The2012 high school football season got underway Tuesday with the first day of practice. Opening night is two weeks from this Friday, a major change this year implemented by the WIAA is the eight-game regular season schedule, something that does not sit well with area coaches. SportScene 13's Bob Gallaher stopped by Eau Claire North, Eau Claire Memorial, Eau Claire Regis and Menomonie.
After advancing deep into last year's post-season, the Eau Claire Regis football team has a new slogan in 2012, one team, one fight. Ramblers head coach Bryant Brenner says his team must replace a tremendous senior class.
Brenner says, "Leadership is going to be a real question, team speed will be our biggest question, guys that we lost last year could really run, not very fast so our games will be a little bit different, must play great defense and not turn the ball over to be competitive in our conference because our conference is so tough."
At Eau Claire North, coach Ben King and the Huskies were on the practice field preparing for what will be another rigorous Big Rivers season. King says the first two weeks of camp are vital to building a solid foundation.
King says, "We spend the bulk of our first week teaching the system, until the players master what we want them to do. We really don't move on because we want the skills taught and want the kids to re-teach us to explain what our goal is, what our objective is with each drill. We want the boys to play fast."
Across town, the Memorial Old Abes are coming off a conference championship season and a berth in the post-season. The bar has been raised for coach Paul Kling's squad and he welcomes the higher expectations.
Kling says, "You have to be careful of letdowns after a championship season. One thing I can say about our staff, they're hungry for more and the kids are hungry for more so you look at it, you want to build off of it. Our season was not a perfect season, but a great one, but we know we can be better and that's what our focus will be."
In Menomonie, coach Joe La Buda and the Mustangs face some major challenges after nine players including eight starters were suspended for the first three games for using a banned performance-enhancing substance. La Buda says it's a tough lesson to learn, but proud of how his kids have handled the adversity.
La Buda says, "Life is about challenges and we put that on our shirts this year, it's a season of challenges and you know, that's one of the things our kids are ready to step up and answer. I'm really pleased with the kids attitudes out there today. We go on to play in Merrill right away, that's a team that's got 18 returning starters. They were a real young team last year so we got some real challenges ahead of us early in the season, we play three of our first four games on the road so we got some real challenges this year."