COLFAX — While there are quality pieces with significant experience on the roster, the Colfax football team will be relying heavily on young players to step up and fill important roles this season.
The team brings back six letterwinners from last season which includes some seniors who have contributed in past seasons, but depth could be an issue and the Vikings will need to ask underclassmen to be ready for varsity action.
“We’re going to have to have a lot of young kids step up and play a lot of ball this year,” Colfax coach Matt DeMoe said. “They might not be ready to play but that’s what we need out of them.”
Colfax finished in sixth in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference at 1-5 a season ago while finishing 3-5 overall. The Vikings lost seven letterwinners including first team all-conference tight end Jackson Hellman and second team wide receiver George Scharlau.
“Last year we had some real big, tall receivers that we could (pass the ball around), but now we’re going to kind of pack it in a little bit tighter,” DeMoe said of how departures could affect the offensive gameplan. “A little more deception with our run game and still spread it out and pass but we just don’t have the big kids outside to do that like we did last year.”
What Colfax does have returning is starting quarterback Noah Albricht, who enters his third season leading the offense. The senior threw for 1,529 yards and 12 touchdowns last season according to wissports.net. With an inexperienced offense DeMoe is counting on Albricht to be a difference maker for the Vikings.
“He needs to do big things running and passing the ball for us this year,” DeMoe said of Albricht.
Senior Mitch Harmon makes a return at running back after carrying the ball 116 times for 442 yards a season ago. The honorable mention all-conference linebacker will also play a pivotal role on the defensive side of the ball. He led the Vikings with 65 tackles and two forced fumbles.
DeMoe feels better about the depth of his defense in comparison to the team’s offensive depth. Joining Harmon as a key piece on defense is senior Trey Hovde. Hovde was an honorable mention defensive back but this season he will transition to linebacker. He led the team with three interceptions and DeMoe said he is one of the team’s best tacklers so the move to linebacker is to get him closer to where the action occurs.
Hovde was also one of the top playmakers on offense last year hauling in 25 receptions for 269 yards and three scores. He will be asked to contribute even more following departures in the receiver group.
“Our most explosive player. We need to get him the ball as much as possible,” DeMoe said of Hovde.
Senior Marcus Drees was a second team all-conference selection at offensive lineman and he will anchor a young line.
Colfax will have a chance for its young group to grow quickly. With three nonconference road games to begin the season the Vikings will get a nice tuneup prior to conference play beginning. The Vikings have a scrimmage at Flambeau on Friday before opening the regular season at Whitehall on Aug. 23. The nonconference slate then includes trips to Eleva-Strum (Aug. 23) and Neillsville/Granton (Sept. 6).
“I like that we start our three nonconference games right away and I think all three of them could be winnable games,” DeMoe said.
Conference play begins Sept. 13 when Colfax hosts Mondovi. Other home contests include Durand (Oct. 4) and Glenwood City (Oct. 11). The heavy slate of road games on the schedule this season includes Boyceville (Sept. 20), Elk Mound (Sept 27) and Spring Valley (Oct. 18).
While DeMoe feels Elk Mound, Mondovi and Spring Valley — which ended last year tied atop the standings — are the favorites to battle it out for the conference title again he believes his team could take a step forward. With limited depth, staying healthy and adding another win or two greater than its record a season would be a successful season.
“Some of these young kids are going to play a lot and that can be a good thing or a bad thing,” DeMoe said, “and we want that to be a good thing, for them to be eager to want to get better for next year.”