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Raiders hope to build on 2011 success

Some players are getting trained on proper techniques.1 / 7
Blocking should be a strength for the athletic Raiders.2 / 7
LP-A quarterback Mason Swegarden hopes to see plenty of these kind of catches this season.3 / 7
Assistant Coach Brad Dunham4 / 7
Assistant Coach Cole Wixo5 / 7
Head Coach Jed Swegarden6 / 7
First Row: Ryan Olson, Paul Jenson, Chance Lefebvre, Reese Mattson, Clay Anderson, Bryant Briard, Trent Rosing, Jimmy Kohler Jr., Brady Mann, Hunter Christianson, Payton Block, Aaron Felker, David Brown. Second Row: Isaiah Ruhl, Andrew Erickson, Dustin Morrow, Westin Munson, Nate Renner, Mason Swegarden, Alex Tangen, Garret Munson, Tory Haglund, Taylor Briard, Kyle Svare, Jake Sherbrooke, Tyler King, Jonah Lange. Third Row: Wyatt Monroe, Mitchell Zerr, Tim Brekken, Zachary Svare, James Forsberg, Chri...7 / 7

The Lake Park-Audubon football team looks to be on another upswing after finishing the 2011 regular season 6-2 and a strong core returning.

The Raiders will look to be bigger and faster, despite losing leading rusher Chase Zeller, while employing experienced offensive and defensive lines.

"We had a lot of kids taking part in speed and strength conditioning this summer, so there have been some huge improvements," said LP-A head coach Jed Swegarden. "Our big key is to staying healthy, because our depth isn't the best."

The Raiders return junior quarterback Mason Swegarden, who will be a second-year starter. Swegarden, who is the son of Jed, will take on more responsibility in his second year.

"His responsibility last year was to distribute the ball to our running backs, but this year, he will be included more into the offense," Jed Swegarden said.

Senior Nate Renner will take over the rushing duties in the backfield, while Swegarden's targets down the field will include seniors Andrew Erickson, Dylan Larson, junior Isaiah Pearson and sophomore Jon Olson.

"We are athletic offensive-wise," Jed Swegarden said.

The strength will come with the offensive line, where senior guard Mathew Pepper returns, along with senior guard John Engeseth.

Senior tackle Zach Svare provides the size and will be joined by a host of other underclassmen vying to fill the rest of the line.

"We'll be able to pull Mat a lot because of his athleticism and he is also much stronger this year," Swegarden said. "We should be able to rush the ball effectively, as well as throw."

Pepper will be an anchor of the defense from his inside linebacker position, while Renner will also play inside, along with Engeseth, who will clamp down the middle at the tackle position.

Svare will also be a main contributor on the line.

In the secondary, Larson, Erickson and Swegarden will patrol the defensive backfield.

The expectations have risen after a solid season last year and a good amount of experience returning for 2012.

"They have belief in each other," Swegarden included.

The Raiders were the No. 4 seed last year in the Section 6-1A playoffs, despite their 6-2 record. So it will be another tough section this year, with Pillager, Ottertail Central, West Central, Royalton and Browerville included.

"I think we will be right in the mix of things, though," the LP-A coach said. "It's not going to be easy, but if we stay healthy, we can be right up there with the top teams in the section."

The Raiders also will be hoping to test out their new digs at the new LP-A high school, which is opening for this school season.

Unfortunately, the field is not quite ready for the opener and may not be for the season.

"We're hoping maybe for Homecoming, but we are not sure how the field will grow in, yet," Swegarden added.

Raiders Schedule

8/31 7:00 PM Walker-Hackensack-Akeley (99A)

9/7 7:00 PM @ Fertile-Beltrami  (8A)  

9/14 7:00 PM Frazee  (8AA)  

9/21 7:00 PM @ Fosston  (8A)  

9/28 7:00 PM @ Red Lake County Rebels (8A)  

9/28 7:00 PM @ Red Lake County Rebels (8A)  

10/5 7:00 PM Mahnomen  (8A)  

10/12 7:00 PM Warren-Alvarado-Oslo  (8A)  

10/17 7:00 PM @ Pillager  (6A)  

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