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Blue Devils bring back a young but experienced group for 2019

Menomonie (WQOW) – The UW-Stout football team saw their second most wins last season since the 2011 season. And this year, the Blue Devils bring 16 starters on both sides of the ball and will rely on their experience.

They had a handful of close games that slipped away in 2018. So the group’s plan this year is to tighten up on the fundamentals and basics.

“We lost one overtime game, and we lost two other games by less than a score,” say senior safety Jed Schlegel. “It’s going to be about not having turnovers, and getting rid of those big plays. Coaches are doing a good job with us, making us work on the little things and getting better.”

For a team that is hoping to move up in the WIAC standings in 2019, those little tweaks could mean everything.

“Last year we lost a tough one to La Crosse in overtime. If we win that game, we’re probably sitting at second in the conference,” says head coach Clayt Birmingham. “Our goal is to finish in the top three, so we just got to take it one game at a time and make the three to five play a game. That’s what’s going to make a win or loss.”

One area that seems is to clicking for the Blue Devils in camp so far, is the wide receiver group. Three sophomores return from last season, two of which earned all-conference honors last year as freshmen. The group combined for 126 catches for 13 touchdowns in 2018, and will also add senior Kevion McDonald to the mix, who was sidelined all of 2018 with an injury.

“I like our wide receiver crew. I think we have a lot of depth, if not one of the deepest positions we’ve got,” says Birmingham.  “A lot of talented guys that were only freshmen last year. And then we return Kevion McDonald as well, and he was a pretty lucky find a couple years ago. So plenty of talent there, and now we’ve just got to figure out who to give the ball to.”

“It helps to have the younger guys,” says McDonald. “They were fresh last year, but now they know everything and it can help to advance their game. I can come back and hopefully keep up with them.”

UW-Stout opens their 2019 season on Saturday, September 7th at home, hosting third-ranked St. Johns University at 1 p.m.

Rebecca Fiala

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