To put it mildly, the list of departing Lake Geneva Badger seniors from last season’s Southern Lakes Conference championship team is lengthy.
Conference offensive player of the year Will Keller and first-team all-conference offensive linemen Sarek Hoerth and Sam Kaider are gone. So is last season’s starting quarterback, Colton Surges.
Defensively, the Badgers lost first-team all-conference performers Alex Evans and Nick Aufmuth and four second-team performers.
Losing all-conference talent is old news to Badger coach Matt Hensler, who has directed his program to three straight conference titles and a 17-game conference winning streak.
“Lot of new faces, but it’s not necessarily good or bad,” Hensler said. “It’s just the nature of high school sports where you get kids for a couple years, so we try not to worry about it too much.”
Nevertheless, the inexperienced Badgers have little room for error in the first three weeks, with nonconference home games against Greendale and Kenosha Bradford before traveling to rival Waterford.
“Some of these kids played behind some guys who played a lot of football the past few years,” Hensler said. “I don’t really think we’ve talked about last year at all, we’re just focusing on this year."
The quarterback spot is still up for grabs, with senior Connor Clifford and junior Grant DuMez battling for the nod.
“The differences between the quarterbacks are subtler than they are glaring,” Hensler said. “They have similar body types and skill sets.”
The backfield will feature a three-man running back rotation of senior Jordan Hodges and juniors Mitch Rife and Drew Laskowski, with senior fullbacks Hunter Wrezisinski and Nathan Kramer.
The offensive line returns senior Jimmy Stackpool and junior Kyle Freund. Senior tight end John Lininger, along with senior Gavin Hoerth, junior Dalton Creighton, Zach Brumm and Vinny Danno are also in the mix.
“We rely so heavily on our offensive line for what we do," Hensler said. “They’re starting to get a little bit of an identity, but at this point we are just trying to get better.”
The blocking responsibilities will also fall to returning receiver senior Connor Love and juniors Chase Hodkiewicz and Kerry Gleiter.
The defensive line will feature two-way linemen, along with junior Will Faul and senior Hayden Fourman.
“The key here is to get some of our other guys to step up, so we can get some of the other guys off the field,” Hensler said.
The linebackers in Hensler’s 4-3 scheme include Kramer, Laskowski and Brett Adams.
In the defensive backfield, senior cornerback Brandon Bernardo is in the mix, along with Hodges, Love and junior Jake Harren. The safety group includes Ethan Sheen, Hodkiewicz, and senior Kyler Satterstrom.
The Badgers' quest for a fourth straight conference championship will be daunting, with the top half of the Lakes figuring to be strong once again.
With one of the most consistent programs in the area, chances are good that Badger will be battling for another conference title.
Lake Geneva Badger 2018 roster
1;Grant DuMez;Jr.; 6-1;188;QB/DB