Football: Tigers rebuilding aerial attack
LAKE CITY – By land and by air, Lake City’s offense was one of the most feared in Class 3A last season.
In 2013, the Tigers still have two of the top running backs in southeastern Minnesota in seniors Elliot Cox and Will Balow, who combined accounted for 1,436 yards and 24 touchdowns on the ground in 2012.
But for Lake City to become the offensive dynamo it was a year ago, a new-look passing attack, led by a new quarterback and a slew of new receivers, hopes to get up to speed before the Tigers open the season on Aug. 30 against St. Charles.
“We graduated some phenomenal players at both the skill positions and the offensive line,” said Tigers’ head coach Trevor Narum, who coached Class 3A’s second-highest scoring offense last season with 42.3 points per game.
“Once we gain some experience – because we don’t have much varsity experience at certain positions – we could get back to that point. We’ll just see how that all plays out.”
Getting the chance behind center is senior Reid Lundell, who has the task of replacing All-Area signal-caller Ben Schramski. Schramski, who is headed to Division II Concordia-St. Paul on a football scholarship, threw for 1,427 yards and 17 touchdowns with just five interceptions last year.
Lundell has no intentions of trying to emulate Schramski’s statistical success as a passer. But with a mix of his arm and legs, he’s hoping to lead Lake City to similar results on the field.
“You can’t replace a guy like Ben, who throws one of the best balls you’ll see,” Lundell said. “He was more of a pocket passer and I’m more of a dual threat kind of quarterback.”
So far, the Tigers feel like they got the right kind of playmaker behind center in Lundell.
“He’s athletic and he runs well, and he’s a bigger kid; he’s built like a fullback, so we may run with him a little more than we have run a quarterback in the past,” Narum said. “Reid’s a very heady ball player. He makes good decisions and he always seems to get the ball in the right place.”
Finding targets to throw to also poses a problem for the Tigers. Gone are All-Area wideouts Jake Griebenow and Coleman Sweeney, along with tight end Christian Custer. Lined up on the outside, Griebenow and Sweeney accounted for 35 catches for 911 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Some of the new receivers looking to spark Lake City’s passing game are Matt Glasenapp, Brady Kuchinka, Derek Bremer, Jesse Oliver and Eli Custer.
And like a perfect spiral, the wideouts are catching on during the first week of practice.
“We’ve had a lot of guys put in some work in the offseason, and our passing game has looked good in practice,” Glasenapp said.
Lundell added, “Matt, Derek, Brady, Custer and I, we’ve built a good relationship so far.”
Even before Lake City suited up for practice this week, Lundell and the Tigers’ receivers were busy building a rapport over the summer.
“We were 7-on-7 champions at Winona’s football camp as a team,” Glasenapp said. “Our (passing) scheme is really great and we have been working on it all summer. We got our timing down and have really good technique on our routes. Our quarterbacks are making good reads out there.”
There is still some growing pains Lake City will go through with only two starters back on the offensive line. But with a strong run game already in place, the Tigers’ passing game hopes to hold up its end of the firepower.
“We got some young kids at the wide receiver position that are athletic and can do some nice things,” Narum said. “These new guys can pick up where (last year’s) players were as long as they learn and pick things up.”