So far, 2014 has been a year of transformation for the Stillwater Ponies storied football program.
The 9th grade football program is getting an overhaul, the 7th and 8th grade programs will no longer be offered at the junior high schools and longtime Ponies Defensive Coordinator Mark Elmer is stepping down.
Starting this year, 7th and 8th grade football will no longer be offered at Oak-Land or Stillwater junior high schools. Instead, the St. Croix Valley Athletic Association is offering football for 3rd through 8th grade throughout the valley.
“VAA football is a quality product that will provide a similar experience and allow for smaller teams, more coaching resources, a longer season, quality competition and improved equipment,” Coach Beau LaBore wrote in the Ponies Football winter newsletter. “The VAA football commission and its coaches have adopted much of the schemes, skills, and drills that the high school program uses. Continuous improvement throughout the youth and junior high experience will be significantly aided with this new arrangement.”
In addition to linking 7th and 8th graders to the VAA, the 9th graders will now be brought up to the high school to play. Instead of being divided by school, 9th graders will be pooled together and separated into two balanced teams, called Stillwater Red and Stillwater Black.
“My highest priority as head football coach in 2014 is to give significant attention to our 9th grade football players, teams and coaches,” LaBore writes. “This is a group that has been treated differently than 10th through 12th graders despite the fact that, in other than location, is part of the high school. Every effort will be made to make them feel like part of our high school football program. We are going improve a quality 9th grade experience.”
You can read more about the 9th grade overhaul on poniesfootball.com.
In coaching news, Stillwater’s longtime Defensive Coordinator Mark Elmer is stepping down from his position. Elmer will continue to coach the varsity defensive backs.
Elmer was honored at the Minnesota Football Coaches Association 49th Annual Football Hall of Fame Banquet last April with the Butch Nash Outstanding Assistant Coach Award.
Mark Harris will take over as the Ponies new Defensive Coordinator.
“There are several reasons for this transition, which was initiated by Elmer,” the newsletter reads. “This transition will allow us to tweak our defense for what has become a spread offense dominated league. Coach Elmer feels that the transition comes at a good time as he grows closer to retirement and Coach Harris seeks the challenge. We believe this will extend Coach Elmer’s coaching career beyond retirement, which would be ideal.”
LaBore and Harris have worked together for the past seven years.
“Coach Harris is curious, pays incredible attention to detail, likes solving puzzles and can place things in the big picture,” the Ponies newsletter reads. “Harris is a tireless worker and shows unreal organization with Hudl play books, Power Points and preparation.”
Harris follows in the footsteps of Elmer, Scott Hoffman and Dennis Meyer as defensive coordinator.
2014 Varsity Captains
The 2013 varsity football team and coaching staff voted for captains at the conclusion of the season. The team
selected Matt Anderson, Ryan Floen, Zach Knox, Andrew Lammers, and Ian Weisbrod.
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