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Carter Yepsen kept his eyes on the pass during varsity football practice in Rosemount, Min., Wednesday, August 28, 2013. ] (KYNDELL HARKNESS/STAR TRIBUNE) kyndell.harkness@startribune.com

 

Two of the smallest kids on the field embrace the role as Rosemount football’s last stand of defense. ¶ One hundred and fifty pounds stands in one corner of the Irish secondary. Another 150 pounds is responsible for the opposite corner. They’re not much at first glance, but 5-10, identical-twin cornerbacks Conner and Carter Yepsen are much more “sturdy” than they appear and are future Division I athletes.

 

The Irish will find out just how sturdy and athletic the twins are when they opens their season at home Thursday night against Lake Conference power Wayzata, which reached the Class 6A state semifinals in 2012 and is ranked No. 2 in the Star Tribune’s preseason metro poll.

Rosemount also reached the state semifinals last year, but is a very different team from the Trojans.

Rosemount coach Jeff Erdmann’s team doesn’t have his opponent’s size and numbers. He relies on more skill-specific athletes like the Yepsens. This pair’s gift is speed. Carter has a step or two on his brother, but each is among the Irish’s fastest players.

“They can move,” Erdmann said. “It’s tough for receivers to shake them.”

If Carter and Conner are tailing receivers, that means they’ve already accomplished half of their goal for the night. They are well aware of the Lake Conference’s tendency to run and will have to be quick to recognize running plays. If the twins and the rest of the Rosemount defense can collapse on runs quick enough, it’ll force Wayzata to pass.

The brothers and the Irish safeties plan to stymie any pass attempts. Teammate and close friend Nate Sackett said the Irish cornerbacks competed well against NCAA Division 1-bound receivers in 7-on-7 summer competition and expects them to play even better against high school talent.

“Our goal is to stop the run and make teams pass on us,” Carter Yepsen said. “Defense has been the base of our whole program. We get more helmets to the football than most other teams we’ve seen.”

Attacking is a natural reaction for the twins. They are two of the state’s best midfielders in lacrosse. Both will play Division I lacrosse at Robert Morris University in Pennsylvania. Playing varsity sports together since eighth grade, Carter and Conner have developed a trust that allows the other to do his job better, they said. Conner said he doesn’t have to worry about Carter messing up.

Carter welcomed the flippant compliment. He is new to the cornerback position with most of his experience at safety. Any position the brothers are at, though, they learned to never make high contact.

“Being one of the smallest kids on the field, we make sure not to hit high. We use our speed to get around [players] and take out the legs,” Conner said.

Sackett appreciates their football smarts. The 6-2, 217-pound outside linebacker also knows from experience that they can apply a solid hit.

“They’ve always been a lot more sturdy to do the job than they appear,” Sackett said. “It’s probably why they are so good and why they are DI athletes. They’ve given me a few good hits.”

 

Twitter: @JGonStrib

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