LAUREL — It’s a new era for Laurel-Concord-Coleridge football.
Pat Arens has moved on after guiding the Bears the past several years and in comes Alan Gottula who moves up from an assistant’s role into the big chair.
The Bears went 6-4 last season and advanced to the second round of the D1 playoffs before seeing the campaign finally come to an end.
It was an impressive run during a pandemic and the new year is set to start Friday when the Bears play host to Homer in a Week 0 contest.
“We return an experienced and playoff tested group of 18 juniors and seniors, 14 letterwinners, and five starters on both offense and defense,” Gottula said. “I expect the Bears to be very competitive.”
LCC returns plenty of important pieces including Evan Haisch, Evan Schmitt and Jake Rath, who all started on both sides of the ball.
Offensive starters Aaron Bloom and Kolby Casey and defensive starters Sutton Ehlers and Deagan Puppe also provide valuable expe
Sutton, Ehlers, Haisch, Deagan Puppe and Schmitt all were all-district selections.
Markus Martin, Lucas Rasmussen, Wilton Roberts, Daniel Puppe and Andrew Sohler will likely move from rotational-type players into much more important roles.
Haisch ran for over 1,800 yards while earning all-state honors last year and he believes the future has plenty of exciting things in store for the Bears as Gottula moves up from an assistant’s role to the big chair.
“I think I will have a pretty good season: I just have to run the ball hard and our offensive line works their tails off and work hard,” Haisch said. “Coach G helped us last year, so we all know what we want to know and what we want to do. We also lost only three seniors, so we have quite a bit of kids coming back from mine and the lower classes.
“We don’t have to change much, and we can keep building on the same stuff from last year.”
Last year’s success also did plenty for the program’s confidence.
“We had a bunch of team chemistry, and we all knew what we were going to do when we got out on the football field,” Haisch said. “It felt like we were all on the same page. It was the right step for the evolution of the program since we hadn’t been to the second round in a long time. It gave us confidence that we can keep on going and go farther.”
Gottula is settling in nicely as he has his plans in place.
“We will execute a balanced offensive system coupled with a very athletic defense,” he said. “Our strength is our athleticism and like many schools our size, we will need to develop depth.”
The schedule will be loaded and Gottula expects Wisner-Pilger, Stanton, Wakefield and Lutheran Northeast to be the heaviest hitters.
“We should go further than the second round and have an undefeated (regular) season,” Haisch said.
LCC Football 2021 Schedule
Aug. 20 – vs. Homer; Aug. 27 – at Wisner-Pilger; Sept. 3 – vs. Stanton; Sept. 17 – at Elkhorn Valley; Sept. 24 – vs. Hartington-Newcastle; Oct. 1 – at Plainview; Oct. 8 – at Wakefield; Oct. 15 – vs. Lutheran NE.
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