Football: Des Lacs-Burlington Lakers have sights set on playoffs after narrowly missing last season

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Some say it’s the most wonderful time of the year: football season.

With the start of the season right around the corner, teams have already hit the field.

The Des Lacs-Burlington Lakers went 4-5 last season, narrowly missing the playoffs. They share what this year’s roster looks like and what they’re doing to turn the team around.

“They just love the game. They love to be out here. They love to hang out with each other and that’s just fun to be a part of and witness,” said Taylor Teske, head football coach.

Teske is heading into his second season as head coach of the Lakers. He was an assistant for five years before switching roles.

“I also teach out here so I mean I get to see the kids every day. I spend 8-9 hours with them, especially the football players that are hereafter school for practice. So yeah, it definitely helps transition there coming into the head coaching position,” Teske said.

Navigating the first year as head coach can be overwhelming. Coach Teske says one of the challenges of last season was the pandemic.

“Just the day-to-day. Not really knowing if the season would end or what kind of different complications you might have with players getting put into quarantine and then the contact tracing with that. It really made a person just enjoy every day that you were here,” Teske said.

And that’s something seniors Caleb Rist and Jayson Kurtz agree with.

“It’ll just be nice not to have to worry about all the little things and just focus on football,” said Kurtz, noseguard/offensive guard.

“We’re trying to change a lot of things with a new coach. Like, change the culture and it didn’t help that every single week we had to worry about quarantine, we had people getting off the team all the time because testing positive or in close contact. It’ll just be really nice to just play a normal football season,” said Rist, running back.

Heading into this season, there are about seven players returning on both offense and defense.

“We have some holes to fill. We should get those young kids ready to step up and fill those holes,” Teske said.

“I think the main thing with the little guys is you’ve got to make sure that they know what they’re doing, but you don’t always necessarily got to yell at them. You’ve got to coach them the way they need to be coached. And then they’ll slowly pick it up. You can’t expect them to learn it in a week, but they’ll pick it up eventually,” Rist said.

And making it to the playoffs after missing the opportunity last season is what the Lakers have their sights set on.

“I thought we played a lot of good football last year. The biggest thing is, I was just telling my players today, we need to be more consistent. We played a lot of good halves, but not a lot of good full football games. That resulted in a lot of close losses,” Teske said.

“I think we work hard. I think this year, we’re kind of changing our culture a little bit. We just got a new coach last year, so I think we’re going to pick up off that and slowly get better,” Rist said.

“You know, I think we have a lot of guys that work hard and will continue to work hard. I think that’s definitely one of our biggest strengths,” Kurtz said.

Coach Teske says a big thing DLB is focusing on this season, is taking it game by game.

“I mean, our focus is just that day, on that day. You can’t really look too far ahead. You can’t look two weeks ahead. I mean, our focus is, ‘Tomorrow, what can we get better at?’ And then just stack days on days and hopefully improve each day and then when Friday nights come, hopefully, we’re ready to put forth our best effort,” Teske said.

“I think this year there’s going to be a really big change in our team from last year. I’m not very happy with our team last year. It’s the first day, but I think we’re taking the right steps already,” Rist said.

“We’re all ready to work hard and win some football games,” Kurtz said.

DLB’s first game is at home. They host the Nedrose Cardinals at 7 p.m. on Aug. 20.

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