Northern Star: Markus Pokornowski
For this week's segment, we feature a running back on the Cloquet football team who's using his injury as motivation for his senior season.
CLOQUET, Minn. – Last season, the Cloquet football team lost in the section 7AAAA final for the first time in three years.
“It’s a team game and our team just didn’t do what we were supposed to do,” senior running back Markus Pokornowski said of that loss.
But the Lumberjacks were missing a big piece in that game, as Pokornowski was sidelined with an injury.
“Unfortunately he ended up getting hurt in the semifinals after having a really great early half of the game. He really wanted to play that game and unfortunately he needed one more week and our boys played really hard that night and wish we could have had one more week to get Markus back for the state tournament,” Cloquet assistant coach Jeff Ojanen said.
Now healthy entering his senior year, Pokornowski has one thing on his mind.
“I went really hard in the off-season because I was angry with how I got hurt and how I let down the team so hopefully this year that doesn’t happen and we can make it to the [U.S.] Bank,” Pokornowski said.
“It made it I guess a little easier to digest losing last year in the section final because we knew we’d have Markus back and some key guys back next year,” Ojanen added.
While Pokornowski hopes to make it back to state this fall, he’s also hoping to be a strong leader both on and off the field.
“Say we’re at a linebacker drill and some kind doesn’t do something right, I can kind of correct them, show them what to do, and hopefully they’ll do a better job next time. Kind of give them advice and not try to drag them down,” Pokornowski said of his leadership this season.
“They feed off of him and they look up to him. They seem him and make sure that if he’s going and getting after it, then they have to. We always talked to him about our best player has to be our hardest worker and I think he’s kind of taken that to heart and gone after it this year,” Ojanen said.
Both of his older brothers, Evan and Tim, played for the Lumberjacks, and were the leaders that Pokornowski hopes he can be in his senior year.
“My brothers went through the programs and now I finally get to be a leader and show everyone else how Cloquet football work,” Pokornowski said.
While Pokornowski has his sights set on getting back to the state tournament and hopefully getting the chance to play college ball, he’s just taking this season in, hoping to impact the team and enjoy every moment with the program that’s grown into so much.
“They’re a lot of fun, they’re a lot of my friends. It’s my senior year so I know a lot of them now so we kind of just joke around and they’re a lot of hard workers. You can come back here and it’s just nice. It’s kind of just home,” Pokornowski said.