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After a month of practice, drills and scrimmages, the Lakeland College football team is looking to start the season strong.
The Muskies kick of the 2011 season when they travel to Waukesha, Wis., Saturday to face the Pioneers of Carroll University.
The Muskies are hoping to reverse a recent early-season trend. Lakeland hasn't won a season opener since beating Northwestern (Minn.) in 2005, a 27-15 victory. The trend continued with a 35-21 loss to Carroll in 2010.
The Pioneers return six starters on both offense and defense from a team that finished second in the Midwest Conference with a 7-3 record. Overall, Carroll is an experienced team, and the difference may be the play of the young quarterbacks.
The Muskies will look to gain valuable experience in non-conference games after going 1-2 in non-conference games in 2010.
The Muskies are young on offense, returning just five starters from a unit that averaged 23.9 points and 293.9 yards per game last season. Lakeland will need seniors Adam Miller (RB, Marion, Wis.) and Eric Zuelsdorf (TE, Cedar Grove, Wis.) to provide leadership on the field and keep the offense composed.
Defensively, the Muskies look to rebuild a unit that has been solid under defensive coordinator Colin Bruton. Bruton faces his toughest task since joining the Lakeland staff, with eight new starters and the need to replace All-NAC cornerbacks Keith Woodson and Isaiah Calhoun. Seniors Tony Faller (DB, Oostburg, Wis.) and Jason Bruggink (DE, Plymouth, Wis.) will anchor a group that looks to impress.
Lakeland head coach Kevin Doherty said the key to a victory comes down to one thing - staying focused.
To see what other things Doherty thinks needs to happen in order to be successful, click here.
To see what Bruton has to say about his defense, click here.
Live stats of Saturdays game are available here: http://athletics.carrollu.edu/livestats/xlive.htm
live video is available here: www.pennatlantic.com