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Mauston football hopes to keep flying high atop SCC after significant graduation losses
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Mauston football hopes to keep flying high atop SCC after significant graduation losses

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Mauston has been one of the top teams of the South Central Conference for the last six years.

The Golden Eagles haven’t finished worse than third and captured two of the last three league titles, including last fall when they went a perfect 4-0 in conference play.

That sustained success could be in jeopardy this fall.

While Mauston graduated just 10 seniors, among them were seven All-SCC selections, including Wisconsin Football Coaches Association All-State running back Kraig Armstrong as well as all-region selections Jack Luehman and Sterling Wilke. It’s left quite the void for coach Roland Lehman, entering his 10th year in charge, to fill.

Couple that with a smaller team than usual and William Shakespeare’s line, “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown,” rings true heading into the 2021 season.

Still, it isn’t dampening the veteran coach’s hopes for a second consecutive title

“Young guys will need to step up, and players will need to be willing to play out of position,” Lehman said. “(But) I believe we can be very competitive and have a chance to be in the hunt for the South Central Conference title if we come together and play as a team.”

A strong offense helped lead the way to success last season when the Golden Eagles averaged 32.4 points per game. Those figures will be difficult to replicate following the loss of the team’s leading rusher (Armstrong) and Mauston’s top three receivers — Luehman and fellow All-SCC picks Camron Cafferty and Dawson Dearth.

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Nick Erler
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Hayden Gyllin
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Dalton Hoehn
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Noah Kratochvil
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Mauston coach Roland Lehman

While the skill positions are certainly depleted, the tank isn’t empty as starting quarterback Spenser Lehman is back for his second season under center. The 5-foot-10, 140-pound senior was a unanimous first-team all-league selection last fall after throwing for 1,023 yards, 14 touchdowns and just four interceptions on 74-of-106 passing.

He finished his season with a 69.8 completion percentage and averaged 146.1 yards per game, which provides the Golden Eagles’ pro-style, pistol formation offense with a steady hand.

“He was very efficient for us last year, and I hope we can utilize his experience and accuracy,” Roland Lehman said.

Helping churn out yards will be the trio of senior Adon Saylor and juniors Dalton Hoehn and Keith Hayes. Saylor provided a great receiving option last year with 15 catches for 99 yards and a touchdown, and is a great blocking tight end at 5-11, 210.

Hoehn (5-10, 190) and Hayes (6-1, 203) provide a great tandem in the backfield looking to fill Armstrong’s shoes. Along the offensive line, seniors Tyler Hardy and Noah Kratochvil return experience to what will be a largely retooled group, but Roland Lehman is excited about those unknowns.

“It is a tremendous opportunity for new or younger players to earn significant playing time at the varsity level,” he said.

The Golden Eagles defense faces a similar quandary as the unit must replace seven starters. The returning experience is held within the linebacking corps.

Kratochvil was a first-team all-league pick last season at inside linebacker after making 38 tackles (26 solo), second-best on the team, to go along with three tackles for loss and two sacks. Saylor (32 tackles) was a fellow first-team pick at outside linebacker, while Hoehn (31) and Hardy (22 tackles, one sack) also were all over the field.

The quartet should provide a steady hand for the odd-man front look that will heavily rely on underclassmen.

“You will see a bunch of new faces and young guys playing,” Roland Lehman said. “We must have sophomores grow up quickly and be ready for the challenge of varsity play.”

Even with those roadblocks, Lehman believes the team has what it takes to repeat as SCC champs. And with the likes of Poynette and Montello/Princeton/Green Lake entering the fold in favor of league stalwart Nekoosa, the nightly grind won’t change much.

“I believe any team can beat any other team on any given night,” Roland Lehman said. “On paper we may not match up as well as other years, but I really believe that this team has a chance to surprise people and be right in the mix.”

 

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