It will be a tough learning curve as four playoff teams from 2007 appear in the Chargers' new district
The Laurens-Marathon Chargers join a number of area teams in being shuffled around districts this fall. They leave class A district 3 and will begin their tenure in eight-man district 2.
The Chargers were a competitive team in class A last season as they went 5-4 to finish tied for third in the district. Only Alta and Newell-Fonda finished better.
Mike Ehn is entering his 12th season with Laurens-Marathon, seven of which he has been the head coach. Ehn is 26-29 in his tenure.
Laurens Marathon was a potent team offensively last fall. The Chargers did the majority of their damage on the ground last year as they ran for nearly 2000 yards and fnished 3rd in he district in points scored.
The Chargers will look to repeat that consistancy in the ground game, but they will have to do so without their two leading rushers from last season.
"Our two running backs that we lost ran for over 1500 yards last season," said Ehn. "It's something we definitely have to improve on. Our linemen have to do a better job at getting holes opened up and we need our new backs to step up. We've got about three or four kids vying for those spots right now. So we've got some question marks."
The Chargers retain their starting quarterback from a year ago in Zach Lovin. Lovin was a dual threat for Laurens-Marathon last season as he threw for just under 900 yards and ran for another 200 to keep the chains moving during his junior campaign.
Unfortunately, gone is his favorite target last season, Travis Leuer, who totalled over 600 receiving yards en route to all-district honors.
"Lovin is going to have to be a postitive leader for us," said Ehn. " He has to command the huddle and get the offense in their sets. We've got a lot of seniors that played for us last year at receiver. Hopefully one of those guys can step up this fall."
Laurens Marathon should be solid along the offensive and defensive fronts as they bring back a lot of big bodies with a whole lot of varsity experience. Seniors Ryan Stumbo, Tyler Smith, Andy Larson, Jarrod Reese, and Cody Simpson were all starters on the line last season and will look to adjust to the new sets and schemes of the eight-man game.
"We've got a lot of seniors back along the line," said Ehn. "Making the transition from eleven man to eight man is a challenge. We've got to get those kids to be able to make that switch. We've had some kids play a lot, but that doesn't mean we'll automatically be able to do it again. We have to prove that we can perform all over again."
The Chargers new district opponents are Ruthven-
Ayrshire, Graettinger-Terril, Twin River Valley, West Bend Mallard, Armstrong Ringsted, Harris Lake Park, and North Sentral Kossuth.
Armstrong rolled through the district last year as they lost only two games all season and should be among the favorites again. They were able to put up an astounding 550 points during the season.
West Bend Mallard and Graettinger Terril could also be tough matchups as they move down to eight man this season as well.
"Potentially we could challenge for the district title," said Ehn. "We'll need our younger players to step up though. It's definitely a tough district. Four teams were playoff qualifiers from a year ago. We've got to come out every Friday night and compete. If we're not ready to play, then it's going to be a long year. With as much as experience as we have we'll compete if we come ready to play. The biggest thing is transitioning to eight man football. The kids have adapted well. The biggest thing for the coaches is to get them in the right positions and re-learning the new offensive and defensive tendencies. If the young kids develop and the older kids keep improving, we could be right in it. "