The Reedsburg football team has been in an unfamiliar spot at the end of the last two seasons: on the outside of the playoff picture.
Now having missed the postseason in consecutive years following a stretch of five-straight playoff trips, a senior-laden Reedsburg team is eager to snap its current slump.
“Experience is invaluable; that’s one of the things I’ve always said. You can’t replace kids who have had playing time in previous years, it’s just amazing how far ahead they are,” Reedsburg coach Brian Pottinger said. “You’re going to lose players every year, every team does, but we just happen to have a lot of kids that did have significant time.”
Along with experience, the Beavers also have plenty of motivation as well. Reedsburg finished last season 5-4 overall, however it missed out on the playoffs following a 14-12 loss to rival Baraboo in a win-and-you’re-in game in the regular season finale to finish Badger North Conference play at 3-4.
While he knows that this year’s group is different and the Beavers aren’t looking back on last year’s disappointing finish, Pottinger admitted there are positives to draw from.
“There’s certainly a lot of lessons to learn from, but this group is pretty motivated to get back to the playoffs. That’s been the talk around and that’s what this year’s team is shooting for,” he said.
Off and running again
In order to get back to the postseason, Pottinger and the Beavers will once again implement their patented option-oriented offense. Reedsburg will have a familiar face spearheading the ground heavy attack in senior Casey Campbell.
The 5-foot-10, 160 pound running back was the Beavers’ third-leading rusher as a junior, racking up 362 yards and three touchdowns on 72 carries. Campbell, who led Reedsburg in receiving with nine receptions for 199 yards and two scores, will take on an even larger role this season after being an honorable mention All-Badger North pick last season.
“Casey is going to be a really good running back for us,” Pottinger said. “Being a senior, and a captain last year, we expect a lot of big things out of him.”
Behind Campbell, the Beavers have a number of options to provide depth at running back, including juniors Zach Bestor (5-10, 150) and Nick Coplien (5-11, 160), while senior Joe Statz (6-0, 205) is Reedsburg’s top fullback.
To execute the Beavers’ option attack, Pottinger will turn to senior quarterback Ethan Lee. Lee (5-11, 155) was to be the starter last season but due to injury was hindered throughout the campaign and limited to just four games. After being limited last season, Pottinger said he’s “anxious to see what Lee can do.”
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“He was really disappointed obviously, but he’s worked extremely hard this whole offseason and he’s looking for big things. We’re also expecting a lot of stuff out of him too in terms of him being the quarterback in this offense,” Pottinger said.
Helping to create the holes for the Beavers’ bevy of backs is a stout offensive front, with Ryan Phelps anchoring the group. The 6-2, 240-pound senior enters his second year as a starter. Along with Phelps, Reedsburg will also rely on junior David Finkel (6-2, 300), who earned honorable mention All-Badger North honors last year.
Establishing defensive depth
Like the offensive side of the ball, the Beavers feature plenty of experience on defensive. The major challenge facing Pottinger will be putting together the right pieces to create depth as Reedsburg tries to avoid playing too many players both ways.
One player the Beavers will rely on both sides of the ball, especially defensively, is senior defensive lineman Jonathan Schmitt. A second team All-Badger North pick last season, Schmitt (6-1, 240) is one of the team’s steady and solid players after tallying 58 tackles last year.
“He’s kind of the guy we build that defensive front around, and we’ve got some other good players too, but he’s the guy you start with up front,” Pottinger said.
Along with Schmitt up front, the Beavers will rely on honorable mention all-league pick, senior Carter Daniels (6-1, 195), and Statz.
Behind the duo of Schmitt and Daniels, the Beavers will rely on the linebacking pair of senior Robert Losic and junior Kaden Reuterskiold. Losic (5-8, 150) led the Reedsburg defense in tackles last season with 70 tackles, while Reuterskiold (5-8, 175) tied for third-most with 59.
“Both of them have a full year under their belts and we’re going to expect big things out of them,” Pottinger said.
In the defensive backfield, the Beavers also have a number of options, led by senior honorable mention pick Carson Beyer (6-1, 170), as well as senior Danny Kast (5-11, 155).
While they have experience and some team speed, Pottinger knows that his team needs to be more disciplined, as he believes the last couple years the Beavers have “been stung by turnovers and penalties.”
“We’ve kind of lost that a bit and that’s what we’ve been known for in the past so we’re trying to get that back,” he said. “We feel like if we take care of those two things, we’ve got a decent shot to reach our goals this year.”