Panthers Reload Backs
L'Esperance, Radle will carry load on offense
By Tom Pelissero
Leader Telegram Staff

Dan Lerum doesn't expect Patrick L'Esperance and Derek Radle to be John Winter III and Jerec Dorschner.

But the Durand coach hopes they'll play their new backfield roles convincingly enough to keep the Panthers in the Middle Border Conference race behind three-time defending champion Somerset.

"We've always had strong games against Somerset, and every year we have a person injured going into Somerset," Lerum said. "Somerset has just had some great teams... but we've always played them tough."

Radle (5-10 170) gained valuable experience as a varsity blocking back last season, and L'Esperance (5'11" 170) has good size as well.

The Panthers also return most of the line that paved the way for Winter and Dorschner's twin 1000 yard seasons a year ago. Noah Weiss and Tyler Swanson were all-conference on both sides of the ball in 2005.

But the team will be short-handed the first three weeks of the season with eight players sidelined by academic issues.

Lerum expects linebacker corps of Mark Poeschel (strongside), Radle (weakside), and newcomer Gordy Hoyt (middle) to lead the defense while the offense finds its identity. Radle (second team) and Poeschel (honorable mention) were all-conference a year ago.

"The strength of our 'D' is our linebacking corps," Lerum said. "They've got some experience back there.

Junior end Mike Zika and senior wingback David Stellar also could play key roles.

Coach: Dan Lerum, ninth year (45-35)
2005 Record: 7-3, 5-2 MBC
Returning Players: SENIORS: Mark Poeshel 6-1 180 LB/E; David Stellar 5-9 160 RB/CB; Noah Weiss 6-3 260 T/DT; Tyler Swanson 5-10 190 G/DT; Patrick L'Esperance 5-11 170 RB/S; Derek Lieffring 5'6" 140 G/DT; Jordan Rosenberg 6-0 260 G/DT; Greg Lemke 6-3 195 G/OLB; Zach Komro 6-3 255 T/DT; JUNIORS: Derek Radle 5-10 170 RB/LB; Lance Hovland 5-10 195 RB/LB; Mike Zika 6-3 215 OLB/WR; Cody Holden 5-11 215 OLB/RB; Gordy Hoyt 5-6 182 MLB/RB; Matthew Hartmann 5-11 140 RB/CB

Strengths: Good all around size and speed. Solid up front, with Weiss, Swanson contributors on both sides. Radle, Poeschel lead talented LB corps.

Weaknesses: Must find way to replace 1000 yard rushers John Winter III and Jerec Dorschner. Also lost OL Justin Stafford and five other key contributors. Short on depth, especially with eight players sidelined early because of academic issues.
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