By Logan Lawson
In his final summer before heading off to college, Niobrara/Verdigre's Cade Kalkowski is just trying to have fun. During practice all week for the Northeast Nebraska All-Star Football Game, he has done just that.
"Practice has been going great, it's a lot of fun," he said during a short break from a competitive game of bowling.
Kalkowski, along with fellow Niobrara/Verdigre teammate Ben Johnson, will compete Saturday for the White Team at Norfolk's Veteran's Memorial Field in the fourth annual game. He admitted it was not a smooth start to the week for the team as players from all over the area came together to play for the first time under a mixed group of coaches. As the week has gone along, the team has greatly improved.
"Right now it's Thursday and we're meshing together really well," Kalkowski said.
Kalkowski will line up at guard for the White Team, something he is very comfortable with. Since Niobrara/Verdigre plays eight-man football, it would be safe to assume there would be an adjustment for him while trying to learn the 11-man game. He does not see it that way, however. Kalkowski does admit that the blocking schemes are slightly different.
In general, eight-man blocking schemes involve more one-on-one blocks. This week he has had to learn how to do more combination blocks, working together with another offensive lineman to make their way towards the linebackers while still preventing the defensive lineman from getting to the ball carrier. One thing that helps learn the new style of play for him is the slower pace of the game.
"The speed of the game is a little slower than eight-man," noted Kalkowski.
He knows it is important for him to adjust to the new style of play before Saturday.
"My expectations for myself is to make good blocks and get a good push up front," he said. "Our offense needs a good push right up front, right off the bat to get that offensive scheme going."
Once the game is complete Saturday, Kalkowski will turn his focus to the Sertoma All-Star Game June 18 in Hastings. From there, the four-time all-conference and all-district football player will make one more transition, preparing for college at Wayne State, where he will compete in the hammer throw for the Wildcats track and field team.
Kalkowski, Johnson and multiple other Knox County athletes will take the field Saturday as the White Team looks to take down the Red Team in the Northeast Nebraska All-Star Football Game in Norfolk. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at Veteran's Memorial Field.