Lassi named head football coach

by Tom Coombe -

After an eight-year apprenticeship, Cory Lassi is taking the reins of Ely’s high school football program.
The former Timberwolf football player and current third-grade teacher at Washington Elementary has been named head coach.
He was hired by the Ely School Board earlier this month and takes over after spending the last eight years as defensive coordinator for Brian Lamppa, who retired after the 2017 season.
The move is a natural progression for Lassi, who aided Lamppa during an impressive run that included four state tournament appearances, including two trips to the state 9-man semifinals.
“It’s something I think, coaching under Brian the last eight years, it was something that I was hoping I could use as a stepping stone to get in this position someday,” said Lassi, a 2004 graduate of Ely High School. “I’m excited to see what the future brings and where we can go with Ely football.”
Lassi, a lineman for the Timberwolves and later the Vermilion Ironmen, molded traditionally strong defenses in his years working with Lamppa and guiding the defensive corps.
He also had an active role in game planning, scouting and working with the youth flag football program.
Other than some behind the scenes changes and a new assistant coach, Lassi said “I’m not going to come in and reinvent the wheel” in his first season in charge.
“I think for the most part we’re going to keep doing a lot of the same stuff,” said Lassi.
The new head coach does, however, plan to take a more prominent role in promoting offseason conditioning.
“The main difference is I want to incorporate offseason workouts and getting these guys in the weight room more than they have in the past,” said Lassi.
Ely went 5-5 this season and reached the section semifinals, and Lassi is hoping that the 2018 Wolves pursue an ambitious goal - going even deeper into the playoffs.
“I think a lofty (goal) will be to get back to the section championship game,” said Lassi. “In order for that to happen we have to put in a lot of time in the offseason. Looking at Cook County and a Mt. Iron team that will be very good and returning a lot of starters, and looking at a Northwoods team that always seems to reload. I think getting back to that section championship game is a lofty goal to set but one if we put the time in is something we can accomplish.”
The Wolves’ football program has enjoyed tremendous success in the last decade, but that has coincided with a move to Minnesota’s smallest enrollment class: 9-man.
Ely remains one of the largest 9-man schools in the state and with larger class sizes in the elementary school, the possibility exists of a future return to the 11-man, Class 1A level.
That’s something Lassi is both aware and wary of.
“It’s been in the back of my mind for the last four seasons,” said Lassi. “We have always been toeing that line of jumping back to 11-man, which if that’s what we have to do then that’s what we have to do. Looking at some of the other teams, Cook County, Northwoods, South Ridge, they’re in the same position as us. It would be nice if we go that a couple of these other teams do too so we can continue the rivalries we’ve built the last six years.”
The Wolves open practice next August and Lassi makes his head coaching debut with a long bus trip as Ely starts the 2018 season at Ogilvie on Thursday, Aug. 30.
Next year’s schedule already has a hole in it with Northeast Range’s decision to drop varsity football next year.
The current Ely schedule, which is set by the state high school league’s football districting program, includes seven games - four at home.