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Laker football young, but eager, for 2008 season

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Laker football young, but eager, for 2008 season
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

There will be only three players returning from the 9-1 Detroit Lakes football team from a year ago, as the Lakers look to pursue a second consecutive North Country Conference title.

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For that to happen, the Lakers will have to rely on some -- correct that -- many new faces to fill the roles of the players who propelled DL to an 8-0 regular season record.

"We are extremely young and inexperienced," said DL head coach Flint Motschenbacher. "I think they will develop over the course of the season, but it may take some time."

The Lakers return two starters on offense and just one on the defensive side of the ball.

Senior fullback Dustin Rietsema returns as the primary ball carrier, after a 2007 season in which he rushed for a team-high 1,049 yards on 197 carries, for an average of 5.3 yards per carry.

He also scored 11 rushing touchdowns throughout the season.

Even though Rietsema is listed as a fullback and can pound the ball between the tackles, he has shown the ability to break long runs and the speed to outrun even defensive secondary players.

"Dustin will definitely be one of the players we will be relying on," Motschenbacher said. "It's nice to know we have him back there rushing the ball. He will be more physical this year, too, more of a workhorse for us."

Gone is two-year starting quarterback Chris Gilson, who was as consistent a starter at the position as a team could expect. Gilson was the team's second-leading rusher, with 636 yards, and also threw for 905 yards, going 48-100 along with a 9-6 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

His QB rating for the year was 84.79.

Replacing Gilson will be last year's second-string QB, senior Reed Oistad, who brings a dynamic blend of versatility to the position. He saw limited time in 2007, going 5-6 for 79 yards and one touchdown.

"Reed has looked good so far in (preseason) practice, but he is lacking quality game reps," Motschenbacher said. "He throws the ball well and will develop into a solid quarterback. Reed is very capable of doing everything we need him to do."

With the slotback still a prevalent option for the Laker offense, they have two prototypical runners for the positions.

Seniors Aaron Gnoinsky and Max Knoll each possess qualities of a good slotback -- fast, shifty and a low-center of gravity, to be a pair of runners tough to take down by oncoming linebackers.

Junior Brett Provo also fits in that category and will see time as a slotback, along with sophomore Connor Hedstrom.

Last year's starting slotback, Ben Magnuson, gained 270 yards on 35 carries. The slotback option allows the Lakers to attack the perimeter of the defensive line, to keep them honest on the inside run.

"Our offense is dictated by what the defense gives us," Motschenbacher said. "Some games, Dustin and the inside game will get the numbers, sometimes it will be the slotbacks or it could be Reed throwing for yards."

The slotbacks also provide a good option for Oistad in the flat or down the seams, with the speedy and shifty would-be receivers picking up some good yards after the catch.

The wide receiving corps will be basically all new, with the loss of some hitters from last year.

Adam Thielen -- now at Minnesota State University Mankato playing football -- hauled in a team-high 20 receptions for 535 yards (an average of 26.8 per catch) for seven touchdowns.

Those looking to haul in some of Oistad's passes will be freshman Joe Mollberg -- who provides a big, tall target -- junior Mark Labat and sophomore Josh Stahlberger, who is another tall receiver.

Junior Patrick Williams returns as the lone offensive lineman. Some seasoning comes from junior center Justin Holm and senior Tim Fouquette (195 pounds).

"We have battles across the front by a lot of guys," Motschenbacher said. "Again, we're going to be pretty inexperienced there. We have some good size, but most are inexperienced on the varsity level."

Those vying for time on the line will be junior Tyson Libby (220 pounds), seniors Michael Kohler (275), Rob Richards (240) Dustin Matson (235) and sophomore Andrew Johnson.

The Johnson trio -- juniors Brock, Davis and senior Alex -- along with sophomore Ben Lindquist will play defensive end.

"We'll find the best five linemen," Motschenbacher said.

Holm and senior Tom Andring return on the defensive line after seeing part time there in 2007, while senior Zane Kotschevar has the most experience back at the linebacking position.

Kohler and Matson will bring some physical play to the line, while junior Alex Feldt will join Kotschevar as an outside linebacker.

The two inside linebacker positions will be filled by junior Paul Voeltz and Williams.

"We have a good mix of strength and speed at linebacker," the DL coach said.

In the secondary -- again, to be filled by all new varsity players -- junior Nate Duchene, senior Luke Champa and sophomore Logan Baker will play at safety.

Rietsema and Stahlberger will see time at free safety, while the cornerback slots will be filled by Gnoinsky, Knoll and junior Andy Pedersen.

The season starts out with a tough challenge, with Mankato East coming to town Friday. The Cougars and Lakers have a bit of history from the 2001 State Class 4A championship game, in which DL scored a 36-34 victory.

"They are the real deal and have a new coach (head coach John Leverenz, formerly of Bloomington Jefferson) and coaching staff," Motschenbacher said of the season opener. "We don't really know what they will be running, we'll just have to adjust on the fly."

Another concern of the Lakers and Motschenbacher will be the schedule for 2009.

As of now, DL has only four games scheduled, and it will be more difficult to add any more games, especially if the North Country Conference folds.

"That's a real, major concern of ours right now, is if we can have a full schedule next year," Motschenbacher said. "We lose Thief River Falls (which is going to the HOL Conference), Shanley, Wahpeton and Mankato East off our schedule from this year.

"We're losing half our schedule."

The Lakers do have five home games this year: Mankato East (Aug. 29), Thief River Falls (Sept. 5), Grand Rapids (Sept. 12), Fargo Shanley (Oct. 3) and Duluth East (Oct. 15).

They travel to Duluth Central (Sept. 19), Duluth Denfeld (Sept. 26) and Wahpeton, N.D. (Oct. 10).

Laker 2007 stats

2007 Detroit Lakes season stats:?8-0 (1-1 playoffs).

Lakers 353, Opponents 123

Detroit Lakes -80 121 83 69 -- 353

Opponents - 19 21 42 41 -- 123

Scoring

Chris Gilson -- 108 points (18 rushing TDs).

Dustin Rietsema -- 66 points (11 rushing TDs).

Ben Magnuson -- 51 points (3 rushing TD, 33-43 PAT?kicks).

Adam Thielen -- 46 points (7 receiving TD and 2 PAT reception).

Reed Oistad -- 19 points (2 rushing TD, 1-2 PAT?kicks, 1 returned INT?for TD).

Mike Brodsho -- 14 points (1 receiving, 1 rushing TD, 1 receiving PAT).

Josh Tweeton -- 12 points (2 rushing TD).

Josh Herzog -- 12 points (2 interception returns).

Kyle Muckenhirn -- 6 points (1 receiving TD).

Jared Swiers -- 6 points (1 punt block for TD).

Nathan Duchene -- 6 points (1 rushing TD).

Ryan Kuehne -- 6 points?(1 receiving TD).

Brock Johnson -- 1 point (1-3 PAT kicks).

DL Opp

First Downs 140 98

By Rushing 106 66

By passing 30 30

By penalty 4 2

Net Yards Rushing 2530 1333

No. rushes 446 353

Yards gained 2668 1563

Yards lost 138 230

Net Yards Passing 984 735

No. passes 108 146

Completed 53 65

Incomplete 47 65

Had intercepted 6 16

Interception yards 189 127

Total Offensive Plays 590 549

TOTAL NET YARDS 3514 2068

Kickoffs 56 27

Yards 2592 1210

Ave. kickoff 46.3 44.8

Kickoffs Returned 24 57

Yards 429 780

Ave. return 17.9 13.7

Fumbles 20 25

Fumbles lost 9 13

Penalties 62 37

Yards 499 282

* * *

Individual Rushing

DL --

Player NR YG YL Net

Dustin Rietsema 197 1057 8 1049

Chris Gilson 97 709 73 636

Ben Magnuson 35 284 14 270

Josh Tweeton 38 170 2 168

Mike Brodsho 21 125 9 116

Nathan Duchene 8 73 0 73

Aaron Gnoinsky 9 64 3 61

Reed Oistad 8 56 2 54

Andy Pedersen 11 49 4 45

Jarod Griffith 6 48 6 42

Alex Feldt 9 28 0 28

Jed Arneson 2 9 1 8

Jake Stalberger 4 12 12 0

Mark Labat 1 0 0 0

T.J. Manning 2 2 4 -2

* * *

Individual Passing

Player No Comp Inc Int Yds TD

DL --

Gilson 100 48 46 6 905 9

Oistad 6 5 1 0 79 1

Magnuson 1 0 0 0 0 0

Brodsho 1 0 0 0 0 0

* * *

Pass Receiving

Player No. Yds. TD

DL --

Adam Thielen 20 535 7

Ryan Kuehne 8 140 1

Magnuson 7 63 0

Mike Brodsho 6 133 1

Kyle Muckenhirn 3 23 1

Griffith 3 11 0

Rietsema 2 38 0

Gnoinsky 2 21 0

Luke Champa 1 12 0

* * *

Kickoffs

Player No. Yds. Ave.

DL --

Jake Vavricka 50 2344 46.9

Brock Johnson 6 248 41.3

* * *

Kickoffs Returned

Player No. Yds. Ave.

DL --

Magnuson 11 220 20

Griffith 4 88 22

Rietsema 2 45 22.5

Oistad 2 23 11.5

Thielen 2 21 10.5

Labat 1 13 13

Brodsho 1 12 12

Muckenhirn 1 7 7

* * *

Pass Interceptions

Player No. Yds.

DL -

Thielen 4 0

Oistad 3 99

Josh Herzog 2 72

Griffith 2 15

Justin Holm 1 3

Brodsho 1 0

Andy Pedersen 1 0

Gilson 1 0

Max Knoll 1 0

* * *

Sacks

Player No. Yds. lost

DL -

Jared Swiers 6.5 48

A.J. Lewandowski 3 22

Alex Lewandowski 2.5 21

Holm 2 13

Johnson 1.5 18

Tom Andring 1.5 6

Herzog 1 8

Vavricka 1 12

Luke Champa 1 5

Knoll .5 8

Zane Kotschevar .5 4.

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