The season didn’t start the way Lakeville South senior Hank English planned. After expecting to see a lot of time at defensive back and running back, English started the season healthy, but on the sidelines. Despite his unexpected start to…
The season didn’t start the way Lakeville South senior Hank English planned. After expecting to see a lot of time at defensive back and running back, English started the season healthy, but on the sidelines. Despite his unexpected start to the season, English didn’t get down. Now, he is getting ready to play college football.
The football season was such a good experience for English that it began to change his college plans.
“I play three sports, and I have never played on a team that was such a family and a brotherhood,” English said. “In a single season – it happened within a couple of weeks in June. We realized we had something special. That influenced my decision on if I wanted to play college football or college baseball. I realized I wanted a family like this for the next four years.”
The Cougars completed a 10-2 season, including a trip to the state semi-finals.
“Offensively, obviously, our strength was our different style of offense and running game,” English said. “We had athletic guys ranging from our guards to our running backs. We had speed that gave us an advantage on the offensive side. Defensively, we had a ton of people who didn’t mind getting their hands dirty. Our defense was full of guys who were full of grit and wanted to play real men football.”
When game one rolled around, English expected to start.
“I started all summer in everything we did and then got to the first two games and got a total of maybe ten snaps combined. Finally, I was given a shot in the third game against Eastview. I ended up blocking a field goal and played a good game, and things took off from there.”
English’s season might not have turned around if it wasn’t for his approach to his demotion.
“It wasn’t easy – going into that first game, I didn’t hear my name with the starting defense. I was on the bench. You work all summer at something and picture yourself in that first game of your senior year, and you are not playing. It hit home and hit hard. It was hard to stay positive those first couple of games, but I have always been taught never to give up and never quit. I kept hoping for a chance and finally got one.”
At halftime of the second game, the coaches approached English.
“The coach came up to me and said ‘strap it up. You are going out in the second half’. I was ready for my chance. The second half of that game and then the third game were the turning point.”
The season was a turning point in English’s athletic career.
“It was a season that changed my life. I was given the opportunity to play a position I thought I could succeed at – it was a great season, and one I had never experienced before.”
After the first two games, English started at corner and was the first running back off the bench.
“I am a pretty athletic, mobile guy,” English – who, for the last two years, has led a church group of second graders – said. I am not very big, but I have good footwork and can keep up with guys running routes. Playing sports year-round made me athletic and mobile. I am also a wrestler, which helped me with my tackling. I could be physical, but I knew I had the speed to make up for it if I got beat at the line of scrimmage. I was usually on the strong side where we thought the other team would run toward or throw screens toward – where there would be more tackling.”
Having to start the season on the bench helped English during the wrestling season too.
“I have three guys around my weight who all placed at State, so this season was about taking what I could get and fitting in when a spot would open up,” English told northstarfootballnews.com. “I would wrestle anywhere from 145 to 160. I had a big win against Lakeville North this year at 152. At Sections, I wrestled 160 – giving up fifteen pounds to my opponents, but it was about sacrificing for the team.”
Although the season might be a wash, English was planning on playing baseball this spring.
“I have played baseball since I was young. I have always loved baseball. I always thought I wanted to play baseball in college. We have been through a lot of baseball coaches at Lakeville South since I have been playing, so I lost some of my passion for baseball. I still wanted to go out on a high note my senior year. I am a catcher but can pitch and play any position. I bat leadoff and hit .400 last year.”
Because of his experiences in his last two seasons, and the interest he received from his first choice of schools, football became his sport of choice.
“I am going to Wisconsin-La Crosse for football. I went to a baseball tryout there. That was my shot, but there weren’t many coaches there. I had emailed a couple of the coaches and never got any response. It didn’t feel right. One day I got a message from the defensive coordinator from La Crosse, and he wanted me to visit. I thought it was meant to be. It was the school I wanted to go to, and the program I wanted to play for reached out to me first.”
Family played the most significant role in English’s college decision.
“My parents both grew up in La Crosse. I have family there, and I love the campus. I was in contact with St. Olaf and a couple of other schools for baseball and St. Scholastica for football, but it was always La Crosse.”
It was always going to be La Crosse, but especially after the first game of the season, it wasn’t always going to be football. Primarily because of his attitude, Hank English not only was a major contributor to a ten-win team, he will be playing football next season too.