Durand, Baldwin (WQOW) -- Durand and Baldwin-Woodville both hope to contend this season in the Middle Border Conference.
Durand took second place in the MBC last season with a 5-2 record. The Panthers wound up
8-3 overall, and advanced to Level 2 of the WIAA Division 4 playoffs. Durand did that running a brand-new offense in 2011. Head coach Rod Rosemeyer says the team is ahead of schedule compared to this time last year.
"The guys have set some pretty high goals for the season," says Rosemeyer, we've got a nice core of returning juniors and seniors, we don't have a lot of depth so we've got to make sure we stay injury-free, but the guys are really looking forward to the season and have some high goals."
"We have them all posted in our locker room and our weight room, we have a lot of high goals for ourselves," says senior Jake Weber, "and we're going to take it one game at a time and hope for the best."
Weber was one of the most dynamic players in the MBC last season. He was the conference's leading rusher (1,141 yards) as well as its 3rd-leading passer (519 yards).
The Panthers hope to compete for a Middle Border title, but they know defending conference champion and Division 4 state runner-up Somerset will be a major obstacle.
"We want to be able to compete at their level," Rosemeyer says, "last year we played with them close until the fourth quarter, a couple turnovers at the end kind of hurt us, so we know if we're at their level, we're playing pretty good football."
"Somerset's always been good," Weber says, "they have a great, great program, and they're on the calendar for us, but we gotta take it one game at a time, because everyone in the Middle Border can play, and we can't take anyone for granted."
Durand kicks off the season with a non-conference game at Mondovi, Friday, August 24.
Baldwin-Woodville was a playoff team last year, the Blackhawks lost in Level 1 of the WIAA Division 4 postseason, to cap of a 5-5 overall record. B-W was a respectable 4-3 in the Middle Border in 2011. Head coach Dan Keefer says numbers are down this season, so building depth is a priority.
"You know, our top-line guys are tough as heck," Keefer says, "we're really working on building depth, because we all know that injuries are going to happen, and we're trying to get our guys geared up, but you can't ask for more, they're tremendous kids, and they're working their butts off, so it makes coaching a lot of fun."
"We got a lot of new guys coming up, especially on the line,"says Blackhawks senior running back/linebacker Derek Weyer, "I just think we got to play tough, and hard, and hit some people, I think we'll be all right, we got a lot of speed, I think we'll be okay on offense and defense."
Keefer knows the Middle Border Conference will be very tough, but he thinks if things go the Blackhawks' way, they'll be in the mix.
"We've got a lot of good teams," Keefer says, "for us to be there we gotta stay healthy and we gotta get some breaks, but it's definitely in the realm of possibility, we do have some talented kids, and if we can stay healthy we'll be a tough team for people to beat."
"We only have a class of four seniors this year," says Weyer, "but the junior class really, really worked their tails off this offseason and they're really stepping up as leaders, and that's a good thing, too."
Baldwin-Woodville opens the season at St. Croix Central on Friday, august 24.
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