Football: Area at a glance
Cannon Falls Bombers
Last year: 6-5, lost Section 1AAA championship, 41-14, to Rochester Lourdes
Key returners: Chase Reber (QB/LB), Logan Hofstedt (RB/LB), Hayden Strain (RB/LB) Mason Stevens (DL), Gage Hildebrandt (DB)
Key graduates: Mason Hofstedt (RB/LB, All-Area Player of the Year)
From head coach Dan Meyers: "We are athletic and experienced at linebacker and running back. We return a talented backfield led by Logan Hofstedt, Hayden Strain, Gage Hildebrandt and Chase Reber. Our line will be inexperienced but they are developing very quickly and had a great off-season in the weight room. We've got a lot of guys who will be first-year starters but we are expecting them to be able to compete at the varsity level."
Last year: 7-3, lost in Section 1A semifinals, 28-14, to Fillmore Central
Key returners: Mason Huemann (RB/LB), Jack Gadient (QB), Ryan Schoenfelder(WR), Mariano Bigalk (WR), Casey Ryan (RB), Kelby O'Reilly (LB)
Key graduates: Jacob McNamara (OL/DL), Bailee O'Reilly (FB/MLB), Nicholas Thomforde (FS), Cameron Dowden (OL), Ben Opsahl (DB), Taylor Buck (DB), Lucas Thomforde (ATH)
From head coach Tony Poncelet: "We return our top two leading rushers, leading passer, and top two receivers. (But) we graduated an athletic group who were two-way starters."
Last year: 9-2, lost Section 2AA championship, 14-0, to Maple River
Key returners: Jack Buelke (QB), Logan Quam (OL/DL), Kaya Lindell (OL/DL), Chance Washburn (OL/DL), Cole Johnson (S), Tyler Ryan (LB)
Key graduates: Calvin Steberg, Gavin Roosen, Matthew Houglum, Logan DeWitz
From head coach Jake Wieme: "We are a very young squad this year. (We do) have four offensive and defensive returning starters. We have been a fast team the past couple of years and played good defense, and we hope that continues."
Lake City Tigers
Last year: 2-8, lost in Section 1AAA semifinals, 36-6, to Cannon Falls
Key returners: Parker Schurhammer (RB/LB), Josh Matanich (OG/DE), Ben Schulz (RB/LB), Aidan Creeley (RB/FS), Levi Herbst (RB/LB)
Key graduates: Mitch Marien, Will Lira, Jared Wolff
From head coach Trevor Narum: "(We) should be a more athletic and faster team this year. (Our) backfield of Schurhammer, Creeley, Herbst and Schulz should be solid. (Our weakness is) size on the offensive and defensive lines, and inexperience at key positions including quarterback."
Pine Island Panthers
Last year: 4-6, lost in Section 1AAA semifinals, 35-14, to Rochester Lourdes
Key returners: Austin Keller (OL/DL), Tanner Bates (OL/DL), Keegan Majerus (QB)
Key graduates: Brady Braaten (RB/LB)
From head coach John Stapleton: "Offensive line and quarterback are strengths, but we are inexperienced at the skill positions...(To be successful), we need to dominate the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, win the turnover battle and reduce penalties."
Last year: 3-6, lost in Section 1 9-Man quarterfinals, 53-6, to Mable-Canton
Key returners: Andrew Wenstrom (QB/DB), Justin Wille (RB/LB), Carsyn Gunderson (WR), Bailey Braatz (OL/DL), Dylon Otte (OL/DL)
Key graduates: Grant Otte (WR), Chuck Wille (RB/LB), Levi Stein (DL), Alex Ratzlaff (OL/DL), Calvin Stoesz (WR/DB)
From head coach Michael Schmidt: "We will approach each practice or game with a positive attitude. We will play with a high energy level, while giving maximum effort. We will also be a more disciplined team this season. The players will hold themselves and their teammates to a high level of accountability."
Last year: 8-3 overall, lost Section 1AA championship game, 27-7, to Caledonia
Key returners: Jacob Niebuhr (WR/FS), Caden Steffen (QB/DL), Jacob Bennett (RB/LB), Robvon Jackson (WR/SS)
Key graduates: Landon Rauen (TE/LB), Isaiah Stueber (QB)
From head coach Darin Raasch: "We will need to establish a good running game. We return a third-year starting running back in Jacob Bennett, who is even bigger, stronger (and) faster than last year. Defensively we will need to be strong up the middle."