Football set for strong start in season opener against Central
Athletics - posted on 9/2/2009
The Lakeland College football team will look for revenge in its 2009 season opener as it will hosts Central College at Taylor field this Saturday at 1 p.m.
The Muskies dropped their 2008 opener 41-0 to Central in Pella, Iowa. The Muskie offense was held to 92 yards of offense on the day and maintained possession for just over 20 minutes as the Dutch won their 28th consecutive regular season game.
The Dutch bring back five starters on offense and eight starters from a team that finished 6-4 on the year but lost two games by a combined five points and a third contest in overtime. Against a Central squad that is consistent on both sides of the ball, Lakeland coach Kevin Doherty knows his team will need to play a similar style this time around.
"The biggest thing we need to do on offense is prevent mistakes and execute our game plan," Doherty said. "We need to take advantage of the things that they give us. We can't afford to miss blocks and give up sacks as well as make all of our throws and catches."
Lakeland enters the non-conference season after a 5-5 season in 2008, ending the season a game short of being 2009 Northern Athletics Conference champions and receiving an automatic NCAA playoff bid. With the conference title on the line, the Muskies dropped their final game of the season to NAC leader Aurora 24-6.
The Muskies return plenty of experience on offense with seven starters returning from a unit that averaged 27 points per game in conference play last season. Junior quarterback Jake Dworak (Denmark) threw for 1,872 yards and 22 touchdowns in eight games last season. The strong point of the Lakeland offense will continue to be at wide receiver as Jake Heinemeyer (Shiocton) and Roberto Flores (Milwaukee) will be counted on to provide leadership to a group being counted on to provide a majority of offensive firepower this season.
"We've made some solid improvement on offense since the start of training camp," Doherty said. "We're established at our positions and feel good about where we're at as a football team. We're doing a good job of executing and focusing on improvements in our running game and committing turnovers.
Defensively, four of 11 starters remain as the Muskies lose two of the top linebackers in the conference last season in 2008 NAC defensive player of the year John Wagner and second team All-NAC selection Brent Miller. Junior Keith Woodson (Evanston, Ill.) and sophomore Tony Faller (Oostburg) will be expected to lead by example from the secondary as the defense switches exclusively to a 3-3-5 formation.
"We lost a lot of people on defense including some very good linebackers and linemen but we've looked pretty good so far in camp," Faller said. "Central is ranked 14th in the country (Lindy's) so we're going to have to play hard on defense if we want to win.
For Doherty, the key this weekend comes down to one thing; keep the Central offense on the sideline.
"On defense we need to create a lot of three and outs to make Central punt, and that starts with containing quarterback Nate Snead," Doherty said. "He's a big, physical quarterback who does a great job of throwing the ball but can also run with it and is a multiple-threat quarterback. They're well-coached and we need to cut down our mistakes to compensate for their effectiveness."
Despite their struggles last season against Central, Faller believes Lakeland has at least one key factor in its favor this weekend.
"Central had 6,000 people at the game last year and intimidation played a big factor," Faller said. "Being able to play them at home in front of our fans will help make us feel more comfortable."
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