COLFAX — After reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2006 last year and finishing with a 5-4 record, head coach Mark Maloney believes his players have the talent and work ethic that will lead them back to the playoffs as well as finish high in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference standings this season.
It certainly won’t be easy when you have to replace players like four year varsity and All Conference player Ethin Kiekhafer, All Conference end both on defense and offense Devon Utpadel, All Conference running back Noah Pretasky, team MVP Logan Sikora, defensive back Troy Bird and linemen Nolan Prince, Peter Lyrek, Rhett Kragness and Colton Breezee. But the Vikings have plenty of experienced players back including AC defensive back and running back Jeremiah Wait, AC linemen Ben Kragness and Trevor Olson and AC punter Jerrod Rudi who happens to be the quarterback. All are seniors except for Rudi, a junior. 11 more seniors, most of them with varsity experience, should see plenty of playing time including Tucker Teige, Matt Shaw, Sawyer DeMoe, Andrew Adix, Tyson Hellmann, Jon Hayton, Jacob Klukas, Logan Mittelstadt, Darrion Jenson, and Andrew Larson. Anderson is dealing with concussion symptoms from last season and won’t be playing for a while, Jenson is new to the team and Mittelstadt and Larson return to football after not playing last year.
“We have a large group of seniors this year, several with varsity experience,” Maloney said. “That should be one of our strengths, having experienced players. But with 33 total players out, we need to stay healthy because we don’t have a lot of depth.”
Juniors expected to help out are Zach Meyer, Chris Breezee, Ben Christianson, Stephan Snyder, Hunter Clementson, Jacob Steinke, Ross Taylor and Jake Floodquist. Only four sophomores found their way to the gridiron this year including, Bryce Kragness, Austin Dressel, Cole Anderson-Olson and Aliymu Davis. Meyer, Christianson, Steinke and Davis all have seen time at the varsity level. Six freshmen round out the squad with Treyton Teige, Mitchell Kiekhafer, Adam Pretasky, Brett Schindler, Nate Polden and Alex Sykora.
Colfax will scrimmage at Cumberland Aug. 16 then will begin the season at home against Eleva-Strum Aug. 22. They begin conference play at St. Croix Central Sept. 5 and Maloney believes that will be an early indication of how tough conference teams will be this year.
“I think Central will be one of the best teams in the league this year so we will need to be ready for that game,” he said. “I also think Boyceville and Spring Valley will be much improved, and although Glenwood City and Mondovi lost a lot of key players from last year, they always have a lot of talent every season. But we hope to be in the mix and if we play hard in every game, we will be,” he added.
Maloney, in his fourth year leading the Vikings is assisted by Carl Rudi, Joel Steinke, Chad Evenson and Matt DeMoe.