By Amber Hayden
ELK MOUND — The Mounders’ return to the gridiron this year as the Dunn-St. Croix Conference champions and after going unbeaten in conference action a year ago, Elk Mound is looking to maintain its grip on the title handware in 2018.
Posting an unblemished 6-0 conference record, Elk Mound made its way to level three of the WIAA Division 5 football playoffs before bowing out of the season with a loss to Grantsburg, ending the season with a 9-3 overall record.
According to Coach David Lew, who is in his sixth year of coaching with a record of 24-27, the team lost a lot of players after graduation, but even with them gone the foundation that last year’s seniors left the team is what they were hoping for.
With 15 letter winners returning this year, Lew is still waiting to see who is going to step up and lead the team. “All of our returning young men are a big asset to our program,” commented Lew.
But with exiting seniors such as Dylan Black who played 12 games completing 46 of his 96 pass attempts and averaged 42.9 yards per game offensively, and Bryce Kasper, who also received all-conference, state, and region, managed 49 solo tackles defensively, the question becomes can the team rebuild and move on from losing them this year.
Coach Lew believes so, “We have a very good group of young men at all levels working hard to do things the right way.”
Returning for his final season and looking to lead the Mounders’ offensive attack once again is senior, and state standout, Brady Redwine. Last season, Redwine, who averaged 7.6 yards per carry, lead the Mounders and the Dunn-St. Croix in rushing with an outstanding tally of 2,598 yards and 36 touchdowns. Redwine was ranked third in both categories in the state, regardless of division and earned him all-conference, all-region and all-state honors.
Even with the return of Redwine, along with a strong core of seniors and juniors, the Mounders have quite a few younger classmen joining them out on the field in hopes of a little bit of varsity game time. Lew is positive even in the young skill players that the core players will work with them in order to progress their game and show them the way.
“We believe our strength will be our run game and senior leadership,” said Lew.
There a few players looking to contribute after some field time last year. Colton Ward who saw time during only three games and made only two passing attempts in 2017. On the defensive line, Marquis Kasakaitas had an impressive 16 solo tackles and 37 over all. So it seems safe to say the Mounders look to have a strong offensive and defensive line for the 2018 season.
Although the team looks to have a solid footing Coach Lew still says there are teams to be aware of in the upcoming season. “Mondovi, Spring Valley, and Durand because of their return game and are very well coached,” according to Lew.
But with goals such as hard work and making sure to still have fun during the practices and games, Lew is using the philosophy that everything else will take care of itself.
The team will kick off their season with a home game against the Chetek-Weyerhauser Bulldogs this Friday, August 17 at 7 p.m., then head to Saint Croix Central for their first away game of the year on August 24. Conference play will start the following week, August 31, against the Mondovi Buffaloes during a home game at Elk Mound High School.
Seniors: Rian Flynn, Colton Ward, Isiah Wald, Jack Emberson, Ethan Kaanta, Brady Redwine, Mason Close, Tyler Bauer, Brett Lew, Mitchell Fox, Max Marquardt, Marquis Kasakaitas, Ryan Zurbuchen, Marcus Kinblom and Jake Mentzel.
Juniors: Chase Rhude, Blaze Todd, Dominic Hall, Weston Moschkau and Nate Sweeney.
Sophomores: Ryan Bohl, Nate Lew, Luke Hanson, Brett Rosenthal, Sam Lor, Logan Schultz, Blake Burlingame, Michael Jenson, Ethan Levra, Zane Clemmens, Jacob Her, Alex Johnson, Oscar Wald, Gabe Moschkau, Jayden Wyrwicki, Major Gunderson-Morris, Mason Hay, Reese Brunner, Aaron Heuer, Aidan Balts, Ryder Simington, Antonio Meyer and Ben Heath.
Freshmen: Ethan Johnson, Brex Todd, Cameron Wallin, Avery Kaanta, Carson Steinhorst, Braedon Pederson, Jordan Nelson, Matt Rowan, Vincent Biegel, Quintin Erdman, Korbin Verdon, Sawyer Hunsucker, Keagen Lemler, Devan Scheffler and Dillon Davis.