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By Laura Giammattei
GLENWOOD CITY — The field will look a bit different this season for the Glenwood City Hilltoppers.
The Hilltoppers start the year rebuilding from the departure of five strong seniors from the roster. There will be some large shoes to fill for the returning upperclassmen and plenty of opportunity for sophomores and freshmen to close the remaining gaps.
Last year’s senior class athletes included several all-conference picks: Tanner Davis (first team), Hadin DeSmith (first team), Will Owen (first team), Bryce Fayerweather (second team) and Caleb Peterson (honorable mention). These five young men helped the Toppers land in the middle of the Dunn-St. Croix Conference in an extremely competitive year (4-6, 3-3), just below Spring Valley, Elk Mound, and Mondovi, who shared the conference title with a 5-1 record in conference.
As these five athletes rotate out, seven returning letterwinners will step up to play major parts in the team and provide strong leadership to the next wave of Hilltopper football talent.
Senior Ethan Hanson will return to his role as a running back and linebacker, while seniors Andrew Berends, Tucker Lagerstrom and Harrison Chouinard band together once again as starters on the offensive line.
“Those three guys work really well together and they must lead our younger kids to fill the two open spots,” head coach Shane Strong remarked. “And Ethan will be a very important asset to us…he has worked really hard to prepare for his senior season.”
Senior Dan Loring also returns for his final season, whose speed and size will help create explosive plays in the backfield as well as in the linebacker core.
Juniors Brandyn Hallquist and Gavin Janson will take on roles in the team’s secondary positions. Coach Strong said he saw vast improvements from both athletes as last year’s season progressed and has high expectations for them this season.
Joining returning players on the field are a healthy batch of fresh faces. Battling for starting positions on both sides of the ball, we see sophomores Bryce Wickman, Brady McCarthy and Drew Olson. Strong said all three newcomers have put in the work this summer to be considered for starting spots.
Returning for his 11th year as head coach for the Toppers, Strong is enthusiastic about his roster this season and aims to improve each day and every game, with a goal of obtaining a playoff berth each season. He said that the team’s chemistry, backfield, line size, and secondary players will be the backbone of their success this season.
Strong knows the Toppers face challenging competition across the conference this year, as all three teams who claimed the 2018 conference championship are top contenders again this year. Strong points out that Mondovi has a strong core of talented players returning, while Spring Valley can claim an offensive threat with the best quarterback and fullback in the conference. At the same time, Elk Mound has the highest participation level with nearly double the number of participating athletes compared to other schools – which provides them with a lot of options. Faced with intense conference matchups, the incoming seniors and new faces will have plenty of opportunity to impress this year against meaningful opponents.
Glenwood City will travel to Clear Lake for its 2019 opener on August 23 and will stay on the road for a matchup against Thorp on August 30. They will meet with the Bulldogs for their first Dunn-St. Croix Conference game on September 6 at Boyceville’s Evenson Field.
Seniors: Andrew Berends, Ethan Berends, Harrison Chouinard, Ethan Hanson, Jordan Klatt, Tucker Lagerstrom, Cole Logghe, Dan Loring, Nick Melendrez
Juniors: Will Eggert, Brandyn Hallquist, Nick Hill, Gavin Janson
Sophomores: Mitch Bliese, Marcus DeSmith, Collin LaValley, Brady McCarthy, Justin Moe, Thomas Moede, Drew Olson, Owen Swenby, Bryce Wickman
Freshmen: Aaron Brigham, Noah Brite, Nick Hierlmeier, Max Janson, Brady Klatt, James Knight, Gabe Knops, Trenton McNamara, Jayden Quinn