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Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016

Young 'Dogs look to return to postseason

Thursday, August 20, 2009

(Sentinel photo by Roy Tucker) Senior Anthony Schimek returns a punt during a game last season. He returns as a cornerback as the Bulldogs look to improve on last season's 3-6 mark.
The 2008 version of the Le Mars Community football team entered the season with a senior-dominated defense, a Class 3A No. 6 ranking and some lofty expectations.

But amidst injuries and an often-stagnant offense, the Bulldogs finished the season 3-6 and missed the postseason for the first time since 2004.

But that doesn't mean the expectations are any lower this season as the 'Dogs look to regain the caliber of play that saw them reach the state semifinals four times since 2002.

(Sentinel photo by Roy Tucker) Le Mars senior Josh Meredith returns as a safety for the 'Dogs. Meredith had a team-high two interceptions in 2008.
"Our hopes were high and I think they'll stay high," said senior Jared Riedemann, who returns at defensive tackle after earning all-district honorable mention a season ago. "We'll just go out and do our best. Hopefully (we will) have a little better experience than we did last year, but we will have our hopes up high. It's a new season - we'll see what happens."

But fellow senior Josh Meredith said the coaching staff has taken preparedness to a new level this season - as evidenced by the workout that the National Guard put them through during training camp.

"I feel that last year we came in with those expectations and it gave us a false sense of (security) around us," Meredith said. "This year the coaches are pushing us a little harder. They brought in the (National) Guard and they worked us out pretty hard. I think they're pushing us a little more and trying to pull the most out of us."

(Sentinel photo by Roy Tucker) Senior Tyler Westhoff returns as a split end for Le Mars. Westhoff caught four passes for 81 yards in 2008.
Bulldogs head coach Jim Boyd, who has coached at Le Mars in some capacity since 1988 and has been head coach since 1993, said the team will approach this season the same way as any other.

"We don't change that much," Boyd said. "(The coaches) have a system that we go through and a process for determining our athletes. That doesn't change too much and the coaching staff is the same. I think you will see consistency year in and year out over a long period."

The 'Dogs will have to make due with a young lineup this season as they have just 16 seniors on the roster. They will also have to replace all-district running back Levi Price, all-district defensive linemen Ben Beitelspacher and Zerick Kuecker and all-district linebacker Pat Rosacker - each of whom was lost to graduation.

"We've got a lot of talent, (but) a lot of it is young," Meredith said. "We could go far if we mesh together well. But if not, it could be another season like last year. We just have to come together as a team and work hard every day and we'll do fine."

Boyd said that with the exception of the returning starters, the coaching staff will wait to allocate any other starting spots until after Friday's scrimmage. But Boyd does like what he sees so far.

"We're starting to have some depth," Boyd said. "We're probably two deep at every spot on offense and defense. What we have to determine now is who is going to step up and be the number one starter."

Returning on the offensive side of the ball is senior split end Tyler Westhoff, who caught four passes last season for 81 yards. Also returning is senior left guard Gage Crosgrove, senior center Kaleb Wurth and senior right guard Scott Baue.

Juniors Kyan Ludwig and Zach Reuter will duel it out for the starting quarterback slot as last season's backup, Scott Borchers, is penciled in at tight end.

"His frame is more conducive to being a tight end than a quarterback," Boyd said of the decision to switch Borchers back to tight end.

Riedemann, fellow senior Justin Carpenter and junior Alex Klein are in the mix to start at fullback.

"Each one gives me a different dimension," said Boyd, who added that he has six players in the running for halfback.

Defensively, the 'Dogs look strong in the secondary as they return senior Anthony Schimek and junior Jeremy Bohlke at cornerback and seniors Meredith and Brayton Ringsdorf at safety.

"I think our secondary will be a lot better," Boyd said. "We were hit by injuries a lot last year and lost a lot to graduation...Some of our young kids were forced to play and we're pretty deep there."

Riedemann also returns at defensive tackle, but beyond that, Boyd emphasized that Friday's scrimmage will go a long way in determining who else will fill in where.

"If things work out like I think they will, you will see a productive running team and a very stingy defense," Boyd said. "I think our special teams play (will also be solid)."

Le Mars has a pair of strong kickers in senior Jose Camarena and junior Cody Ortmann and a pair of solid punters in Carpenter and junior Bryce Dahm.

"We have two punters who are excellent and two kickers who are very good," Boyd said. "I think our special teams play will be much improved."

And as for a district favorite, well, Boyd said you can't bet against the defending state champs.

"You gotta go with Heelan until they prove they can't do it," he said. "Then I think everybody else is in the mix."

The Bulldogs open the 2009 season by hosting Lewis Central on August 28.

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Go DOGS!!!

-- Posted by speakinup on Fri, Aug 21, 2009, at 2:35 PM

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