Last football season wasn’t a bad year for Laconia High School. In fact, it was pretty good.
The Spartans went 4-4 in the Flyway conference and made the playoffs — all with only five seniors on the roster.
This season, Laconia is poised to be even better, and the pace at early practices has second-year coach Mark Madigan pleased. He said teams usually have only base plays installed before the scrimmage at the end of week 2. Madigan said this season was like Week 4 from the beginning.
He has a lot to be excited about on offense, including four returning linemen who have experience in front of a beast of a running back Cody Moon.
“First and foremost, I think our team is going to start with our offensive line,” Madigan said.
Tyler Rickert at center and Matt Blechl at guard are both returning all-conferene honorable-mention players from a season ago. Tyler Zickert, a 6-5, 270 junior will be the right tackle. Nick Zimmerman, a 6-4, 275-pound junior, is a guy who Madigan said has been nearly unblockable on the defensive front, and he will play a tackle on offense.
“There are some kids who re really hungry for success, and that’s a great quality for teams to have,” Madigan said when accessing Zimmerman and the offensive line.
The linemen will be blocking for Moon, a 1,000-yard rusher last year and a honorable-mention all-conference running back. Madigan can’t say enough good things about Moon, who is also a standout wrestler, after placing fifth at State last winter.
“You’ve got a guy with an incredible athletic body,” Madigan said. “He’s weighing in at 230 pounds, and the other day we were running 40s on the track and he ran a 4.7. Not only is he a big dude but he’s got the ability to break away as a runner.”
Moon averaged 20 carries last season, and Madigan said he could probably take a workload of 30, but there are a couple of juniors who will see time in the backfield lining up behind senior fullback Jesse Tipton. Moon said he’d be happy to be the focus of the offense.
“I want to be,” he said. It depends.”
Moving the ball shouldn’t depend solely on Moon. Quarterback Nick Vollmer is back after an injured hamstring last season hindered his ability to compete for the starting job as a sophomore.
“He adds another threat to our offense,” Moon said about Vollmer. “He can throw well.”
Madigan said Vollmer throws a good ball, but he won’t have to do too much in an offense with multiple weapons.
“He’s got a lot of experience in big games playing basketball and baseball, and he’s got a lot of great leadership qualities to him,” Madigan said.
So, the Spartans will move the football, but what does their defense look like?
With Moon roaming around in different areas the defense should be just fine. Moon was a second-team all-conference player on defense last year and can line-up as a defensive end, linebacker or safety in the Laconia multiple-front system. Madigan said that college Football Championship Subdivision teams along with several Division II schools have been interested in Moon and project him to play outside linebacker.
Blechl, Zimmerman and senior Patrick Ferguson should be stout along the defensive front, and Laconia has experience in senior Jordan Behm returning at cornerback.
Moon said Tipton will be a hard-hitting strong safety and Rickert will be a tough linebacking mate.
Madigan projects that Springs will again be the top team in the league. He said any team that wants to beat the Ledgers better be able to score a lot of points because Springs will be able to move the ball on anybody. The coach said Omro’s experienced offensive and defensive lines will put the Foxes toward the top of the standings. Then he like Kettle Moraine Lutheran.
“We’ve got to knock one of them off to get up into that top-three level,” he said. “It’s going to be a battle. But if we can strive to be at that level we can be competitive once we get to the playoffs.”
Last season, the Spartans went out of the playoffs in the first round with a loss to Amherst. This year has the makings of a deeper run.
“I expect to make a big push this year,” Moon said.