Three new coaches. Two old favorites.

Northern Capitol Conference coaches seem convinced that the power struggle in their league this fall will yield similar results to last fall, when Lakeside Lutheran finished first and Lodi second.

This year, conference coaches favor Lodi to move into the top spot after Lakeside won league honors in 2012 and 2011. Lodi’s optimism is built on the strength of returning quarterback Chance Browning (a 1,000-yard passer), running back Garrett Bollant (a 1,000-yard rusher) and linebacker Fred Manke (a first-team all-conference pick).

But if anyone is going to stop the Lodi offense, it might be Andrew Graumann and Lakeside. Graumann earned defensive lineman of the year honors in the conference last fall, delivering 53 tackles and 7½ sacks during the regular season. Lakeside also returns an experienced quarterback in Luke Thiele.

Among the league’s other four teams, three have new coaches. Scott Hilber comes to Columbus after a successful 10-year run at Nekoosa and has a roster loaded with returning letterwinners. Dan Ferkovich takes over for Steve Murphy at Lake Mills and has all-conference quarterback Turner Moen as a cornerstone of his new offense. Also, Justin Gregorius has replaced 15-year Watertown Luther Prep coach Ken Taylor. Gregorius is new to the Luther Prep football program, but coached the Phoenix girls basketball team from 1992 to 2003 before departing for Winnebago Lutheran in Fond du Lac.

— Art Kabelowsky

COLUMBUS

Coach: Scott Hilber, first season.

On offense: Hilber thinks it’s time for the Cardinals to choose an offense and stick with it, and that offense is the Wing-T. “The previous staff … didn’t entirely buy into it,” the coach said. Hilber says he plans to use “three backs and implement plenty of play-action passes and a running quarterback” with an ideal run-to-pass ratio of 4:1. Senior quarterback Chance Schick broke the 1,000-yard mark last year. Top running backs Mitch Hasey and Tarek Hershleb will see their roles increase. Top receiver Wyatt Brockel is back, and seven linemen have varsity experience.

On defense: Only a few of the details will change in the scheme of Hilber’s 4-4 defense. “It’s a little different (than what was run last year), but I expect the transition to go smoothly,” he said. The line features athletic players with good size and depth, especially if key players are able to be effective two-way players. The linebacking corps is deep, led by Hasey (first-team all-conference, 75 tackles) and Hershleb, but the backfield is inexperienced.

The bottom line: Hilber seems to have the parts he needs to re-engineer the Columbus offense into a powerhouse, but changing styles and roles sometimes takes time. As a result, the Cardinals’ ability to adapt will go a long way toward determining their level of success.

Returning letterwinners

Seniors Pos. Ht. Wt.

Wyatt Brockel TE-DL 6-4 244

Garret Gosdeck WR-DB 6-2 160

Mitch Hasey HB-LB 5-10 165

Ryan Prosser WR-DB 6-0 170

Miguel Salas RB-LB 5-10 190

Chance Schick QB-LB 6-3 230

Mitch Schleicher OL-DL 6-1 250

Dylan Van Syckel OL-LB 5-10 215

Nathan Virgin OL-DL 6-0 190

Juniors Pos. Ht. Wt.

Alec Archambault OL-DL 6-3 220

Jake Ballweg OL-LB 6-2 205

Chris Bosse OL-DL 6-3 265

Hunter Crouch OL-DL 5-11 220

Jordan Derr OL-DL 6-4 205

Kyle Geiger FB-LB 6-2 195

Tarek Herschleb HB-DB 6-1 170

Colton Leisses OL-DL 6-3 210

Ben O’Connell OL-DL 6-6 265

Blake Streeter RB-LB 5-10 195

Sophomores Pos. Ht. Wt.

Jacob Anderson QB-DB 6-0 180

Kevin Hussey TE-LB 6-2 190

Logan Kehoe OL-LB 5-11 230

Sam Ott RB-DB 5-7 135

Eric Rupp RB-DB 5-6 145

Will Stormer TE-DL 6-1 225

LAKE MILLS

Coach: Dan Ferkovich, first season.

On offense: The L-Cats’ all-conference quarterback, Turner Moen, returns after passing for 1,138 yards and 11 touchdowns with only three interceptions last season. Moen has the height and bulk to take charge and the experience to make good decisions with the ball. Harold Dunkleberger is the top returning running back and Chandler Buth is the top returning receiver. Daniel Olson will anchor the line on both offense and defense.

On defense: Last season, Lake Mills won its first four games before losing four of its last five, including a 24-7 loss to Lakeside Lutheran in the playoffs. In those final five games, the L-Cats gave up an average of 26 points per game — a number that will have to drop. Five of the team’s top seven tacklers from last season return, led by Dylan Smith (50 stops).

The bottom line: Optimism is high in Lake Mills as Ferkovich — an assistant at Germantown last season — likes what he has seen from his team.

Returning letterwinners

Seniors Pos. Ht. Wt.

Chandler Buth TE-DE 6-2 200

Matt Haro QB-DB-WR 6-0 155

Sam Haseleu WR-DB 5-9 125

Matt Hundt DB 5-10 142

Colin Kirschhoffer TE-DE 5-10 158

Ronnie Krauss RB-DB 5-8 142

Zach Leland WR-DB 6-2 164

Turner Moen QB-DB 6-3 190

Chandler O’Connor DB-RB 5-6 140

Danny Olson OT-DT 6-1 273

Jon Olszewski OG-LB 5-10 194

Brandon Rue WR-DB-RB 5-10 155

Dylan Smith OG-LB 5-10 155

Dakota Tholen OT-DT 6-2 320

Aaron Voight WR-DB 5-7 140

Jake Zimmerman C-DL 6-0 174

Juniors Pos. Ht. Wt.

Nick Anderson TE-OG 5-10 170

Bo Behling FB 5-5 150

Harold Dunkleberger LB-RB 5-9 190

Owen Malchow QB-DB 5-8 130

Patrick Putkamer TE-DE 5-11 172

Mitch Schroeder TE-LB 5-11 160

Brett Ward OG-DT 5-8 180

Avery Williams C-DT 5-11 200

Kris Yandre OG-DE 5-11 193

Sophomore Pos. Ht. Wt.

Collin Moen QB-DB 5-11 140

LAKESIDE LUTHERAN

Coach: Paul Bauer, 20th season (84-41).

On offense: Luke Thiele’s shoulder pads have a heavy burden, as the senior quarterback might have to carry the offense. Lakeside’s top four running backs have graduated, including 1,500-yard runner Brennan Leis and 1,200-yard runner Ryan Broadlow. Thiele threw only 75 passes last season and had only 28 rushing attempts. Both numbers are certain to increase. Dylan Schultz (6-6, 280 pounds) will lead the line.

On defense: The anchor will be Andrew Graumann, who earned conference defensive lineman of the year honors with 53 tackles, 7½ sacks and 12 tackles for loss during the regular season. The team allowed only 11.5 points and 209 yards per game last year, but aside from Graumann, only two starters return.

The bottom line: Lakeside has cruised to the past three conference titles, including unbeaten league records each of the past two seasons. But because of graduation hits, Bauer and his assistants may be forced to rebuild rather than simply reload.

Returning letterwinners

Seniors Pos. Ht. Wt.

James Beeson OG-DT 5-7 200

Jacob Behl OG-MLB 6-1 175

Logan Birkholz TE-DE 6-3 200

Ty Mahnke DE-TE 6-1 170

Kameron Schmidt RB-OLB 5-10 155

Michael Schoenfeld DT-OT 6-1 240

Levi Schubkegel OLB-OG 6-1 185

Dylan Schultz OT-DT 6-6 280

Luke Thiele QB-CB 6-2 175

Jeff Weber C-DT 5-8 250

Alex Zastrow OG-DT 6-0 165

Juniors Pos. Ht. Wt.

Isaiah Butler OLB-RB 5-10 170

Brandon Leis OLB-RB 5-10 155

Marcus Turney MLB-OG 6-0 190

LODI

Coach: Dave Puls, 10th season (68-29).

On offense: All-conference first-team RB Garrett Bollant (1,047 yards, 8 touchdowns), all-conference second-team OL Chandler Gilles and all-conference honorable mention QB Chance Browning (1,044 yards, 7 touchdowns) return on offense. However, the Blue Devils must find replacements for three first-team all-conference performers, including Donnie Manke — who was first team all-state as a kicker and an honorable mention all-state punter last season.

On defense: All-conference first-team OLB Fred Manke (69 tackles, 12 for loss, sack, two forced fumbles), all-conference second-team DE Kyle Hilgers (23 tackles, five for loss, 2.5 sacks) and all-conference honorable mention DB Logan Furniss (27 tackles, two interceptions) return. But the team will be without middle linebacker Joe Conklin, the team’s leading tackler (92, 16 for loss) and an all-conference first-team pick, as well as two others who received all-conference honors.

The bottom line: After making the playoffs and placing second in the conference with just one returning starter on each side of the ball last year, Lodi should be able to better those marks with a much more experienced group.

Returning letterwinners

Seniors Pos. Ht. Wt.

Garrett Bollant DB-RB 6-0 155

Adam Breunig OL-DT 6-1 270

Jake Breunig WR-DB 6-1 175

Chance Browning QB-DB 6-2 175

Nathan DeGroff LB-RB 6-0 180

Josh Franz OL-DT 6-5 250

Kyle Hilgers TE-DE 6-3 180

Mike Ibraimi TE-LB 6-0 170

Luke Karls DT-OL 6-1 280

Drew Manchester TE-DE 6-4 180

Fred Manke LB-RB 6-1 190

Logan Mulcahy WR-DB 6-2 165

Nick Newberry FB-LB 5-10 185

Brandon Pedracine WR-DB 5-10 135

Eric Riedesel WR-DB 5-11 155

Radley Ripp FB-LB 5-11 175

Ryan Ripp OL-DE 6-1 190

Tyler Schmidt DT-OL 6-0 200

Juniors Pos. Ht. Wt.

Tyler Akre OL-DT 5-9 170

Dakota Breunig WR-DB 5-7 135

Zack Carlile OL-DT 5-10 215

Noah Clemens OL-DT 5-10 235

Jacob Crow OL-DT 5-9 205

Ben Dulmes OL-DT 6-0 200

Mitchell Falk WR-DB 6-0 140

Logan Furniss QB-DB 6-2 150

Logan Gordon RB-DE 6-2 170

Brock Hargis WR-DB 5-10 140

Matthew Loncki FB-LB 5-7 150

Drew Luber TE-DE 6-1 170

Jeremiah McGregor OL-DT 5-10 220

Connor Mulcahy OL-DT 5-9 190

Paul Quale RB-LB 5-6 130

Connor Ripp TE-DE 6-3 195

Cody Stronach RB-LB 5-10 140

Dylan Sundt OL-DT 5-10 225

POYNETTE

Coach: Todd Anderson, ninth season (47-31).

On offense: The Pumas return only three starters but feature some talent at the skill positions — led by junior Tanner Bruchs, who threw for 600 yards and eight touchdowns last season. Junior Scott Lenius rushed for 275 yards and Riley Lytle caught six passes last year. Anderson expects to alter the offensive scheme to take advantage of his depth at running back. “We will have to replace our entire offensive line but have experience in the skill positions,” Anderson said.

On defense: The Pumas allowed only 17.5 points per game last year and aim to improve on that total by stepping up the physical nature of their play, starting with the front four. The heart of the defense will be the linebacking crew, led by 2012 tackle leader Alex Seng.

The bottom line: A strong backfield will have to carry Poynette as the Pumas try to end a two-year playoff cold spell.

Returning letterwinners

Seniors Pos. Ht. Wt.

Wesley Gorman RB-DB 5-11 135

Mitchell Mickelson QB-DB 5-11 165

Jacob Prey WR-DB 5-9 155

Alex Seng RB-LB 5-11 180

Meko Washington RB-DB 5-7 155

Juniors Pos. Ht. Wt.

Tanner Bruchs QB-DB 6-3 175

Scott Lenius RB-LB 5-10 175

Riley Lytle TE-DE 6-2 185

Tower Menning OL-DL 6-2 265

Jacob Reddeman RB-LB 6-2 165

WATERTOWN LUTH. PREP

Coach: Justin Gregorius, first season.

On offense: All told, Luther Prep will have to replace nine graduated players (on offense and defense) who made the all-conference listings last fall. Those losses could be especially tough on the offensive side. Joshua Von Deylen is the most experienced returnee, but Joe Rodewald also took some snaps.

On defense: Despite last year’s struggles, the defense stepped up when the matchups were favorable, shutting out Waterloo and holding Lake Mills, New Glarus/Monticello and Columbus to 14 points or fewer. Ryan Runke and Sam Hirsch return in the backfield, linebackers Eric Griebenow and Rodewald will be key players, and Mike Fritze and 280-pound Joe Perry are expected to anchor the line.

The bottom line: The Phoenix have struggled in the league play in recent years — the team’s most recent playoff appearance came in 2006. With plenty of strong teams looking to challenge Lakeside’s three-year league reign this fall, Gregorius — who replaces a 15-year veteran in Ken Taylor — looks to have his program in rebuilding mode.

Returning letterwinners

Seniors Pos. Ht. Wt.

Dylan Baldassari WR 5-9 150

Barton Cox OL 5-11 250

Simeon Crass RB 5-10 160

Eddie Endicott RB 5-9 210

Josh Enstad OL 5-9 210

Mike Fritze DL 5-9 160

Eric Griebenow LB 5-10 200

Sam Hirsch DB 5-11 150

Tom Krogmann OL 5-11 165

Lukas Lapp RB 5-8 145

Trevor Minnema RB 5-9 150

Joe Perry DL 6-0 280

Joe Rodewald QB/LB 5-11 155

Ethan Roeseler WR 6-0 160

Ryan Runke DB 6-0 140

Nathan Savage WR 5-6 140

Joel Scheuerlein OL/DL 6-2 190

Jake Schlomer OL 6-0 220

Owen Steinbrenner WR 6-1 140

Joshua Von Deylen QB 6-0 170

Juniors Pos. Ht. Wt.

Mitchell Kohlmetz RB 5-10 155

James Heichelbech OL 6-3 225

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