Annandale ran three different quarterbacks on the field. They had four wide receiver sets, including Brady Spaulding, a 6’7” target, who stood a foot taller than most defensive backs.
Their overall numbers on the sidelines were twice that of Holy Family Catholic.
And while the Fire fell to 0-6 on the season on Oct. 8, a 46-14 loss to Annandale, no heads were hung. This season is about more than football. It is about family. It is about giving all.
The word “ALL” inscribed on a wooden lock box that contains an important item from every coach and every player that is carried onto the field before the start of every game. Pieces of each individual that when brought together are for the greater good of the team.
The box an inspiration from Audrey Lynn Lofgren (the initials ALL), daughter of assistant head coach LeRoy Lofgren, who died at the age of 13 due to complications of Cerebral Palsy in April 2021.
Pinwheels, placed by the players beside the box, and a miniature Mickey Mouse stuffed animal on the box in the home opener, reminders of Lofgren’s fight, her smile, the impact she continues to have on the Fire football program and its players still today.
“I approached LeRoy about the idea. I told him we would only do what his family was comfortable with. The lock box stands as a powerful message of her life. Despite what (Audrey) dealt what, she had a smile on her face. She was like all teenagers. She was using new software that was helping her communicate. She wanted to get her hair done. She never complained. She was always happy,” head coach Ian Parzyck said.
Well, except that one time at a basketball game last winter when she couldn’t see the court well enough.
“Audrey came to everything, she did everything. I remember one time, Audrey, LeRoy, Rory (her brother), and Christie (her mother), they met up with our family at a basketball game in our gym. Audrey was ticked she couldn’t see. So LeRoy, and he’s a pretty big dude, lifts her up and holds her in his arms so she could see. That’s the kind of guy he is,” Parzyck said.
The Lofgren family walked with the team onto the field before the home opener with New London-Spicer.
“You could feel everyone’s emotions. It was an amazing moment. Everyone was talking about how this stood for what HFC football is all about,” Holy Family Catholic senior captain Ethan Livermore said.
“It was really powerful, not just team building, but community building. We’re a stronger football team, a stronger school, because of it,” Holy Family Catholic senior captain Nick Charpentier said.
Before the season, a ceremony, held in the chapel at Holy Family Catholic High School, each player and coach shared a story surrounding the personal item they had chosen to place in the lock box for the season.
An idea Parzyck read about in the 2010 season before a match-up with Rochester Lourdes in the state championship.
“I thought it was a great way to build up our culture. That trust we place in one another,” Charpentier said.
“Bringing up that lock box was very special. I feel like we got to know each other a little deeper. It helped build that bond among the team even stronger,” Livermore said.
Parzyck called the ceremony “one of the coolest moments” in his 21 years of coaching football. “There were some real moments that are not always seen in a football room.”
Charpentier took the wooden blocks blessed by Father Bob White at the beginning of his first three years of playing football for Holy Family Catholic and placed them together in the lock box.
“HFC and football have been a huge part of my life these last three years and those blocks represent that,” Charpentier said.
Livermore placed a visor clip that his grandmother gave him when he turned 16 years old. A bible verse that rests above his head in his car.
“When I think of that, I think about who I play for, and what I play for,” Livermore said.
The lock box travels with the Fire for every game, for every practice, for every team meal, for every film session, as a visual representation of the primary cultural shift in the program of “meaning beyond outcome.”
“Football is tough. There are tough aspects to life. Not every day is going to be a walk in the park. But we have this opportunity to walk out every day and strap on your helmet and pads and get to be a part of the greatest game. There are people would plead and beg to have this chance and I want our guys to realize that,” Parzyck said.
Parzyck, in his 20th year of coaching football at Holy Family Catholic, his first as head coach, has been there for every game since program inception. He’s been there for the triumphs, and he’s been there for lumps.
The Fire own two wins over 22 games dating back to the 2019 season. To get back to where Holy Family Catholic was, contending for trips to the state tournament every year, it will take an all-in approach. The giving of 100 percent from every athlete, every coach.
“We rolled out three seniors in the line-up last week. Two seniors the week before against Dassel-Cokato. We’re going up teams with 17-20 seniors. Our young guys are battling, working their tails off. Sometimes it can be hard to coach in these times, but also super rewarding. That’s life,” said Parzyck, who called the last six primary practices over the last two weeks the best all season.
Annandale completed 22-of-39 passes for 359 yards and two scores in the 46-14 decision in week six.
The Fire were in the right position often to make plays, but like two Cardinal fumbles that bounced off the grass right back into the hands of the offensive player, Annandale players made plays, totaling nearly 500 yards of offense and seven touchdowns.
Holy Family Catholic fought to the final whistle, scoring twice in the fourth quarter on long plays of 60 and 93 yards from sophomore DJ Pegues and junior Michael Richelsen, which accounted for all but 66 of the Fire’s yards.
Holy Family Catholic starts a number of sophomores on both sides of the ball including quarterback Gavin Frye, who connected with Kael Foudray with an 18-yard strike in the first half on a slant pass. Frye also had a long rushing first down on a scramble.
Richelsen and Kieran Paidosh, who was 2-for-2 on extra-point attempts, led the Fire with 12 and 11 tackles. Duke Guenther and Bennett Russo added eight tackles apiece with Livermore recording a sack.
Holy Family Catholic has two remaining regular season games in a road contest at Watertown-Mayer (4-2) on Friday, Oct. 15, and Foley (1-5) at home before the MEA Break on Wednesday, Oct. 20. The Royals are coming off a win over previously undefeated Litchfield.
“These last couple of weeks, I really want to get better with each game. Build our culture stronger,” Charpentier said.
“We want to build up the juniors, and sophomores, too, so when our time on the team is over, we can hand over the torch to them,” Livermore said.
“That and win a couple of football games,” Charpentier added.