COLFAX — With approximately 32 kids finding their way to the Vikings’ football field two weeks ago, head coach Mark Maloney knows he is going to have to do some digging to replace the skilled players he lost from last season.
Gone are 1,000 yard rusher Jeremiah Wait, who was the Offensive Player of the Year in the conference, All Conference (AC) lineman on both sides of the ball Ben Kragness, AC end on offense and defense Sawyer DeMoe, AC defensive lineman Trevor Olson, who also played in the O-line, AC offensive lineman Tyson Hellmann, wide receiver Jacob Klukas, running back Andrew Adix, wide receiver Andrew Larson, linebacker Jon Hayton, tight end Logan Mittelstadt and linemen Matt Shaw and Darrion Jenson.
This group of players was instrumental in getting the Vikings into the playoffs the past two seasons and producing a 6-3 record last year with a 4-2 conference record, allowing them to host a home playoff game which they lost to Chequamegon.
Experienced seniors back for their final year include quarterback/defensive back/punter/place kicker Jarrod Rudi, wide receiver/defensive back Jacob Steinke, running back/linebacker Zach Meyer, running back Hunter Clementson and linemen Jake Flodquist, Ross Taylor, Stephen Snyder and Ben Christianson. New faces from the senior class include Kedar Davis, Andrew Yolitz and Tyler Dawson. Rudi was the First Team All Conference punter and honorable mention place kicker as a junior and Steinke was second on the team in receptions last year.
Only three juniors are playing this year which include running back/defensive back Aliymu Davis who averaged eight yards per carry on the offensive side end a year ago, along with Austin Dressel and Tyler Snyder. A strong group of sophomores will be working their way up to varsity this year including Alex Sykora, Mitch Kiekhafer, Joel Hayton, Jon Welk, Nate Polden, Treyton Teige, Brett Schindler, Adam Pretasky, Caleb Korevaar, and Spencer Herrick.
Freshmen filling out the team are Dennan Fogarty, Brett Foyt, Dalton Schotter, Tommy Anderson, Jackson Hellmann, Wyatt Olson, Luke Heidorn and Tom Jensen.
“Obviously we need to do a lot of reorganizing after losing so many key players from last season,” third year coach Mark Maloney said. “We have some very skilled athletes and many of them put a lot of time in the weight room over the summer, so I think if we stay healthy we can be a team to deal with in the conference. We will have to have some underclassmen step up and play some positions they may not be familiar with but this seems to be a good group of kids who are willing to do that,” he added.
With last year’s conference champions St. Croix Central now in the Middle Border Conference, Maloney expects their replacement, Durand to have a strong team as well as Mondovi and possibly Spring Valley. The Vikings will be tested right away as they play their first three games on the road this year, starting at Eleva-Strum August 21. The Cardinals are expected to be a contender for the Dairyland Conference title this season. A week later Colfax will travel to Ellsworth from the Middle Border Conference, then start conference play at Spring Valley Sept. 4.
“Just like other teams, we are still trying to get players in the right place and be ready to start the season,” Maloney said.
Assisting Maloney this year are Matt DeMoe, Carl Rudi, Joel Steinke and Chad Evenson.