1. D.C. Everest:
Look for the Evergreens to get back to ?Evergreen Football? with their signature smashmouth Veer offense and win the WVC. Last years lack of experience in the offensive line coupled with the throwing ability of 3rd year starter Mike Sierakowski led the Evergreens to open up their offense. They played a lot of Sophs, which is uncharacteristic to the program. It may have hurt them last season, but it means a ton of returning experience. Star of the offense should be 1st Team All-WVC WR Seth Krueger. The offensive line is made up of 5 seniors. The Defense will be led by Senior LB Mitch Goertz and Junior DT Dustin Fisher, both on the varsity since their Freshman years. This team is deep. Two top player who saw extensive action or starts last year as Sophs, Garret Janda and Jordan Hoekstra, aren?t even listed as starters! Of note, the Evergreens list a 6?3?? 207lb LB named Konrad Zagzebski. He?s a freshman!! Look for him to be a monster in the future.
Projected Record: (8-1)

2. Wisconsin Rapids:
Lincoln wasn?t a case of a sleeping giant. They were just napping a while. They?ve become a program like D.C.E. and Marshfield, where they just reload. The offense will again be dominant with Brent Goska(1st All-WVC) running the option behind returning Center(moved from OT) Tyler Mancl, and Guards Adam Fryman(HM) and Luke Gellerman(1st All-WVC). Halfback Nate Schill has moved to Fullback, where his carries will double; and behind that interior O-Line he?ll be one of the conferences top rushers. If the Raiders choose to use Goska?s arm more this season, they have one of the conferences best athletes in SE Vinny Ritchie. Going into last season, the defense only returned 2 starters and made it to the State Finals. They return more this year. All 4 LBs are back, including Andy Rosenkranz(1st All-WVC) and Juan Medina(HM), as well as 6?3 275 DT Brad Davis. The D-Line and Secondary will consist mostly of new starters, just like last year, and they were the WVC's #1 ranked defense.
Projected Record: (8-1)

The Panthers have the best 1-2 punch offensively in the WVC in TB Mitch Sutton and QB Cullen Sexton. Jumbo 1st Team All-WVC FB Dan Kinsella will be missed. His softening of the middle of Valley defenses allowed Sutton to score 24 Tds in conference play. They will have to rebuild the O-Line, with the exception of 2nd Team All-WVC OL Brian Hintz, but that?s nothing hard to do for the largest school in the state. Sexton has some big targets, on the roster anyway, in 6?10?? TE Nick Schiefelbein and hoops standout, 6?6?? WR Jake Gollon. The secondary will be strong with Sexton(2nd Team All-WVC) at Safety and Logan Koerten(HM All-WVC) at CB. HM All-WVC DL Nick Poinek also returns.
Projected Record: (7-2)

4. Marshfield:
This is my wildcard team. I can see them anywhere from 2 to 4, where I?m putting them. I think the program has lost a bit of its momentum, and the re-emergence of Rapids has knocked them down the list. However, this is still one of the best programs in the state. The Tigers have leadership on both sides of the ball in 2nd team All-WVC TE Ben Sturomski and LB Trevor Cordes. Cordes played D-Tackle his Sophomore year and was named 2nd team All-WVC at that position last season.
Projected Record: (6-3)

5. Antigo:
Loosing Grundy would be a lot bigger loss if there wasn?t so much returning talent. New Coach John Lund is walking into a similar situation to what Grundy did, with talent and experience everywhere. Luke Nowinsky, Brian Bauknecht, Casey Kamps and Travis Hohensee bring back almost all of last years rushing yards. Players with Conference recognition include: Alex Kautza(2nd Team LB), Bauknecht(HM RB), Justin Sorano(HM DL), Mitch Matteck(HM LB), and Josh Warren(HM DB). Only Wisconsin Rapids returns a more impressive group of post-season honorees.
Projected Record: (6-3)

6. Merrill:
For me, it is basically a ?coin flip? between the Bluejays and Rhinelander for this 6th spot. The Jays prevailed in OT to end last season, but my reasoning comes in potential improvement. Last season was Coach Tom Tourtillott?s first, and his stars were Sophomores. The Hodags were in their second year under Coach Jim Moore with Junior stars. I just see a greater jump from year 1 to 2 of a program and Sophomore to Junior for a player than year 2 to 3 and Junior to Senior. Juniors Alex Gruenenwald and Brad Vandergeest are a younger version of SPASH?s Sexton and Sutton(experience wise). Gruenenwald has a great target in TE Ryan Leavitt, who rolled up 33 catches and 6 TDs. With Dwight Jensen leaving West, and taking his pass-happy offense with him, the Bluejays are now the team most likely to ?air it out?. The biggest question mark is the Offensive line.
Projected Record: (4-5)

7. Rhinelander:
It?s the 3rd year of Coach Jim Moore?s tenure and he has the best Senior class of talent in Rhinelander in a while. In most years that means that the Hodags can count on wins versus the schools of similar size, Antigo and Merrill. Unfortunately for them, those schools have similar or better or deeper talent. Jacob Schmidt(2nd team All-WVC RB/CB) has a banged up knee and doubtful for the opener at Rapids. When he gets healthy, he?ll be one of the conferences top backs, on both sides of the ball. Wingback/DB Chet White might be even more dangerous. They have a ton of returning experience on both sides of the ball. I could easily see them jumping past Merrill into the 6th spot and a 4-5 season. Do they get in the playoffs for the first time in 17 years? With all the Senior talent that will be leaving, this has to be the year.
Projected Record: (3-6)

8. Wausau East:
I see this as being a down year for the Lumberjacks. Synold has built a solid program, but losing talent like 1st team All-WVC players like Ben Fischer, Ryan Jirgl, Mike Robinson, Justin Crooks; and 2nd teamers Ted Martin, Justin Bric, and Ryan Ullenbrauk will take its toll. A bright spot would have been 3rd year starter Tom Gehring at QB, but he chose to play hockey in Green Bay instead of leading the Lumberjack offense. Big FB Tony Ort will grind out some tuff yards. Something to watch is how well ?little brother? plays. Will Juniors Ross Jirgl and Jordan Fischer be able to step in where their star brothers left off?
Projected Record: (2-7)

9. Wausau West:
This season will be a step back to take 2 steps forward for new coach Kevin Grundy. Yes, he took Antigo to the playoffs in his 1st year, but he stepped into a group with a ton of talent. He doesn?t have that at West. One bright spot will be Senior WR/DB Chad Thompson. He was 2nd Team All-WVC at WR and HM at DB. Look for him to used in the Wing-T in a similar way to how East used Ben Fischer. They will need to find ways to get the ball in his hands. Watch out for this team in 2 years. If you look at their roster, you?ll notice a lot of underclassmen who share last names with several coaches. This means a lot of talented kids with high football IQs are on there way.
Projected Record: (1-8 )
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