the team.
"I can't say enough things about (Ackerman) and what he brought to the program," Magnuson said. "I am extremely proud of this young man, the growth he has made and what he represents. This award totally fits him."
Ackerman and Tim Ryan also received All-Midwest Red District honors, while Bode Magnuson, Wolf and Marcus Klein each earned an all-district honorable mention.
Ackerman and Bode Magnuson also received district player of the year honors at defensive back and wide receiver, respectively.
Nine Patriot athletes - Josh Lelwica, Braden Holmes, Jack Benson, Garett Griffin, Tyler Hidde, Bode Magnuson, Ryan Monahan, Alex Morgan and Carter Sjoblad - earned all-district academic honors as well, which is awarded to letterwinners who have a GPA of 3.75 or higher.
"What I am going to remember about this team is embracing the change and playing with passion," Magnuson said "I am very proud of the resiliency of this team. We talk a lot about adversity and how it comes to you in life. You have to tackle it head-on or sometimes you just quit. These guys never quit."
Before thanking everyone in attendance once again, and reminding underclassmen that roughly 270 days remained before football practice began again, the Patriot head coach took one more opportunity to praise the seniors, this time for their demeanor off the football field.
"These awards will collect dust eventually," he said. "What people will remember you for is not that award or the score of a game. They are going to remember you and what you brought to this community."