This week, I was able to chat with a program that the state of Minnesota might not know much about being their newness in the Minnesota high school football landscape. The team name is Academy Force, broken up of eight…
This week, I was able to chat with a program that the state of Minnesota might not know much about being their newness in the Minnesota high school football landscape. The team name is Academy Force, broken up of eight schools from White Bear Lake to Woodbury. You are about to find out what head coach Noah Dombrovski is building in his 2nd year with the Academy Force football program.
Eight Schools Are Involved in this Football Program
Here is the list: St Croix Prep (Stillwater), New Life Academy (Woodbury), Twin Cities Academy (St. Paul), Great River School (St. Paul), Gentry Academy (St. Paul), Mounds Park Academy (St. Paul), Math and Science Academy (St. Paul/Woodbury) Liberty Classical Academy (White Bear Lake). All of those schools build the Academy Force program across the East Metro. In total numbers, Noah stated that this new program has grown from 12 players to 30-35 players showing up at workouts this summer and he hopes to get the player count up to 40 players here soon. You will see 5-8 players playing on both sides of the ball, which is a chance programs like Academy Force can offer. In my opinion, it pushes the kid This co-op program was built from scratch just a 3 years ago so to have the numbers growing this fast is something to get excited about.
Academy Force will be lead by senior captains Will North and Tommy Hamm who both play offensive line and are 3 year starters for the Academy Force program. Their strong and athletic ability, should pave the way for junior Jake Aga, who was the Force’s leading rusher last year. Aga is coming off a great off-season so expect him to be the Force’s leader again at tailback. At quarterback, there will be a a battle for the Force with two way player Marcellus Johnson and Elijah Paulson. Johnson took most of the snaps last year and has a great dual threat ability, but expect the work ethic of Paulson to get some looks this summer and fall.
Although they have lost Ryan Grill, their tackling machine to graduation they still bring back defensive end, Terrance Rhodes Jr., who was all district honorable mention last year. Terrance was great on the defensive line last year, and should be even better in his senior year as senior year of football is always when you see the most growth of your players. At linebacker, they return Marcellus Johnson who will be the work horse of this defense and has excellent acceleration from the film I’ve seen of him at Quarterback. He has a great play-maker ability and has shown excellent growth over this off season, look for him to be the leader of this defense this year. In the secondary, look for Peyton Gremmels to be the key player in this secondary. “He was a nice surprise last year” Coach Dombrovski told me, look for this now Sophomore to show even more potential and growth this year.
Recruiting the Kids to Come Out for the Team
“It’s definitely easier now that I’ve been in the program for a season, but I feel that our approach to running the program has helped us garner more interest from kids” said Coach Dombrovski. He stated you need to coach the kids and make the feel like they are part of the program and are respected as people, which is something that I feel gets overlooked with the larger football programs. The current players have also done a great job of recruiting their friends to come out for the team which has helped grow the player numbers.
Friday Night Lights
Before beginning his head coaching career at Academy Force, Coach Dombrovski spent three years at White Bear Lake as an assistant, one year at East Grand Forks (MN), and prior to taking over at Academy Force, spent a season as an assistant at the college level at Concordia-St. Paul. He stated his most favorite thing about the high school ranks is taking kids from all skill levels and having it be his main job to make sure they improve and have a great experience. His quote that stuck with me was “You also can’t beat the experience of playing on a Friday night under the lights!” which is a very relatable quote for anyone that’s ever coached or played high school football on a Friday night in the Fall.
In any sport you play, in anything you do, you have someone that you look up to. Dombrovski was able to share with me to his biggest mentors were Larry Herm his head coach at Foley High School (MN) and Dale Lennon, his head coach during his playing days for the Fighting Sioux at the University of North Dakota. Both of these guys stood out as coaches that knew what it took to build a successful program. Herm, was the head coach at Foley High School for 27 seasons won the 1998 State Championship, 2 state playoff appearances, and 4 section runner up finishes. Lennon, was the head coach from 1999-2007 at North Dakota and played in 2 Division II Championships, and had a 90-24 record for North Dakota. In my book, Coach Dombrovski has some great mentors in those two coaches right there.
New Field, New Blood
The Academy Force football program plays their games at St. Croix Prep in Stillwater. Their field there is brand new from last year and this year they will be playing under the lights for the first time this season, as lights were installed here recently. Their next step is getting stadium seats and a press box. If anybody is interested, please contact Athletic Director, Rich Dippel at St Croix Prep if you want to donate to the Academy Force football program!
The Goals in Football and in Life
“Our main goal every year is to develop great relationships and memories with our players as well as helping them develop as a person and a player” said Coach Dombrovski after I asked him about some team goals for the Force this year. The other goals set are to compete and win some games this year, but the other big goal for the Force is have the players grow as football players and grow as people and hoping that they have a good experience while doing so.
You can follow the Force’s season on Twitter at @forcefootballmn.