Eau Claire, Altoona (WQOW) -- News 18 Sports Two-A-Days continue with stops at a pair of Cloverbelt rivals.
Eau Claire Regis had its season end in the sectional finals last year, missing a trip to state by just one game. Coach Bryant Brenner says his team graduated a lot of talent and is looking for some players to step up.
"It's going to be tough to win some games here this year, we really lose a lot of our speed from last year, those guys could really run. So we're not very fast, we're really going to have to play great defense and not turn the ball over to stay competitive," says Brenner.
Because of the losses, Brenner says there are a number of starting spots up for grabs.
"We've got a lot of guys that came out and are excited to be here," adds Brenner. "A lot of guys are getting an opportunity, and we'll see where we are at. Our passing game is going to be a real question mark, our defensive pass coverage will probably be a question mark. We're going to have to play great defense up front. We do have a few guys back up front on our defense. We're going to have to rely on those guys and hang onto the ball on offense."
Regis' first opponent will be Altoona. The team has won just three games in the last three years, but optimism is high at the Rails practices this week. Altoona has a new head coach, with Ben Coenen taking over for long-time coach Gary Pszeniczny.
"We've been really focusing on change and that's the motto that we've been going by. We've got a new coach, new offense, new defense, we're really looking forward to getting back to it," says senior quarterback Jake Eckardt. "You know, we've been talking a lot about how our season should play out. And we're not going to count wins and losses at this point. We just have to go out there and play the game. I mean, playoffs are not out of our reach."
Coenen becomes the first new head coach for Altoona in more than 15 years. He says kids have taken to his new system.
"They're off to a really good start as far as being together and working hard during our four contact days this year. And overall the atmosphere here is really impressive to me right now the kids are respectful and they're working hard and we're hoping for big things," says Coenen. "We're going to compete for positions here over the next couple of weeks, we're going to compete in everything we have to do. And over the long haul, we're hoping that the kids ability to learn how to compete and maybe master that as a skill, leads them to competing on Friday night and ultimately leads to some victories on the football field."
The Rails and Ramblers open up the season August 24th in Altoona.
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