Lakeland vs. Northwestern (MN) Preview
Athletics - posted on 8/31/2005
Lakeland kicks off its highly-anticipated 2005 season Saturday when it hosts the Northwestern College (Minn.) Eagles. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at Taylor Field.
The Muskies, the co-defending Illini-Badger Football Conference champions, return 15 starters from last year's conference championship team. Last season, Lakeland rolled up 559 yards of offense en route to a 47-7 season-opening win at Northwestern.
The season opener will be the debut of some big changes in Lakeland's backfield. Running backs Marcus Denham (junior) and Nick Hunter (senior) have moved to the defense, and junior Aaron Barrie and sophomore Shawn Lee will start the year as the primary ball carriers. Barrie, who is expected to receive most of the carries, averaged almost 60 yards a game last season, while Lee saw action in three games.
Ryan Maiuri returns as starting quarterback for the second year. The senior, who is known for his ability to scramble, rushed for 75 yards while throwing for 134 yards and two touchdowns against the Eagles last year and will see almost all of his receiving corps return this year.
Trying to stop the Muskie offense will be the Eagles' defense led by senior linebacker Dennis Holsman, who had nine tackles in last year's game. Nine of the 11 starters for the Northwestern defense saw action in last season's game.
Northwestern sophomore quarterback Aaron Hunter saw limited action last season calling the signals, throwing just five passes for 170 yards and two TDs over the course of the year. The main targets for Hunter this year will be sophomores Jeremy Daggett, Josh Lundeen and senior Ben Wolcyn. Interestingly, the leading receiver for the Eagles in last season's game, junior Jamie Barrett, will be starting this season second on the two deep. The Eagles will be returning their leading halfback, junior Ben Freedman, who rushed for 58 yards in the game last year on 17 carries. A big key for Northwestern will be Hunter's performance as a starter.
Lakeland's defense will have a mixture of old and new faces. The defensive line will be solid with returnees junior James Washington, sophomore Josh Labelle, and senior David Benton. In addition, former All-Conference honoree junior Shane Schrimpf, will be making his debut at tackle after missing all of last season with an injury. Senior Ryan Van De Loo returns at inside linebacker this season, where he will be joined by Hunter at his new position.
The defensive backs will be fairly young this season with sophomore Josh Scramm the only experienced returnee, with junior Tyrece Warner and sophomore Cleveland Pierce bringing limited experience to the field. Also starting Saturday will be freshmen John Wagner and Brent Miller, who will be making their college debuts at the outside linebacker positions. A key for Lakeland will be the ability of the secondary to respond to the pressure that Northwestern will undoubtedly throw at them.
After several weeks of camp, the Muskies will use their season debut to answer some questions before squaring off with two nationally ranked in-state foes in weeks two and three.
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