ABBOTSFORD (WAOW) -
Abbotsford shocked the state in 2016, backing up its second-straight Cloverwood title by winning three playoff games and advancing all the way to the state semifinals.
After losing their top two rushers and all of their offensive linemen, the Falcons are hoping this season is more "reload" than "rebuild."
Gone are top rushers Brock Halopka and Ethan Kramas, who together combined for 2,800 yards of total offense.
In their absence, head coach Jacob Knapmiller will put a lot of weight on the shoulders of returning quarterback Ean Rau. Not only will he make the calls on offense, but defense as well - where he'll play middle linebacker in his senior season.
Rau is looked at as the leader, but even he admits he can't do it all by himself.
"We feel we have guys coming back that can do the same thing (Kramas and Halopka did) if we block for them," he said. "Our offensive line is definitely talented enough and I think we can do the same thing."
Knapmiller said that not only does the playoff experience help his returning players, but the added practice time is a benefit. The team grow from the fact that those four playoff games led to four extra weeks of practice.
"We rushed for five thousand yards last year and only three thousand of those were (Halopka and Kramas)," Knapmiller said. "Just being a team and collectively working together
"I think these guys believe in it but they also have individual goals that are awesome and they've worked to achieve them."
Abbotsford opens the season on the road at Crandon on August 18.