Menomonie (WQOW) — Coming off their 29th straight trip to the postseason, head coach Joe LaBuda and his Mustangs are ready to make another run at a Big Rivers Conference title.
LaBuda enters his 31st year with Menomonie, and has some experience returning on both sides of the ball. The offense has five starters coming back, while the defense rosters eight. That includes first-team all-conference defensive back Davis Barthan, who will help lead a very talented and experienced secondary. For LaBuda, it’s all about having leadership return, and players that know their roles.
“We’re in a whole different situation then we were last year. Last year we only had three returning starters on the whole team, and this year we have eight returning starters on the defense,” says LaBuda. “So it makes things a lot easier. Still have to focus on the fundamentals and techniques, but it’s just a little easier if they’ve already gone through it and have an understanding of it.”
Menomonie is coming off a 7-3 season overall, tying for second-place in the conference. But a new year brings a new team, which is one of Labuda’s favorite challenges of coaching every year.
“The great thing about being a coach is the same thing as being a teacher, it’s like having a new job every year,” LaBuda says. “Each team is different, and everybody has a different makeup and different chemistry. I like our group of guys. We’ve got a group of guys that have been really committed, and it’s a group of guys that really care about each other.”
The Mustangs open the season on the road in a non-conference game against Lake Mills on August 22nd.