Bangor High School football coach Rick Muellenberg earned the chance to stand on the turf and Camp Randall Stadium in Madison and hold up a championship trophy last season. Teams all around Wisconsin are trying to put themselves in the same position in 2018.
We are 11 days away from Central High School quarterback Johnny Davis taking a snap, dropping back and looking to rifle or lob the football toward his brother, Jordan, for a big gain.
We are 11 days away from seeing a batch of new faces — not all of them, mind you — try to keep Bangor moving forward after winning the WIAA Division 7 state championship by squaring off with Melrose-Mindoro.
We are 12 days away from the first chance to see West Salem running back Brendan Holt break away from the pack and try to score his first touchdown of the season, and 12 days away from seeing how many opponents Holmen’s Tate Grass can flatten on his way toward anyone carrying the ball.
Does the beginning of a football season carry the same excitement of a playoff or championship game? No, it doesn’t.
But the difference isn’t as big as you might think.
This is the time of year when hope springs eternal. No one has lost a game yet.
Some teams, of course, have a much better chance at succeeding than others. But every team still has an opportunity to achieve something important — whatever that may be — to its existence.
Starting Tuesday, we will share more about local teams and some of the things to watch over the next couple of months. The Tribune Super 24 we are unveiling today is one of many new forms of coverage that you will see this fall.
From lacrossetribune.com to Twitter, and from the Tribune’s Facebook page to its YouTube channel, watch for podcasts, stories and videos about your favorite teams this fall.
Here are a few things to think about until games begin on Aug. 16:
Central went winless in the MVC in 2015 before winning two games in 2016 and four last season. The Red Raiders have won three conference titles since 2000 after winning five in the 1990s and want to take a step into championship contention.
Onalaska hasn’t won three straight conference titles during its time in the MVC or Coulee — that dates back to 1959 — and would love to make a new kind of history this season. Junior Nate Lubinsky, a running back and safety, is waiting in the wings to do his part.
There is a contingent of people who think West Salem is still too small to compete in the MVC, but don’t try to tell the guys wearing the uniforms that. The Panthers tied Onalaska and Holmen for the championship last year and have John Glassmaker ready to dominate on either side of the line to try and turn that one title into a streak.
The MVC is a tough one to pick this season with those three teams and Holmen — the largest school in the area and the home to Grass, lineman Caleb Butler and running back/defensive back Kevin Koelbl — duking it out.
The Coulee Conference isn’t much easier. G-E-T contends just about every year, and guys like Bryce Burns and Garrett Eddy will try to steer it down the winning path and continue a 10-game conference winning streak that has produced two straight titles.
Westby welcomes lights and night games to the football field it opened two years ago — along with seniors Ryan Daines and Alex Gluch — to go along for the ride it hopes includes a challenge to the Red Hawks and their recent dominance.
Bangor, for the second time in three seasons, will navigate a schedule as a returning state champion in the effort to win the Scenic Bluffs for a fifth year in a row and build on a 25-game SBC winning streak. Having players like Brendan Burke, Carter Horstman and Grant Manke around will help that process.
No high school team in the state can match De Soto’s 33 playoff appearances, and only four — Menomonie (28), Waupaca (26), Stratford (26) and Wrightstown (23) — can top the Pirates’ current streak of 22 consecutive postseasons. That puts some pressure on the shoulders of a group expected to be led by senior Brock Venner, but De Soto players have become accustomed to that.
Will anyone be able to stop Melrose-Mindoro from winning the Dairyland for the third year in a row with Landon Lockington, Brett Gerdes and Kyle Stair around?
Teams will prepare to answer these questions and play out these scenarios for the next two weeks before the glorious nine weeks of regular-season football that follows.