By PATRICK SLACK
For the Pierz football team, the objective is straightforward: stay healthy and good things will happen.
That’s because the Pioneers return the majority of their starters from a squad that won the Central Minnesota Conference and ran away with the Section 6AA championship a year ago.
Add to that a group of experienced players ready to step in and contribute and the Pioneers should be in the mix to repeat both feats if they can keep their players on the field this fall.
Leading the way is senior running back and linebacker Josh Lanners, the 2011 Morrison County Record Player of the Year.
Lanners was a dynamic force on both sides of the ball, rushing for 1,320 yards and 19 touchdowns on offense and making 53 solo tackles while assisting on 40 more on defense.
Also returning as starters are seniors Ben Boser (quarterback/wide receiver/defensive back), Nick Lochner (center/defensive end), Travis Johnson (left tackle) and Mitch Hasert (guard) and juniors Tyler Millner (running back) and Nathan Athman (defensive tackle).
Other players expected to play significant roles are seniors Brad Meyer (wide receiver/defensive back), T.J. Hoheisel (wide receiver/defensive back), Brady Dorn (tight end/defensive end), Matt Brezinka (wide receiver/defensive back), Brent Stangl (tight end/defensive tackle), Colby Eden (quarterback/linebacker), Jon Fuhrman (running back/defensive back) and Cody Meyer (guard/defensive tackle) and juniors Curtis Brisk (offensive tackle/defensive tackle), Andy Kapsner (running back/linebacker), Ryley Smude (guard/defensive tackle) and Austin Hoheisel (guard/defensive end) and sophomore Robbie Skiba (running back/linebacker), head coach Leo Pohlkamp said.
Graduating from last year’s team were Preston Weber, Logan Meyer, Brad Trapp, Cody Poster, Dustin Waytashek, Trent Davis and Nathan Tomala.
Seniors on this year’s team include T.J. Hoheisel, Stangl, Lochner, Boser, Elias Schomer, Brad Meyer, Hasert, Eden, Johnson, Lanners, Fuhrman, Cullin Carter, Dorn, Cody Meyer, Andy Taylor and Brezinka.
Pierz opens the season at Melrose Area, Aug. 31, with its home opener coming against Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted, Sept. 14.