by Jayson Geiser
(WAOW) - Wisconsin Rapids finished with just four wins in 2009, but hopes couldn't be higher for the Red Raiders. Several starters return for Rapids and they hope to have their best season since advancing to the division one state final in 2005.
"There's a lot of excitement around," said Rapids head coach Tony Biolo. "They know what they've done from last year and put some time in during the offseason and their own expectations are high for themselves and I think that's a pretty good motivating factor."
"We have a lot of seniors coming back and we have a lot of talent and that's going to be really nice and helpful through the whole season."
One of the biggest returnees for the Red Raiders is Wisconsin Valley first team running back Joe Ritchay. Ritchay ran for more than 1200 yards and 8 touchdowns as a junior.
Quarterback Brady Goska will offer a deeper running threat after rushing for more than 750 yards and 17 touchdowns last year as a sophomore.
"We feel if we play to our potential completely and if we stay together as a unit instead of being individual we can go just about anywhere," Ritchay said.
"Those two coming back are a huge piece of the puzzle," Biolo said."Our offensive line has three returners that have got serious playing time so I think we can run behind them."
"The sky's the limit," Biolo said. "But you're in the Wisconsin Valley Conference playing football. The sky's the limit for Marshfield, Stevens Point, DC Everest, Wausau West, Merrill has some good people back. So, we're in the mix with all of them and it's going to be a black and blue season for everybody."
As mentioned, Merrill will once again battle for the Valley title this season. After 2 years in the Great Northern Conference, the Blue Jays return for just this fall and head back to the GNC in 2011. Tom Tourtillott has 11 starters back from last year's G-N-C champ and state semi-finalist. But amongst the losses are a pair of all-conference stars...quarterback Pascal Paul and running back Ross VanDerGeest. One possible solution could be the move of U-W bound tight end Sam Arneson to QB, the position Arneson played as a kid.
Online Reporter - Jayson Geiser