Strum, Augusta (WQOW) -- With the start of the 2014 high school football season days away, News 18 Sports Two-A-Days checks out a pair of Dairyland Conference teams.
The Cardinals look to improve upon last year's sixth place finish, when they were 2-5 in the Dairyland, and 2-7 overall. Head coach Chad Hanson says the team is ahead of where it was at this point last year, but he's still looking for team leaders.
"That's been lacking, I think, in my two years I've been the head coach at Eleva-Strum," Hanson says, "somebody needs to step up and take control of the team, and be that vocal leader, and that leader that really gets the kids going through their words and their actions."
Among the players, there's optimism after the first two weeks of practice.
"I'm real excited to see what this team can do," says Eleva-Strum senior running back/linebacker Gage Everson, "I feel like we have a fair chance in the conference, I think we're going to have a good season."
"If we can build some leadership in the beginning here, and then stay healthy," says Hanson, "I think we have a chance to compete with anybody in the conference, but we gotta get some wins to build some confidence in our kids."
The Cardinals kick off the season on Friday, August 22, at Colfax.
Augusta is heading into its second year under head coach Andy Jarzynski. The Beavers return eight starters from a squad that finished 3-7 overall last season. The Beavers say they'll take advantage of their size up front and feature the running game.
"We've changed the offense up a little bit this year to take advantage of our size and strength," says Jarzynski, "we're quite large up front and the kids have worked really hard in the weight room and gotten a lot stronger. So, we're going to try to bring the ball at people as much as we can. We're going to do a lot less option and much more straight-forward stuff. We're going to be as aggressive as possible."
Depth will be an issue at Augusta, which has only 25 players out for football. That puts the onus on getting the younger players up to speed.
"We have to work with them," says Beavers senior offensive lineman/linebacker Matthew Stanek, "we have to guide them along and give them a little shove every once in awhile. Let them know how to do it."
"We played as freshmen too," says Augusta senior tight end/defensive end Connor Larson, "so we know what it feels like to play on the varsity level. So we have to tell them how it feels like and get them ready for that."
"We've been in this program a lot," says Beavers senior offensive & defensive lineman Chris Lato, "mostly since we were freshmen like them, so we need to teach them and tell them everything we know to get them ready for game time."
The Beavers open the season on the road, Friday, August 22, at Lake Holcombe/Cornell.
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