A couple years ago, Reedsburg was coming off of back-to-back trips to the state semifinals, part of a run of five straight trips to the playoffs. Now, the Beavers work towards returning to the postseason, but there's work to do in order to replace a large graduating senior class from last year.
"We have high expectations every year," said head coach Brian Pottinger. "To not be able to get into the playoffs last year was disappointing. I think it motivated our players to work hard in the offseason."
A good deal of the contributors to the team in 2017 have now graduated, and the incoming senior class is around a dozen players. Coach Pottinger noted several areas in which there are opportunities for younger players to step up.
"We lost a lot of players," said coach Pottinger. "We've only got back three or four on offense, probably the same on defense."
Leading rusher Casey Campbell is back after earning honorable mention Badger North honors in 2017, picking up 457 yards and three touchdowns. Jason Walls also returns, as he ran for 361 yards and two scores on a team-high 86 carries out of the fullback spot. Combined, the rest of the returning players picked up 27 yards on the ground.
In the pass game, not a focus for the Beavers, Hayden Hahn threw one pass last season (and caught two, tied for second on the team). Campbell was the leading receiver last year, with five catches for 145 yards and the only touchdown through the air for Reedsburg last season.
"We'll be leaning on our skill positions this year," noted Pottinger, as most of the graduation losses were up front. "We've only got two guys back on the offensive line," said Pottinger. "On defense... all over the place."
Back on the lines will be honorable mention all-conference lineman John Schmitt and senior Nathan Evans. Most of the rest of the playing time will go to underclassmen.
Defensively, Schmitt (79 tackles, 6 tackles for a loss last year) is the anchor up front, with Wayde Ernstmeyer providing production off the edge (67 tackles, one sack in 2017) and Robert Losic anchoring the linebacker group (85 tackles, 2 TFLs last season). In the defensive backfield, Jon Zobel earned honorable mention all-conference recognition after piling up 45 tackles, three for a loss, in 2017. Carter Daniels and Mason McSweeney also had some solid contributions on defense in 2017.
Special teams will be another area of change, with Reedsburg's top kicker, punter, and return man, Mason McMillen, graduating.
After dropping both crossover games last year, Reedsburg will get a chance to exact revenge in their games this year. First up is a road trip to Monroe, followed by a home date with Milton. Badger North play begins in Week 3 when they make the drive over to DeForest.
Week 4 is the conference home opener against Sauk Prairie, before the Beavers begin a run of three straight 2017 playoff teams. On September 14, it's the Beaver Bowl against Beaver Dam, followed by a home game against Mount Horeb/Barneveld. Reedsburg will travel to defending Division 2 champion Waunakee in Week 7.
October starts with a road game against Portage, and then the season finale is against Baraboo, a renewal of the longest-running rivalry in the state of Wisconsin. Baraboo won the latest edition to close out the 2017 season.
Here is The Big 1070's interview with Reedsburg head coach Brian Pottinger:
Reedsburg Beavers - Badger North
Head Coach: Brian Pottinger (13th Season), 73-57 (17-6 Playoffs) - State Championship in 2009
2017 Result: 2-7 (2-5) - 5th in the Badger North
Three-Year Record: 15-17 (3-2 playoffs)
2017 All-Conference Honors: 0 First-Team, 0 Second-Team, 13 Honorable Mention (13 total)
Three-Year All-Conference Totals: 10 First-Team, 6 Second-Team, 23 Honorable Mention (39 total)
Returning All-Conference Players (3): DB/WR Jon Zobel (HM-DB), Sr.; OL John Schmitt (HM-OL), Jr.; RB/DB Casey Campbell (HM-RB), Jr.
Other Players To Watch: QB/DB Hayden Hahn, Sr.; FB/LB Jason Walls, Sr.; RB/LB Joel Sterkowitz, Sr.; FB/LB Adam Belk, Sr.; RB/LB Mason McSweeney, Sr.; DE/TE Wayde Ernstmeyer, Sr.; DB/WR Zebastian Brown, Sr.; DB/WR Noah Klingbeil, Sr.; OL/DL Nathan Evans, Sr.; LB/FB Robert Losic, Jr.; DE/TE Carter Daniels, Jr.