Stanley, Elk Mound (WQOW) — Two teams that won conference titles last season are looking to be in the hunt again for 2018. Elk Mound captured the Dunn-St. Croix championship and Stanley-Boyd was on top of the Cloverbelt.
The Orioles title last season was their third in the past five years. In fact, Stanley-Boyd’s been either first or second in the Cloverbelt standings every season since 2011. The Orioles have been a very consistent program by not dwelling on goals, like having a certain number of wins or claiming conference titles.
"We focus as a program on process goals of the time. We talk about things they need to get done in the weight room in the summer, things they need to get done in speed training, things as far as camp attendance and stuff, just goals they set for that. Then also, once the season starts it’s about finding one thing each day to be better," says Stanley-Boyd head coach Jeff Koenig. "We’ll talk often about being three-percent better each day, and that’s one-percent better as a person, one-percent better as a student, and one-percent better as an athlete. We know we are far from the team we could possibly be right now, but thankfully we’ve got a few weeks to keep getting better."
Stanley-Boyd graduated some key performers from a 10-1 season a year ago, but do return first-team all-conference quarterback L.J. Schmelzer, who threw for 28 touchdowns and more than 1,400 yards in 2017. He’s ready for another big year running the Orioles up-tempo offense.
"Definitely a lot more comfortable, because you know a lot of the plays more," Schmelzer says. "You know them better, you know how to read everything and it’s a lot better. It’s really fast and it takes awhile to get used to, but once you get used to it, it’s really fun to run."
Senior wide receiver and defensive back Ben Milas is also excited about the offense’s potential in 2018.
"Run fast. Coach emphasizes temp a lot, which is in between plays on how fast we can get going," Milas says. "So if we can minimize that time, I think we can get more reps out and execute very well."
Stanley-Boyd begins its season Friday, August 17th on the road against Altoona.
In Elk Mound, the Mounders are coming off a 9-3 season, while also making it to Level 3 of the Division 5 playoffs. Elk Mound returns running back Brady Redwine, who was one of the state’s top rushers in 2017, but they’ll have to find some new starters in the backfield and on the offensive line, as well as several spots on defense.
"There’s been a lot of teaching, a lot of working on technique, even though there’s a lot of older kids, we’ve got a ton of younger kids that need attention too," Elk Mound head coach Dave Lew says. "I think that’s really important, especially at a school of our size, that these younger guys need a lot of reps. That’s the most important thing, get some technique, keep building, keep building, keep building, and keeping that foundation that the seniors the last few years have left us."
It’s no secret though that the Mounders’ offensive strength will once again lie in their backfield, as Redwine is coming off a season where he rushed for 2,598 yards. However, Redwine and his teammates believe last year is in the past.
"It’s a brand new season," Redwine says. "I haven’t proved anything yet, and I’ve been working hard, this team’s been working hard and we’ll see what the season has for us this year."
Lew agrees that for a successful 2018 season, the ground game will have to lead the way once again.
"Well, I don’t think it’s any secret, one of our strengths should be our run game when you’re bringing back a couple big linemen, and a couple good running backs and a good quarterback," says Lew. "I think one of the things that we need to work on is going to be our D-line. We put some new techniques in there, and corner and safety positions are going to be some things that we’re going to need to work on."
Elk Mound kicks off the season Friday, August 17th at home versus Chetek-Weyerhaeuser.