Yet the longtime Century boys trainer admits he’s never coached someone like Max Comfere.
“He’s one of those guys that you are lucky enough to have the chance to train in your career,” Houghton said. “… Since I’ve been here I think we’ve had maybe another year where we had a guy, where it was like, if we get the ball from this guy, he could possibly score for us. But we haven’t usually had teams where we try to pass the ball to a player. And we weren’t trying to put the ball to Max all the time. But it was still nice to have him there because if he puts the ball up there he’s so dangerous.
With his great speed and strength, combined with exceptional touch and finishing ability, Comfere has grown into one of the top scorers in the state of Minnesota. It didn’t matter whether the ball was at his feet, making menacing runs on the pitch, or playing the ball in the air, Comfere put constant stress on his opponents.
The senior finished with 22 goals and four assists in just 14 games en route to being named to the Class AAA State First Team for the second season in a row and helping the Panthers win their first Big Nine Conference title since. 2006. These are just a few of the many reasons why Comfere is the Post Bulletin’s Men’s Football Player of the Year.
“It has really been a team effort throughout the season,” said Comfere. “I couldn’t have done it myself at all. The 22 goals are not the only reflection of my talent and skills, but also of those who have surrounded me throughout the year. And of course, it’s really kind of a global reflection, which is also an impressive achievement for the team.
Comfere and Houghton will admit, however, that just a few years ago, Comfere took a little time to acclimatize to the Century program.
He joined the Panthers in his first season after playing for Mayo in eighth grade, but Comfere quickly found himself on Century’s B squad. He thought his skills were good enough to earn a spot on the Panthers’ college junior team.
“My relationship with the coaching staff has been interesting,” Comfere said. “At the beginning it was difficult to connect with the coaches. “
The truth is, it took a while for Houghton and the company to adjust to who Comfere was as a player.
Comfere had a way of making it look like he wasn’t going as hard as he should have been, which, of course, was not. It was part of his game, but the coaches took a while to figure it out.
“Max always looked like he wasn’t working,” Houghton said. “I said that about him forever, he looks like he’s doing nothing.” He looks like he’s getting a little lazy and then all of a sudden, bam, he’s doing this run. He gets behind the guys and suddenly scores. It’s like he’ll put the guys to sleep and then all of a sudden he’s gone.
“With Max, it took me a little while to figure all this out about him. Once I realize that, OK, he’s totally aware of what’s going on here. He was just focusing on a different aspect of the game than I was every now and then.
Once that understanding was found, the relationship blossomed, as did Comfere and the Panthers.
“We kind of formed that bond,” Comfere said. “Hal and I are really connected on a tactical level. He understands my style of play and I understand what he’s trying to lead. It works really well like that.
“You really have to give it to Hal as well because he was very open to player feedback and ready to adapt accordingly. It was an open collaboration between the players and the coaches which really made for peak performance. of all players.
Aided by a growth spurt that saw him climb four inches in the summer before his second season, in addition to finding his comfort zone, Comfere burst onto the scene as a 10th grader. He scored one goal or one assist in eight games. But Comfere’s season ended prematurely when he suffered a partial rupture of the patellar tendon insertion in his left knee. It was a big blow. But with her something became very clear.
The Panthers had something special at Comfere.
“He’s scored a point in every game he’s played. Eight games, he scored eight points. And I was like, ‘OK, we’ve got to get you on the ground,’ Houghton said with a laugh.
This knee injury sometimes continues to bother Comfere to this day. But he fought for it. His junior season he has become a household name.
He was named to the Class AA States First Team after scoring 14 goals and adding five assists. He was a key cog for a Century side that fell to Northfield in the Section 1AA Championship game. Comfere scored a goal in the 2-1 loss to the Raiders.
Century’s Max Comfere brings the ball onto the pitch in Thursday night’s 1AAA Section semifinal against Century. Alex VandenHouten / Post Bulletin
It was disappointing at the time, but with the return of 17 seniors – including Comfere – the Panthers expected to be back and more.
It seemed they were off to a good start.
The Panthers started the season 6-0 before winning their first Big Nine Conference championship since 2006 with a 10-1 record. They were seeded second for the 1AAA Section playoffs after a 13-2 regular season that saw them beat their opponents 48-7.
But after an outright 4-0 victory over John Marshall, their other rival from Crosstown Mayo knocked them out in the semi-finals by a 2-1 score in what was a well-played football game. The Spartans went on to place fourth at the State AAA Class Tournament.
“It’s a bit bittersweet,” Comfere said. “At the end of the day, things don’t always turn out the way we would have hoped. We had bigger goals for this season, bigger hopes, bigger aspirations. In the end, those things didn’t. worked.
For Comfere, however, there are much brighter days ahead.
Always passionate about rockets and space, Comfere hopes to study aerospace engineering. He said his dream job was to build rockets for SpaceX. He is also passionate about computer programming and loves to play the clarinet.
As for his football career?
Comfere won’t be playing collegially but doesn’t think his football days are over yet.
“After high school I’m not really sure what my football plans are,” Comfere said. “I love the game and would play no matter where I go or what team I play on.”