Next Generation Takes Over For Onalaska


The Loggers over at Onalaska refuse to use that word that starts with a Y and rhymes with “rung.”

But if others use it for them, well, that just helps grow the ever-present chip on their collective shoulder.

“Everybody in the league is going to count us out, and we’re kind of excited about that,” head coach Mazen Saade said. “They’re going to say things like we lost so many guys, and we’re young; you know the cliches. That makes me super excited, that makes our program excited.”

It’s certainly good that the Loggers are excited for the present challenge. After navigating one of the toughest schedules in the state — at any classification — last season and reaching the semifinals, they’ll have to retool just about their entire backfield, while also replacing key pieces on the line.

The one source of stability comes in the form of quarterback Kayden Mozingo, who took over the starting job last season as just a sophomore, and ran the Onalaska offense the rest of the way.

Back as a junior, he’ll be tasked with leading the triple-option attack — suddenly as one of the group’s most experienced members.

“To have him back is super awesome for our program. He’s made great growth over the offseason in terms of getting stronger and lifting,” Saade said. “And then just understanding our offense, film work, and understanding what’s going on and what’s taking place. Just a hard-nosed kid.”

Behind Mozingo, it’ll be a whole bunch of sophomores making their way together and learning real quick on the job, with Case McGraw currently tabbed as the starting fullback, and Rodrigo Rodriguez, Blaze Underhill, and Cooper Lawrence all working in at halfback. Saade said he feels good working all four of them in at any backfield position, picking up for the likes of Marshall Haight, Gunnar Talley, and Kolby Mozingo.

“Our kids believe in what we do,” he said. “They get excited about the offense, and it’s fun. It’s fun when it’s clicking and it’s humming, and we’re trying to get to that point. But that’s all going to (build) off of what our offensive line can do.”

Speaking of the line, the Loggers are replacing plenty there as well, though there they’ll be doing so more with juniors than sophomores.

“Ryland McGraw is anchoring our offensive line,” Saade said. “He had a great camp and a great summer and a great offseason in the weight room. He’s a strong kid and he’s coming along; we just have to get a couple guys to come with him and see where we shake.”

Onalaska will get a progress check on Saturday, going to Orting for a jamboree with the 2A Cardinals, 1A Eatonville, and Rainier, then one more week to prepare for yet another gauntlet of a 2B season.

It’s a short time to grow up and come together fast, with a bunch of new faces.

“It’s always interesting when you get a new season and a new crop of kids, you’ve got to figure out who the leaders are going to be, who’s going to rise and lead these guys,” Saade said. “And they’re working that out. It’s got to come from within them.”