By Joe Bachman
“We go into every year expecting to win the conference.”
WISCONSIN RAPIDS — Confident words from Lincoln Head Coach Tony Biolo about his squad this year; a squad that happens to have the No. 1 ranked wide receiver in the state, according to the Wisconsin Sports Network. (WSN)
With nearly three dozen seniors on the roster going into the season, the Red Raiders look to improve on last year’s 6-4 record as they jump to the newly formed Valley West Conference. Previously split into two conferences with 16 teams with eight teams per conference, (Valley-North and Valley-South) the Red Raiders join SPASH, D.C Everest, Marshfield and Wausau West in the now smaller conference of five teams.
With new competition comes a new quarterback, as well. With graduating senior and all-conference quarterback Ben Olson gone, it is likely that senior Jacob Mancl, junior Austin Hensley, and sophomore Austin Pelot will be in competition for a starting role to lead the pack this season.
However, with a fresh face at quarterback comes a few recognizable playmakers on both sides of the ball, including standout senior wide receiver Isiah Westfall. According to Biolo, Westfall will be a pivotal part of the offense, but his presence will open the doors for other offensive playmakers on the team.
“He’s obviously a huge part of the offense, but because he’s in our offense and people double-cover him we have other receivers we can throw to,” said Biolo. “Our O-line is all experienced and all coming back, so the running game is going to play a huge role in what we do.”
Speaking of running backs, Issac Pelot is expected to take over the starting spot, with Nash Coombs taking over the role of graduating senior Austin Glinski as part of the dual threat in the running game.
Senior Nathan Hepp will maintain a pivotal role in the defense this year, and with the loss of graduating senior Ian Miller, Coach Biolo is expecting defensive ends Peter Aspros and Frank Hartman to step up and continue to be defensive playmakers this season.
“Winning the conference is the number one goal — making the playoffs would be a secondary goal,” said Biolo. “With the experience we have we’re pretty confident, but being back in the ‘old valley’ it’s going to be a dogfight every week. There’s not an easy opponent in our league.”
Lincoln’s first practice will be held on Aug. 1, and Coach Biolo welcomes anyone grades 9-12 to tryout. Lincoln’s season opener is on Aug. 19 when they host Kaukauna.
2017-18 Lincoln High School Season Schedule
8/19 – Kaukauna
8/25 – @ Kimberly
9/1 – Oshkosh North
9/8 – @ Neenah
9/15 – @Wausau East
9/22 – @Marshfield
9/29 – @ Wausau West
10/6 – SPASH
10/13 – D.C. Everest