The Wadena-Deer Creek Wolverines only have one way to go as they start their 2012 season with new Head Coach Howie Kangas.
The Wolverines will be trying to snap a string of 17 consecutive losses when they open the season Aug. 31 at West Central Area.
Kangas knows a lot more about winning than losing. During his 18 years at the helm of the Perham football program, Kangas saw his teams win 119 games and reach the state tournament three times.
The Wolverines went into the second week of pre-season practice with 32 players on the roster.
"It's a good picture, but it's not a complete picture," Kangas said. "For a school our size, to be in business, we should have 40-50 kids out."
Graduation cost the Wolverines key players like Logan Meyer and Jacob Ludovissie. Meyer carried the running load last year and Ludovissie was a standout tackler on defense.
Kangas wants to go with a "razzle-dazzle" Jet offense this season. The Jet is an up tempo type of offense that emphasizes motion. Kangas intends to make it hard for the competition to prepare for a game with WDC.
"We'll run a shotgun, and with this offense we're able to stretch the field horizontally," Kangas said.
Senior Evan VanErp is back as the team's starting quarterback.
"Evan is really a quick study kid," Kangas said. "He's got good quarterback skills."
Kangas is also planning to put big senior Jake Krause in the backfield so they can threaten the middle of the field. Krause was a tight end on last year's roster.
Juniors Dylan Dumpprope and Nick Carlson shape up as two of WDC's receivers. Slot receiver hybrids will be senior Chris Steward, sophomore Blaine Cooper and freshman Andrew VanErp.
One of the brighter spots for Kangas has been the offensive line. Seniors Mike Paavola and Joey Price and juniors Ricky Price and Wyatt Weber have already shown Kangas some good play.
"They may be a bit undersized, but they are smart," Kangas said.
Kangas wants his defense to be aggressive as his offense is clever.
"We're going to be bringing pressure all the time," Kangas said. "Our philosophy is that we're going to make something happen fast."
Kangas is looking at a solid 15 players as the core of his team, but he is also counting on some of his freshmen.
"For us to be competitive this year, we're going to have to have some freshmen play like seniors," Kangas said.