by Bruce Strand, sports editor
Joel Ende is getting some individual recognition this week, but he’s normally just one of the guys moving the pile for the Rogers football team.
And that’s fine with Ende. He’s never yearned to carry the ball himself.
“No, not at all. I love to block,” Ende said. “I don’t need my name in the paper. I want to see their names (the backs and receivers) in the paper.”
The 6-foot-1, 210 pound guard is a rare three-year starter in the robust Rogers program. He’s one of four captains this year, and was the lone junior to make all-conference last year (along with eight seniors) on a 7-2 team.
Rogers has averaged over eight yards per rush in two victories, 42-7 over North Branch and 61-7 over Buffalo. Ende’s contributions are his precise blocks against outside linebackers on sweeps and against defensive tackles on inside traps.
“Joel is a strong and physical player,” said coach Marc Franz. “He has the quickness and agility and good footwork we need from our guards to lead the sweeps.”
Ende was deployed at center in 10th grade and guard the last two years. Rogers has enough depth to avoid two-way players for the most part, but Ende saw some defensive line duty last year and likely will again this season in the big games.
Franz points to him as an excellent role model as well: “He is one of our hardest-working players in the weight room. He’s a very good student. He never takes anything for granted. You can show the younger kids that if you put in the time like Joel does, good things are going to happen.”
Football is Ende’s only sport. He spends the rest of the year lifting weights to prepare for the next season. His personal bests are 330 pounds in bench press, 395 in squat and 255 on the power clear. He won his weight division last spring in District 728′s weight lifting competition.
Along with bulking up, he was asked, what does it take to be a good blocker?
“Practice, practice, practice. And do what the coaches tell you,” said Ende, who works with his position coach Ken Worel. “It’s a combination of good technique and being strong and nasty, too.”
Ende is proud to be part of a program that’s established a strong tradition in just a decade of existence. In his own career, he’s been part of two conference championships and one section title so far.
“We definitely have a good culture here,” said Ende. “I’ve been watching the Royal games they started. I got started playing in third grade.”
Ende, a 3.8 GPA scholar, intends to study mechanical engineering. He’s aiming for a job helping a company like Polaris make power sports machines, and eventually start a business of his own.
Asked about goals for his senior season, he said there’s “big expectations” on the team.
“Those expectations come from hard work. We have put in a ton of time. My goal is for us to reach our potential. We have the ability to go far.”
He added, “One thing I’d like to do personally is block for a couple thousand-yard rushers. That would be pretty cool.”
THE ENDE SCORECARD
Personal file — Age: 17 … Family: parents DeeDee and Jeff; older siblings Aaron and April … Sport: football … Academics: 3.8 GPA … College plans: North Dakota State, mechanical engineering
Favorite stuff — Class: CAD …TV show: NFL … Movies: “Happy Gilmore” and “Tommyboy” … Food: Texas Roadhouse steak and ribs … Drink: gatorade blue … Team: Vikings … Athlete: Jared Allen … Kickback: hunting deer and turkey, fishing … Would like to visit: Alaska