MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The high school football season begins in earnest Thursday night, with more than 70 games across the state and another hundred Friday night.

And as WCCO’s David McCoy tells us, the school right downtown in the state’s biggest city might be one of the more interesting ones to keep an eye on this season.

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C.J. Hallman played for DeLaSalle, winning a state title. He was an assistant coach at DeLaSalle for eight years. But nothing could’ve prepared him for what he experienced last year at DeLaSalle, when he was a head coach for the first time.

“I think some of the surprises was how much I didn’t know. How much the head coaches were going to have to do, during the day. You spend a lot of time trying to make sure a lot of moving pieces are working,” Hallman said.

On top of that, Hallman was taking over a program that had gone 3-7 the year before — its first losing season in 14 years. People are used to DeLaSalle winning — a lot. This is a program that had gone to state seven of the previous eight years.

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And in his first season last year, Hallman’s Islanders went 4-6.

Much of DeLaSalle’s struggles the last two years have simply had to do with their schedule. When Minnesota dissolved conferences two years ago in favor of districts, the Islanders suddenly found themslves playing much larger schools. But after another round of redistricting this year, they anticipate a much more level playing field.

“Last year one of the bigger things that I said to the guys was like, we had to, the season was like being one of those old vintage Cadillacs. You’re gonna take some lumps, but it still can roll. A lot of those cars can still keep going. And so after taking some lumps I think we learned from it, and these guys I think are stronger now because of it. I think it’s gonna help us,” Hallman said.

And Hallman seems like the right guy to be driving that car.

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The Islanders travel to Richfield Friday night.