Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Al Rose
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

Rebels set goals, aim for title


Al Rose

The Moose Lake/Willow Rive Rebels football team is ready for a new season.

After winning their 10th consecutive Section 7AA title, but losing the state quarterfinal game and ending up with a record of 8-4, the 2016 Rebels have set goals to win an 11th consecutive section title and go beyond to win all of the state tournament games, including the Prep Bowl, to earn a state Class AA championship.

Dave Louzek has been at the helm for 18 years and has amassed a career record of 165-33. Louzek is assisted by Andy Dahl, Scott Battaglia, Tony Andres, James Bohaty, Kevin Szczyrbak and Wes Cummins, with Scott Anderson and Rory Butkiewicz doing video work, Chris Ketchmark being the athletic trainer and Sue Anderson fulfilling the role of taking care of the footballs.

This year's team captains are Bryceton Butkiewicz, Sam Coil and Isaac Riihiluoma. The managers are Andrew Lehman, Joy Eccles, Kallie Johnson and Olivia Moffett.

Assistant coach Kevin Szczyrbak answered a couple of questions. "We continue to be in District Northeast-Blue and in Section 7AA," he said. "There will be two byes this year because Marshall dropped off the schedule. In order to play eight regular season games we picked up Spectrum, a private charter AA team by Elk River," Szczyrbak explained.

Louzek talked about the offense. "At center we could have either Austin Schwarzbauer or Ethan Tomczak, both juniors," he said. "The tackles will be Aidan Szczyrbak and Dakota Fredrick. There is still competition for tight ends between Michael Knezevich, Quentin VonRueden and Ryan Barrett. Quarterback is still open for debate between Connor Radel and Ian Coil. Our first games will determine some positions. We know the wingbacks are Bryceton Butkiewicz and Isaac Riihiluoma. Fullbacks will be defined by what different packages of defenses the teams we play use. We will try some shotgun and other formations depending on our strengths and finding kids who can catch the ball."

Louzek went to the defense. "We will be using a 4-4 defense with some adjustments according to other teams offenses," the coach stated. "Sam Coil and Aidan Szczyrbak will be defensive tackles and John Kachinske and Dakota Fredrick will be defensive ends. The middle linebackers will be Dilon Louzek and Joe Weidendorf. There is competition for outside linebackers between Remington Starck, Anakin Oswald, Trent Juhl and Quentin VonRueden. The cornerbacks are Colton Little and Isaac Riihiluoma and the safety is Bryceton Butkiewicz."

The coach spoke about the progress so far and expectations for a team that carries forth the mantra "Work Hard - Have Fun - Expect To Win."

"We've been working to get more physical," said Louzek. "We graduated a lot of seniors so there will be new kids stepping into starting roles. Our summer workouts and our first weeks of practice have been very promising and the kids are very excited to start the season. Our first main goal is to be in the section final and hopefully to win another section championship to put us in position to compete in the state playoffs. We want to win the state playoff games needed to get us to the Prep Bowl. We've been there three times. We want to win a state championship."

The Rebels host the Class A Barnum Bombers in the season opener on Thursday, September 1, in Willow River at 7 p.m. MLWR plays the Spectrum game in Willow River on Friday, September 9, at 7 p.m., followed by an away game with Esko on Friday, September 16, at 7 p.m.


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