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Nedrose football looking to improve on ’20 finish

Ryan Ladika/MDN Cardinals quarterback Josh Kalamaha (left) prepares to throw the ball during a preseason practice at Nedrose High School.

The Nedrose High School Cardinals’ football squad will have plenty of room to grow throughout the 2021 fall season, beginning with, arguably, the most important position on the field.

Junior Josh Kalamaha, a former wide receiver and cornerback for the redbirds, will take the leap this year as the starting quarterback for the varsity squad. The first snap he takes from under center will be his first at the position above the junior varsity level.

“He’s put a lot of work in and we’re looking for him to be able to make the throws and the reads, as well as run the ball a little bit and help us out,” head coach Tommy Weidler said.

Kalamaha has spent the last two seasons as the leader of the junior varsity offense, in addition to the time he spent at wideout and cornerback with the varsity team. The versatility and athleticism he demonstrated at his other positions under Weidler’s watchful eye led his coach to trust that he could handle the signal-calling duties on the varsity squad.

To ensure that Kalamaha is ready for his newest challenge, Weidler has been working with the quarterback on building a solid foundation with the fundamentals of the position.

“We’ve been working with him mechanically, on throwing the ball,” Weidler said. “His footwork is a big one we worked on this summer, and then understanding what the defense is doing, and what they’re going to give us as far as where the ball should go.”

The next step for Kalamaha is, after the snap, looking for matchups that will prove advantageous for his offense. If none are present in any one play, he possesses the athleticism to create offense by running the ball himself.

Around Kalamaha, Weidler has been working with some of the younger players on the offensive line to set the quarterback up for success starting with the team’s first-week matchup against Des Lacs-Burlington.

“We have some guys who aren’t quite as experienced as we’ve had in the past,” Weidler said. “We’re getting caught up to speed with things. Up front, we’ve been really working on understanding where we’re going, where we’re trying to run the ball, and who we’re blocking in pass protection. We’re trying to get Kalamaha reps to see and understand everything behind the offensive line.”

Senior Caleb Walker will be a key factor Weidler will be looking for production from on the offensive line as he returns from an ACL injury. Also complementing Kalamaha will the likes of third-year running back Cameron Bailey, senior wide receiver Joe Roberts and 2020 Class A All-State Second-Team tight end Mitch Heinert.

As the first week of the 2021 campaign neared, Weidler was pleased with what he saw from his team through official two-week preseason period. There is always room for improvement, most notably the ever-present need to become more physical on both sides of the ball, but the squad entered the season-opener with a strong work ethic and a hunger to continue to get better, according to the sixth-year head coach.

“Defensively, we need to tackle better,” he said. “That’s a big one, just playing more physical. And then offensively, everything always starts up front, so on the offensive line, we just have to continue to grow and be physical and sharp.”

After a 14-12 loss at the hands of Des Lacs-Burlington to start the season on Aug. 20, the Cardinals are slated to face Stanley at home on Sept. 10 and New Town on the road Sept. 17. After that, Nedrose will host Velva for a non-district contest on Sept. 24. On Oct. 1, the Cardinals will do battle with the Rugby Panthers at home before wrapping up the regular season on the road against Bishop Ryan on Oct. 15.

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