The Loggers don’t have a ton of experience, but there may be plenty of promise on the roster.
Onalaska brings back just a handful of starters from last year’s 6-4 squad, but most of those returning reps are in the backfield.
Lazaro Rodriguez and Ashton Haight are expected to get most of the carries in the Loggers’ triple-option offense. Rodriguez, a 5-foot-5 senior, saw plenty of action last year.
“I’m super excited to watch Lazaro. He’s a tough little back. It’s awesome,” Onalaska coach Mazen Saade said. “He’s just tough. He’s not scared of anybody, or anything.”
Haight, meanwhile, was a part-time starter last year as a freshman, and has looked even better early in summer practices after moving to fullback.
“That kid wearing 3s (33) is going to be something special,” Saade said. “He’s going to put up big numbers. He’s just got something about him.”
He’ll be in the backfield with sophomore Lucas Kreger, the likely starter at quarterback.
“He had a great offseason,” Saade said. “He worked hard in the weight room for us, and I think he’s just embraced the position.
“I’m excited to watch those two play,” Saade added, “that fullback and quarterback combination.”
Outside of those three playmakers in the backfield, though, the Loggers are filling plenty of spots in the starting lineup. Johnny Wells (5-foot-11, 160 pounds) returns on the offensive line and at linebacker, but a handful of new faces — including 6-3, 230-pound sophomore twins Derik and Dylon Gooch, and 6-3, 250-pound freshman Hank Rider — are expected to learn quick in their new starting roles in the trenches.
Sophomore Cade Lawrence returns as a defensive back, and Alex Frazier — after a year of three-sport varsity spots as a freshman — is back and improved at wide receiver.
The key this season, Saade said, is simple: Protect the ball and keep moving.
“Our linemen have got to be able to come off the ball, off the line of scrimmage, and we’ve got to be able to protect it,” the seventh-year head coach said. “We can’t make mental mistakes. That’s got to be the biggest thing for us to work on, is just protecting the ball, and being able to execute what we do in the triple-option.”
Onalaska had 21 players turn out the first week of practice, just down from last year’s total of 23, with only four seniors. All that youth means there aren’t any starting spots preemptively pencilled in.
“The reality is, our best 11 guys are going to be on the field,” Saade said. “So if we’ve got two guys that can play the position, we’re going to get (the other one) on the field at a different position.”
Onalaska opens the season at home on Friday against Toutle Lake.