With ten lettermen returning off last year's 7-3 team, the outlook looks bright again this season for the Laurens-Marathon/Albert City-Truesdale Raider football team.
The Raiders used the passing attack effectively last year, as departed senior quarterback Barry Hakes passed for 1170 yards and is now playing for Northern Iowa Community College (NIACC) in Mason City.
In 2002, the Raiders lost in the first round of the District playoffs, losing to eventual state champion Akron-Westfield.
Passing should again figure prominently this season in LM/ACT's offensive game plan. The team returns All-District receiver Devin Stewart, a 5-foot-10 senior who had 26 catches last season for 423 yards.
Meanwhile, the Raiders return three starters on offense and four on defense. According to LM/ACT coach Mike Ehn, depth could be an important factor for his team.
"We like what we have coming back, but we've got to stay healthy," said, Ehn, who lost 14 seniors off of last year's team.
Defensively, the Raiders; strength will be in the defensive backfield. That group includes all district defensive back Steven Sernett. The defense also all district lineman Josh Hyde, a 6-foot-2, 250-pound guard.
Returning at linebacker is Tyler Hogrefe, who had 200 tackles last season.
Hogrefe doubled as a running back on offense, where he ran for 1,170 yards.
Elsewhere, Ehn said, the team is young at the running back position.
"But we have some strong candidates at those spots, and we have some kids who can really go."
Ehn expects his team to challenge for a district title by the end of the season, though Marcus, Alta and Meridian-Cleghorn should be strong.
"We might struggle in the early part of the season, but if you younger kids make improvements as the seasoin goes on, we could challenge for the district title again."