Few people are excited for a Monday, but Adam Extrand is.
The first-year head coach of the Brainerd Warriors is eager to get his players on the field to build confidence and hopefully collect the program's first victory.
The second-year team features 26 players returning with game experience. Extrand hopes to parlay that into early momentum.
"I'm excited for Monday," Extrand said. "We've been practicing now for three weeks. Once Monday hits, the games will start coming and the players will be excited for Monday. That's going to carry on for the week and then if we can start getting some confidence it's going to carry on through the season."
Building confidence will be key. The Warriors finished their inaugural season as a Minnesota State High School League program without a win.
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- Head coach: Adam Extrand, first year
- 2018 record: 0-13
- Captains: Jayce Schroeder, Luke Harting, Gabe Smith, Jacob Drietz
- Assistant coach: Zach Cadwell, Pete Sieks
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"It's going to be huge because I don't think we have any," Extrand said. "If you talk to some of the seniors who have been around for awhile like Jayce Schroeder, in four years he's never experienced a win. Looking at the schedule there are some teams that we think we can compete with this year.
"Again, when we go to some of the teams like St. Michael-Albertville, it will be a struggle. I think that we're going to give them much more of a game than we did last year."
Extrand hopes a defensive approach helps the Warriors secure that first win.
That will start with junior Greg Peterson in net.
"I got to know Greg a little bit during the hockey season because I also coach hockey," Extrand said. "He was one of our junior varsity goalies. He's been working hard. And just talking with the other coaches who were here last year, they're seeing significant improvement."
Senior Luke Harting will be the guidepost for the defenders. Harting is one of seven seniors returning from last year.
"Luke Harting will be our anchor back there with his experience," Extrand said. "We've moved one defender to an attack position, but we'll be much better, I think, starting out. At least that's what I'm hearing from the kids and the coaches compared to last year, just because of the weather for one.
"We have some kids that have really taken on the leadership role to help with the younger players and really pushing them to get better. We have a lot of great leadership with our captains and beyond."
Extrand has 45 players on the roster for varsity and junior varsity. Of the 11 juniors on the roster, eight are returning. Three of the five sophomores are returners and six of the 11 freshmen played last season. Also back are eighth graders Tanner Karsnia and Logan Sawyer.
Also returning are coaches Zach Cadwell and Pete Sieks.
One key change this season is Brainerd's offensive philosophy.
"From what I'm seeing right now, they started a new offensive system, right at the end of the season last year," Extrand said. "I think there was a lot of confusion. It's a set system and there is some read and react to it. But because we've been working on it the last week and a half I think we're going to have way more success.
"The key is to be playing well enough defensively so that we can get on the offense. It's such a game of possession. I think last year they spent an awful lot of time in the defensive zone so that's something we've been focusing on. Better defense will lead to more time in the offensive zone.
"Then it's about the guys really understanding the play we're trying to run or the system we're trying to run. I think it's really coming along."
Despite all the changes, there's a rumbling among the team. There is an excitement that this year will be better than the last.
"They've talked about some games that the boys really feel they can win just based on their experience from last year," Extrand said. "I think the kids are really, really excited. In talking with the captains, they've made the comment many times that we are far ahead of where they ended last year-as far as understanding the game, understanding the system and the skill level. I've also heard that from the coaches as well. We're just way ahead and a lot of that has to do with the better weather and a better plan coming into the season and having different expectations.
"I'm not taking credit for that. That's what Zach and Pete have done and they've been fantastic.
"We have some really big, strong, athletic guys playing defense. Offensively, in my mind, we have some speed. We have athletes and we have kids that care and want to win. They want to be a part of building a program that Brainerd can be proud of. They want to look back in 10 or 15 years and understand that they were part of the foundation of where the program is going to go."
Seniors: Alex Engholm, Denny Busbey, Hunter Burmeister, Jayce Schroeder, Luke Harting (defense), Fletcher DeRosier, Gabriel Smith, Benjamin Kippes, Kaden Sheflo
Juniors: Gregory Peterson (goalie), Andrew Becker, Maxwell Ferrie, Jacob Drietz, Blake Cummings, Noah High, Brady Streiff, Jacob Kruger, Asher Jeremiasonndrew
Sophomores: Fabian McGuire, Steven Pribula, Cade Villwock
Freshmen: Robbie Orsburn, Jacob Holm, Aden Extrand, Dawson Piepho, David Rollins, Patrick Plowman
Eighth grade: Tanner Karsnia, Logan Sawyer
Monday, April 22, at Rogers 6 p.m.
Thursday, April 25, vs. Monticello 7 p.m.
May 2, vs. Buffalo 5:30 p.m.
May 3, at Becker 7 p.m.
May 6, vs. Rocori 7 p.m.
May 7, vs. Moorhead 7 p.m.
May 9, vs. Sauk Rapids 7 p.m.
May 13, at St. Cloud 6:30 p.m.
May 14, at Grand Rapids 6 p.m.
May 16, vs. St. Michael-Albertville 7 p.m.
May 20, at Big Lake 7 p.m.
May 23, at Chisago Lakes 6 p.m.