Strum, Augusta (WQOW) — Eleva-Strum and Augusta are looking to be factors in the Dairyland Conference race, after both the Cardinals and Beavers missed out on the 2017 playoffs.
The Cardinals finished 3-6 overall last season, 2-4 in the Dairyland, one win away from playoff eligibility. Eleva-Strum started slowly but did finish strong, and with eight starters returning on each side of the ball, head coach Chad Hanson thinks those guys are ready to take the next step.
"Now we have the experience," Hanson says, "and we have the experience of knowing what it’s like to start 0-5, and starting 0-5 last year, we didn’t tuck our tails and quit, they kept playing. We finished 3-1 at the end of the year so we’re hoping to carry over that momentum that we had at the end of the season into this year."
The Cardinals got a lot of younger guys game experience last season, so players think they’re ready for a playoff push this year.
"We have a lot of speed on our team, but our linemen have a lot of power, too," says Eleva-Strum senior quarterback/defensive back Ryan Johnson," so I feel a combination of both, speed in the backfield, power up front."
"I think the biggest difference is experience," says Cardinals senior center/defensive end Connor Windjue, "and I also think that I’m out here with nine other seniors, there’s ten of us, which is an improvement from last year in terms of total number of seniors. And all of us have played, which is nice, because we’re returning experience, kids are used to the varsity speed and I think it’s just going to benefit us in the long run."
Eleva-Strum kicks off the season on Friday, August 17, when the Cardinals host Mondovi.
At Augusta, the Beavers are also looking to build on some past success. After a one-win 2016 season, Augusta won four games last year. First-year head coach Derek Boldt has six starters back on each side of the ball, but thinks team unity will determine the final record.
"They’ve got to be able to play for each other," Boldt says, "I mean, we’re not the biggest team, we’ve got some speed, but if they want to win, they can do it. They just have to set their minds to it and play for each other. I sound like a broken record here but if they want to do well, they’re going to have to do that."
The Beavers will lean on their eleven-member senior class for leadership as they try to keep improving, but players say they’ll need everyone on the roster pitching in.
"I think this year the underclassmen are going to play a major role in what we do, just because we’re not a very old team this year," says Augusta senior offensive & defensive lineman Cody Breaker, "we gotta rely on the people we have to get through what we need to do. If we do what we’re doing and everyone puts in the effort they’ve got, I think we’ll be fine this year."
"I want to make sure everyone puts their effort forward," says Beavers senior fullback/linebacker Jesse Zamora, "I don’t want to be the team or the team captains that sat back and kind of took it relaxed, I want to make sure everyone put their effort forward, we got what we wanted, and we’re just going to keep pushing for it."
Augusta gets the season started on Friday, August 17, when the Beavers host Lake Holcombe/Cornell.