The question going into last fall was if Pierz could handle playing up a level in Class AAA.
There’s no doubt entering this season.
After an uneven start a year ago during which they lost their first two Central Minnesota Conference games, the Pioneers came on strong down the stretch.
Pierz won four of its final five regular season games, then ran through the Section 5AAA tournament as the fourth seed before dropping a tightly-contested state quarterfinal match-up to Proctor.
Now, the Pioneers will look to maintain their standing as one of the top football programs in the state, doing it against larger schools.
To do so this year, Pierz will have to replace the devastating speed and power running duo of Tyler Millner and Nathan Athman to establish its perennially punishing ground attack.
“I feel we have some running backs capable in (senior) Robbie Skiba, (junior) Noah Boser, (junior) Jonny Kasper, (junior) Logan Stangl and (sophomore) Lane Girtz,” Pohlkamp said. “That could be a key depth for our team.
“We always look to build a strong running game and hope to be a balanced offense by the end of the year,” he said.“Every year we think big and we will strive to get better for the end of the year. Stay healthy and get the kids believing.”
Senior Ethan Lochner and junior Aaron Weber split time at quarterback during the state tournament game last fall, and will compete for the starting job entering this season.
“Both are good candidates and they will battle for the job … nice to have two capable QBs. They did work on their games this summer,” Pohlkamp said.
Returning as starters for the Pioneers are seniors Lochner, Skiba, Beau Winscher, Dan Pagel, Austin Gall and Ryan Schmidtbauer and juniors Kasper, Boser and Michael Meyer.
Pierz is scheduled to open the season at Milaca, Thursday, with its home opener against Maple Lake, Sept. 5.