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Raiders looking to continue winning ways

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The Raider skill players take off from the line of scrimmage in a preseason practice.2 / 6
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The 2010 Lake Park-Audubon football team is not too concerned about past Raider accomplishments, but they did learn something from it -- tradition.

A winning tradition is being built in LP-A after three years of successful season -- including a trip to the Class 1A state semifinals two years ago -- and this year's team, despite being inexperienced, are determined to continue it.

"I don't if these kids relate to the past, because this year is their time," said LP-A head coach Jed Swegarden. "But what it has taught them is what it takes to win and the work ethic needed."

Four seniors will anchor the Raiders this season, with three of them seeing extensive time on the field the last two years.

The cupboards are a bit bare after graduating 14 seniors off of last year's squad, but Swegarden hopes for some of the younger players to break out this season.

The three seniors who will be called upon to lead with their experience include Steve Oak, Jon Olson and Derek Braseth.

Senior John Ailie is a first-year player, as well.

"We'll have a little different philosophy this year, since we will be inexperienced in some key positions," the LP-A coach said.

The focus will still be in the rushing attack, but more so this season with a first-year quarterback.

Nelson will be the Raider's primary ball carrier, along with Chase Zeller seeing carries.

"Nelson has good feet and Chase has been waiting for his opportunity," Swegarden said. "Each brings something."

The quarterback position will be an open battle up to the first game and possibly beyond.

"There will be a rotation with some young guys and we'll see," Swegarden said. "We'll have to focus on our running game, having our running backs and offensive line moving the ball."

With some good offseason workouts, the offensive line is stronger and should be more physical.

Oak will be the leader on the line, with three of the five starters weighting between 280-300 pounds.

"They are not huge, but they are strong and in shape," Swegarden added. "They have good feet and they can get off the ball well."

Oak will man a tackle position, while Jordan Lange will be a guard.

The center position will have a smaller and quicker player in Bryce Bartunek.

"If we are going to move the ball, the O-line will have to do it for us," Swegarden said. "My only concern are defenses stacking the box with nine or 10 defenders, so we'll have to loosen them up a bit by going over the top some."

The Raider defense should be tough against the run, with Lange and Oak anchoring the line.

Zeller will be a solid linebacker, while the secondary will be filled with first-year starters.

Even though there are question marks, the outlook for the Raiders remain positive.

"Our expectations are still high, just because of our success," Swegarden said. "We have kids we are confident."

Brian Wierima
Detroit Lakes Newspapers Sports Editor for the last 15 years. St. Cloud State University graduate, who hails from Deer Creek, MN.