The fall sports season began August 9, with the first official practices for fall sports teams.
In 2020 Bennington finished with a record of 9-2. Some key injuries late in the season resulted in a quarterfinal loss to Plattsmouth.
Here are notes and observations from the Badgers practice on Saturday.
The offensive line is a strength and likely one of the best in Class B. Two Wayne State commits are the starters on the right side of the line. Senior Jameson Krayneski (6-5, 275) at tackle and senior Jack Stier (6-2, 275) at right guard. Stier holds the school record deadlift of 550-pounds. Senior Cody Harris (6-5, 220), left guard Nate Schaefer (6-2, 220) and senior left tackle Carter Lerch (6-4, 220) give the Badgers plenty of size and up front.
Senior middle linebacker Luke MacDonald (6-1, 220) returns. MacDonald, a 2021 state wrestling champion was the team’s leading tackler (109) and sacks (5) last season. He has a knack for finding the football and is relentless in pursuit. Senior Austin Holtz returns at outside linebacker. He had a successful season as a junior with 76 total tackles.
Defensive line is also a strength. They can rotate the big offensive line if needed. Senior Chevalier Curry (5-11, 260) returns on the inside. Look for Curry to use his strength and speed to improve on his 65 total tackles from last season. Junior Ethan Nguyen (6-4, 215) at defensive end is a name that could have a big impact for the Badger defense this season.
Tyler LeClair graduated and it isn’t easy replacing one of if not the best player in the Badgers history. LeClair wasn’t just a standout at running back, he was a pretty good outside linebacker. His 802 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns along with his 97 total tackles won’t be easy to replace. Senior back Dylan Mostek has good speed as evident by his personal best 10.87 100-meter dash time. Mostek stepped in nicely for LeClair at the end of the season with back to back 100-yard rushing games to end the season in 2020.
At quarterback Kale Bird has moved on after a strong season on the ground and through the air at the position. Replacing his 3,410 total yards will be a bit of a challenge. Look for senior Seth Wempen (5-11, 170) who didn’t play as a junior due to an injury to be the starter at quarterback. Prior to the injury he was in a position battle with Bird. Saturday, he looked fully healthy and looks to be a significant dual-threat option. Junior Trey Bird looks as though he will be the backup to Wempen.
Receiver has plenty of options outside of senior Cayden Bluhm (6-1, 170) who led the team in receiving touchdowns (11) last season. Bluhm was also second on the team in receiving yards (757). There is plenty of opportunity and options available at the receiver position in 2021. Most of them are unproven on the varsity level. Bluhm is the only returner at the position with more than 10 varsity receptions. Owen Doulgas, a junior and senior Mitch Anderson are the starting corners and could be options at receiver if needed.