amped0808
Normally I don't do conference previews but since DB has started his I am going to give this a whirl.

First up is the Great Northern.

2018 GNC vs Non-Conf Play (In last 4 years): 10-11 (.476) (29-52 (.358))
2018 GNC Playoff Record (Last 4 Years): 0-4 (.000) (6-15 (.286))

Ashland

2018 Record: 8-2 (6-0)
Points Scored-Allowed Avg (Conf): 27.6-18.0 (26.0-13.5)
Notable Losses:Brennan Corbine (OL/LB), Jordan Brennan (QB/DB), Hunter Powless (OL/DL), Zach Livingston (WR/DB)
Notable Returns: Issac Livingston (RB/LB), Braden Stegmann (OL/DL)

Notes: After several years of struggling to get traction since joining the Great Northern in 2011, the Oredockers broke through in a major way going undefeated in league play for their first conference championship in football since 2008 (as members of the Sea Range). Unfortunately any thoughts of a deep playoff run ended abruptly as seventh seeded Sparta blew them out in Level 1. Looking to this year major graduation losses hit Ashland hard as most of their offensive production has moved on. There are some pieces back on both sides of the ball to ease the blow but it will be an uphill struggle for the Oredockers to maintain the momentum generated by a great regular season.

Antigo

2018 Record: 4-6 (3-3)
Points Scored-Allowed Avg (Conf): 19.4-23.8 (20.8-18.3)
Notable Losses: Eric Langseth (TE/DB), Dominic Smith (RB/DB), Jon Hoeft (OL/DL)
Notable Returns: Jordan Arrowood (OL/DL), Nevin Cornelius (QB/LB/P)

Notes: After a stellar 2017 campaign, the Red Robins fell back to the middle of the GNC last year. Antigo brings back QB Nevin Cornelius to lead the offensive attack but will need to find a replacement for All-GNC HM Dominic Smith who led the team in rushing last season. The schedule is rough the first few weeks as they take on Amherst on the road and Stratford the following week at home before diving into conference play. A solid showing against those two teams could figure into a top half finish in the league for them.

Lakeland

2018 Record: 4-5 (2-4)
Points Scored-Allowed Avg (Conf): 23.2-26.0 (22.0-27.5)
Notable Losses: Jake Rexroade (WR/DB), Ray Rentmeester (WR/DB), Austin Wanty (K/P)
Notable Returns: Michael Ouimette (QB/DB), Nick Kiezorek (LB/DB), Zach Rice (LB/RB)

Notes: If there is a team that could come out of nowhere like how Ashland did last year it could be Lakeland. The Thunderbirds have been close to breaking into the top half of the league only to have one or two games derail their hopes for a long-awaited playoff spot. They bring back most of their offense as Ouimette returns to run the spread attack. The key for the Thunderbirds if they want to get over the hump is three-fold: First they need to replace two of their top receivers as those two have graduated. Second they need to clamp down on D as they allowed 27.5 PPG in conference which was second-worst in the league and finally if the could get a bit more out of the running game to keep the opponents honest on D, then they could have something special. 

Merrill

2018 Record: 2-7 (1-5)
Points Scored-Allowed Avg (Conf): 13.7-24.6 (13.5-25.5)
Notable Losses: Rob Ostreich (OL/DL), Dominic Leistkow (RB/DB), Kole Meyer (TE/DL), Quinn Steckbauer (QB)
Notable Returns: Dawson Dengel (OL/DL)

Notes: Normally a regular factor in the conference race, Merrill dipped to a 2-7 record and not making the postseason for the first time since 2007. It will be a tough to make any upward momentum back towards their usual perch at the top as a good chunk of offensive production from a team that only put up just under two touchdowns per game has moved on. Something tells me they will rebound back to the standards that the program is capable of but I will have to see it first.

Medford

2018 Record: 5-5 (4-2)
Points Scored-Allowed Avg (Conf): 24.8-27.2 (28-22.5)
Notable Losses: Garret Hill (RB/DB), Trevor Brehm (OL/DL), Nick Retterath (OL/DL), Jake Miller (QB/DB)
Notable Returns: Doug Way (TE/DE), Ean Wilson (RB/LB), Ethan Hahn TE/DE)

Notes: Medford bounced back in from a non-playoff year in 2017 to a third place finish in the GNC in 2018. Another top three finish should be in the cards again as they bring back their top rusher Ean Wilson along with a pair of tight ends in Doug Way and Ethan Hahn. If they can get their QB position nailed down then they could challenge for the title this year.

Mosinee

2018 Record: 7-3 (5-1)
Points Scored-Allowed Avg (Conf): 31.4-19.2 (32.3-18.6)
Notable Losses: Carter Samples (RB/LB), Loukas Trzcinski (WR/DB), Wyatt Beyerl (OL/DL)
Notable Returns: Trey Fitzgerald (QB/DB), Michal Dul (WR/K/P), Will Kennedy (RB/DB)

Notes: Of all the teams in the GNC this year, Mosinee returns the most back as most of their offense which lead the league with 31 PPG. Trey Fitzgerald returns to run the offense at QB which also has Will Kennedy returning at RB and Michal Dul at WR. Dul will once again be in charge of punting and kicking duties for the Indians who finished second behind Ashland in the GNC last season.

Rhinelander

2018 Record: 1-8 (0-6)
Points Scored-Allowed Avg (Conf): 13.2-23.44 (12-29.6)
Notable Losses: Josh Francisco (RB/DB), Brock Leider (QB/DB)
Notable Returns: Drake Martin (RB/LB), Trevor Knapp (OL/DL), Peyton Erickson (DB)

Notes: Last year was another rough season for the Hodags as they went winless in GNC play again. There is some hope as much of the key players last year return. The key is can they figure out the QB situation before the season starts and if they can stop opponents on D while finding a way to generate more scoring on offense in league play, they could surprise a few teams along the way.

Prediction time: As a rule of thumb, it's a bit difficult to gauge the GNC right off the bat. With Ashland turning a few heads last season en route to a league title could we see the same effect this year or will familiar powers like Mosinee reclaim the top spot? Here's how I see the league playing out this year:

1. Mosinee
2. Antigo
3. Medford
4. Lakeland
5. Merrill
6. Ashland
7. Rhinelander
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db11
If this conference could find any speed, they'd probably be more of a factor come playoff time...or at least that's what Medford coach Ted Wilson told me back in April.

From what I understand, Ashland may be greatly affected by the loss of Jordan Brennan, who was described as one of those athletes that always found a way to make five yards out of what should have been a loss. I tend to agree with your assessment dropping them way back down. I feel bad for Martin at Rhinelander who plays almost every snap and is a really nice player, but there just isn't much around him.

I could see anyone of the three you have listed up top winning the league, though I'd be inclined to lean towards Medford. This conference is such a contrast in have programs and have-not programs that it makes easy to separate wheat from chaff....which is one reason I could see Merrill bouncing back.

Curious to see Lakeland for a bit in Week 1 when they come down to Cudahy for an early start. I may also catch them in Week 2 along with Rhinelander/Tomahawk on Thursday.
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db11
Caught some of Rhinelander's intrasquad on Saturday. They've got about 37 kids 10-12, but are lacking size outside of their massive right tackle. Martin looks leaner and quicker this year and they also have a sophomore track guy who looked decent as a change of pace. QB spot still unsettled as the presumed incumbent broke the same thumb twice during baseball (once for the school and once in legion) and is still working his way back.
https://twitter.com/barwickipedia - Follow me. Because we all need a bit of sports snark in our lives.

"Doin' right ain't got no end."
-The Outlaw Josey Wales

"'Allegedly' is right, Mr. Polian. I have a hole in my ear drum, I'd never go for a swim, no matter how drunk me is."
-Pat McAfee
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