57 players on the 2013 Elk Mound football team greeted first year head coach Dave Lew on the field for the first day of practice last week. Eight of those players are seniors and letter winners from last year’s team that went 8-2 overall and 5-1 in conference play, earning them a conference title. After a big win over Grantsburg in a Level 1 playoff game, the Mounders lost to Prescott 33-15 to end the season.
It will be somewhat of a rebuilding season with the starting quarterback Nick Heit graduating along with 1,277 yard rusher Jordan Klemp and leading receivers Dakota Tarnow and Nate Mack. All were All Conference selections as were several other players including, Josiah Bauer, Ryan Bridges, Will Miller and Jon Adank. Other players graduating were Jon Wolgemuth, Chris Hayden, David Henningfeld and Yeng Her.
A solid core of seniors with varsity experience return which should be one of their strengths this season according to Lew.
“Our senior group has worked very hard in the off season and helped the younger kids out a lot,” Lew said. “They have shown great leadership skills and that will help us as a team.”
Senior Travis Nelson, an All Conference defensive end last year appears to be taking over at quarterback while fellow seniors Tyler Deutschlander, Derrick Redwine and Hunter Alexander hope to do some running with the ball. Adam Gottschalk, an AC defensive back pick as a junior returns at that position and will also play receiver, first team AC place kicker Ryan Mueller is also back in that same job and end Austin Hanson and lineman Gabe Anderson are expected to help out.
Juniors looking for playing time include Shawn Flynn, David Ward, Chris Wolf, Jon Storing, Zach Mohr, Adam Wolgemuth, Brody Bergh, Corey Hagberg, Korbyn Knipfer, Morgan Fuller, Ryan Krall, Tim Lambele, Colton Potter and Josh Lien.
Sophomores include Alex Hollister, Jonah Bauer, Jake Borofka, Teegan Peterson, Jordan VanSchoonhoven, Eric Walling, Ben Mack, Chase Morris, John Clarke, Nate Kruger, Aaron Burgess, Jake Nandory, John Yang, Hunter Gagner, Jared Puzio, Justin Erpenbach, Cole Tyman, Colin Svee, Noah Stamm and Chandler James.
Getting their first taste of high school football are freshmen Dane Lew, Isaac Her, Chandler Schrieber, Hunter Johnson, Hunter Adelman, Noah Zurbuchen, Carter Pritchard, Tyler Nelson, Tyler Sahm, Rylan Maves, John Lein, Dayne Sell, Austin Owens, George Friberg and Trey Mohr.
Although the conference seems to be pretty balanced this year, Lew hopes the Mounders can continue the tradition of being a competitive team.
“We always want to set our goals high and winning the conference would be one of those goals,” he said. “But that will be awfully tough with returning D7 state champions Glenwood City bringing back a lot of their players from last year. I also think Mondovi and St. Croix Central will be contenders this year and we play all three of them on the road. We want to play hard and compete in every game (and as he told his team at the end of practice),we don’t want to get beat in the fourth quarter because of mistakes or lack of conditioning. We hope to be in the mix with the top teams at the end of the season,” he added.
Although Lew may be new at the head coaching position, he was an assistant for 11 years under 39 year head coach Dan Pedersen and has assistants that have been with the team for longer than that. Jeff Mack begins his 29th season, Mark Traun his 27th and Jason Lesik has 12 years under his belt. In addition, there are plenty of volunteer coaches including 20 year veteran Dan Hay and first year guys Dylan Pronschinske, Brandon Powell and Jesse Zurbuchen.
After a home scrimmage Friday morning Aug. 16 against Grantsburg, Stanley-Boyd and Barron, the Mounders begin the season on the road Friday night Aug. 23 at Chetek, then come home for a Thursday night game against Eleva-Strum Aug. 29.