Football: DL opens vs. Fargo North
After a memorable run through the football playoffs last year, thus snapping a 10-year state drought, the Detroit Lakes Lakers are hungry for more.
Many of the pieces which formed the state puzzle in 2012 are back for another potential deep run, but there is still plenty of work to be done.
“We have a lot of kids back who played last year, but we are still looking for that senior leadership, those players who will take charge,” said DL head coach Flint Motschenbacher. “We are also trying to develop some depth that you need during a long season.”
Lots of yards are returning from the arm and legs of senior quarterback Michael Herzog, who rushed for 1,420 yards and threw for 970.
The punishing rushing ability of Herzog is helping DL become the same type of physical force it once was, when the Lakers’ dynasty was at its peak in the 1990’s.
Herzog proved to be a tough player to bring down last season, averaging 4.7 yards per carry on lofty 299 carries. He added 23 rushing touchdowns, as well.
Senior running back Jarett Nosal also returns as a strong in between the tackle rusher, after running for 779 yards.
Senior Brandon Dahring will pair with Nosal as an effective one-two punch in the backfield.
“We also have some good playmakers in (senior) Casey Paskey and (junior) Sam Champa at the slots,” Motschenbacher said.
Herzog and the Lakers started finding success through the air later in their Heart O’Lakes Conference championship season, and Motschenbacher would like to expand on that facet of the game.
“Michael threw the ball well towards the end of the season and we want to throw it more,” the DL coach said. “We want more balance and (the ability to) pass when we want to.”
Herzog will have four athletic wideouts to toss the ball to in juniors Christian Hedstrom and Ryan Cihak, senior Michael Herrmann and Luke Eggebraaten.
Depth is prevalent on the offensive line, which will feature some size and some experience.
Throughout the preseason, the offensive line battles have been raging.
“I honestly can’t say who will be starting,” Motschenbacher said. “We’re hoping they won’t have to go both ways, either, but we’ll see.”
The defensive line is in the same shape as the offensive line, in that there are many players vying for playing time.
“We have up to four guys at defensive end alone,” Motschenbacher said.
Champa and Paskey bring back experience in the secondary at cornerback, while Herzog and Herrmann will fill the strong safety position, while Cihak and Hedstrom each will play at free safety.
The linebacking corps will have some seasoning in Dahring, senior Dylan Bremseth and junior Parker Jackson.
“We were 10-1 last season, but we are an entire different team this season,” Motschenbacher said.
The kickoff duties will come off the leg of Champa, while senior Luke Payne will take on the extra-point duties. Paskey is back as the Lakers’ booming punter.
The hunger of making a return trip to the state playoffs was a good motivation tool for all the players during the offseason, as well.
“The kids worked as hard as any group in the season, hopefully it will pay off for them,” Motschenbacher included.
The Lakers will defend their Section 8-4A title, with Rocori being a threat, along with Thief River Falls, Little Falls and newcomer Albany.
Lakers open at Fargo North
The 2013 campaign kicks off at Fargo North, which went 2-7 a season ago.
Despite the record, Fargo North returns a pair of North Dakota All-State players in seniors Hunter Slemmons (OL/LB) and Olaf Hanson (OL/DL).
“A lot of the guys that played in the back field last year are returning, and we have an all-state offensive lineman (Hanson) and linebacker (Slemmons) back on defense,” the coach said.
Motschenbacher wants to see a good start by his team and knows the challenge of playing what amounts to be a bigger Class 4A school will be upon the Lakers Friday.
“Their skill kids are a concern, so our defense will have to be active,” Motschenbacher said.
Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. at Fargo North.
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