Strum, Augusta (WQOW) -- Dairyland Conference teams Eleva-Strum and Augusta are both setting playoff goals after postseason droughts.
Cardinals coach Chad Hanson is in his second year leading the E-S program. Hanson says the returning players have a much better handle on the offensive and defensive systems.
The Cards haven't made the WIAA playoffs since 2008, but getting to the postseason is a main goal at Eleva-Strum.
"We have a very hungry group right now," says Hanson, "they want to get Eleva-Strum back to the playoffs. We were in the playoffs from 2002 through 2008, and we've been really working with the kids in the offseason, showing them that this is what we need to do, this is what Eleva-Strum football is. It's in the playoffs year after year. So they're very motivated, very dedicated right now. When we come out to practice, they're usually out on the field before the coaches even step out of the lockerroom. So the motivation factor is a huge thing."
Hanson is the third coach at Eleva-Strum over the past four seasons, but players say they've adjusted.
"His offense is based more off the run game where the option and the blocking is a real aspect of that," says Cardinals senior linebacker/right tackle Alex Larson, "and it's been real hard to work, and we've been much better at it, than we were my freshman and sophomore year."
"The seniors before went through three different offenses," says Eleva-Strum senior offensive & defensive lineman Evan Runkel, "and it was really hard to get the hang of it, and this year we're going to come back and we're going to know the offense and we know what we're running and so it's just going to be more of an improvement."
The Cardinals kick off the season Friday, August 23, when they host Colfax.
Over in Augusta, former Eau Claire Memorial assistant Andy Jarzynski is the new head coach of the Beavers. Former Osseo-Fairchild head coach Dan Waters is helping out as an assistant.
The staff is a bit concerned about low numbers, but they're not concerned about the players' motivation to get better.
"It's been more than a couple of years since they've been to the playoffs," Jarzynski says, "a lot of times people talk about that they need to learn to win and all that sort of stuff. They need to learn to finish. I think they know how to win, I mean they've been winners at other sports in this school. So the kids just have to develop that confidence in themselves and the ability to put opponents away. They were in a lot of games that they ended up ultimately not winning last year. One little thing here, one little thing there and that could have changed."
The Beavers are heading into the season looking to throw the ball a bit more than in past years. Augusta players say everyone's working hard to impress the new coaching staff.
"Younger kids think they have a chance, more, so they're working harder," says Beavers senior fullback/defensive end Alex Knutson, "and that makes the older kids have to work harder, because it's a clean slate across."
Augusta senior quarterback Trevor Barka says, "We've got a pretty big responsibility, we've got to make sure everybody shows up, works hard, does what they're supposed to do, and doesn't slack off, and make sure that it all goes smoothly."
"It's kind of hard for seniors having to start with somebody new and re-establish yourself as a seasoned player," says senior guard/linebacker Nate Gooddell, "but I think it's an overall good experience for us to have somebody new and get some different ideas."
The Beavers begin the season at home on Friday, August 23, when Lake Holcombe/Cornell pays a visit.
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