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Football: Froehling liked Tigers' effort and improvement during 2010 season

Mark Froehling was far from discouraged by his football team's first one-win season since 1982.

In fact, the veteran Farmington head coach was more than pleased with the effort and improvement his team showed -- as well as the lessons it learned -- while playing to a record of 1-8.

"I told the kids they were one of the most improved teams I've had with their development as we went through the season. We worked in a new offense and started to be more efficient in our execution and we were able to put up some points and be competitive against some pretty good football teams," Froehling said. "And football has to be about more than winning and losing. The kids learned a lot about being part of a team, about improving as a team and as a person. Our goal is always to win football games, but there are other benefits."

The Tigers, who returned just three varsity regulars at the beginning of the season, lost three of their first four games and were shut out twice as they tried to install a new spread offense around quarterback Darren Beenken. The offense started to come around in a heartbreaking 28-27 loss to Holy Angels in Week 5 when Beenken threw for three touchdowns and senior running back CJ Record ate up 219 yards on the ground.

"Talking to the kids, they liked the new offense, enjoyed playing it and are looking forward to the expansion of that system next season. I think they took to it real well," said Froehling, whose squad used a power running game during its streak of Missota Conference titles in the mid-2000s. "It gave us the opportunity to compete with the type of athletes we have. We did some good things throwing the football and we had another 1,000-yard rusher and we did a lot of that with a number of sophomores who had to play at the varsity level."

One of those sophomores was Beenken, who finished 78 of 164 through the air for 904 yards with five touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He completed at least 10 passes to four different receivers (Dayne Eich, Sebren Baer, Austin Bassett and Drew Hegseth).

"He made great strides as a quarterback, even from mid-season, with his ability to pass, find open receivers and hit targets on time," Froehling said. "He's a well-composed athlete and you need that kind of person at quarterback. He was mature for his age and certainly has great potential for the future."

Record carried the load on the ground in his senior season, finishing with 1,013 yards and six touchdowns after his 52-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter of the 39-14 section playoff loss to Lakeville North.

"CJ's a great team player and hard-working athlete. He did a lot of work in the weight room and was consistent in his work through the off-season," Froehling said. "He had good speed and was able to make good cuts in the offense and get some big gains and first downs for us."

The Tigers struggled getting first downs in the first half of the season, and that made it tough on a defense that was often left to defend in front of a short field.

"Early on the defense was put in a bad spot a lot of the time and it's pretty tough to get a stop in high school football when inside the 35 turns into four-down territory," Froehling said. "It's hard to over come that and they did give up some big plays, but there were large stretches of time where the defense did a really good job of getting the ball back to the offense."

Eric McWright anchored the defense with team highs in tackles (58) and sacks (seven). Blake Weinand (56), Tommy Korbein (55 tackles, two interceptions), Jake Schaeppi (37), Baer (37), Record (36) and Athen Ashton (33 tackles, four interceptions) were also key contributors.

Regulars Eich, Korbein, McWright, Record, Baer, Schaeppi, Cory Johnson, John Schimmel, Tyler Grubb and Evan Workman are among the 19 seniors the Tigers will have to replace on the varsity roster next fall.

"This year we've got four sophomores back and other juniors starting, so we'll have a much higher number of guys who played a lot on Friday nights coming back. That will be a benefit," Froehling said. "We'll have to piece together an offensive line. We graduate our top six linemen, so that's going to be major. We've got 65 ninth graders playing and some good athletes in there, so we'll try to piece together them with our sophomores and juniors who are coming back. We'll have some holes to fill -- just like any other year -- and the kids coming up the ranks will work hard to fill them."