by Bob San
SUN PRESS NEWSPAPERS
The question many Osseo football fans are asking is, “How are the Orioles going to replace Bridge Tusler?” They probably can answer that question because it is impossible to replace a talented and versatile player such as Tusler, who starred at running back, defensive back and quarterback and also at returning kicks and punts.
Led by Tusler, who won all the player of the year awards in Minnesota, the Orioles enjoyed a brilliant 2012 season. The Orioles finished 7-1 in the conference and 8-2 overall, with their only losses on the field against powerhouses Totino Grace and Eden Prairie. They won three of their final four games, made the Prep Bowl and lost to Eden Prairie in a hard-fought semifinal game.
Tusler has graduated along with other top players such as Troy Kray and Rakeem Felder, leaving ninth year Osseo coach Derrin Lamker with a very inexperienced team.
“We lost the metro player of the year in Bridge Tusler and we don’t have many returners,” Lamker said.
But Lamker, who enters the season with a 51-23 record at Osseo, has proven he can produce a competitive squad every year.
The 2013 Orioles do have some quality starters back. On offense, all-conference senior center Joel Jacobs (6-2, 240) is back, along with senior running back Jamien Hampton (6-2, 205), senior wide receiver Connor Kittelson (6-3, 200), senior tightend/fullback Josh Phillips (6-4, 225), senior quarterback/wide receiver Matt Meidtke (6-4, 205) and senior lineman Martin Olson (6-0, 235).
Lamker said Hampton and Phillips have the talent to play at the next level. Senior wide receiver Josh Goldscmidt (6-4, 215), a talented athlete who took last year off, should give Osseo another offensive threat.
Only three starters return on defense. They are senior free safety Cortez Stanley (5 11, 170), senior corner Jordan Hollie (6-2 190) and senior linebacker Kwentin Perkins (6-0, 210).
Newcomer Cam Kelly, a senior linebacker (5-11, 190), gives Osseo another athletic defender.
Last year, the Orioles were not picked to do well but they went on to a successful season. The Orioles are hoping to surprise again this fall. Lamker feels his team has good athletes and team speed and looks for his young team to develop as the season goes along.
“The best-case scenario is we struggle early and come on strong at the end,” Lamker said.
In the conference, Lamker predicts Totino Grace will top the division, followed by Andover, Osseo, Elk River, Armstrong and Park Center.
“Totino Grace is loaded with athletes and Andover has a great quarterback,” Lamker said.
The Orioles have a tough early season schedule. They open the season at Centennial Thursday, Aug. 29, then host Minnetonka and visit Blaine.
Contact Bob San at [email protected]