MINOCQUA - For the first time in almost a decade, the Thunderbird senior class will have spent all four years under the same head coach.
"They know my expectations, they know me, they are bought into the program," said Lakeland football head coach Dan Barutha.
Barutha is one of the few offensive minds in the Northwoods to run the spread offense. And this year is no different.
"We have guys with speed and space so that's why we are going to run the spread," Barutha said. We want to push the ball vertical any chance we get. The goal of our offense is anytime we touch the ball we want to score."
Senior quarterback Michael Ouimette could be one of the most dangerous weapons for the T-birds.
"He understands the offense inside and out, he's really vocal and taking ownership of things. He's making great reads, not afraid to step up in the whole, dropping his shoulder, being aggressive in the run game and
I look for him to have a big year," Barutha said.
Ouimette will be surrounded by thirteen other seniors who are ready to do what teams in the past couldn't.
"We are super excited. We all have goals set that we want to make. We all want to do well based on previous years, we haven't done as well as we've wanted to and we want to make that step," Ouimette said.
Lakeland will have to achieve those goals without two all-conference wide receivers. Both Ray Rentmeester and Jake Rexroade graduated after last season.
"It's going to be hard to replace Ray and Jake because they were both very good athletes and great receivers but we also have great receivers out here now. People just have to step up and make roles," Ouimette said.
"We are going reload in terms of those guys and those understand the expectations as a Lakeland receiver you are the best guy on the field," Barutha said. "There is a culture of receiver that we have developed around here and those guys are committed to it.
Lakeland is also committed to turning last years 4-5 record into a winning season.
"We want to be conference champs. We want to make a playoff run but we also want to be better players, better examples on the field and do our best very game," Ouimette said.