2017 High School Football Preview: Lodi

Lodi Blue Devils - Capitol North

Coach: Dave Puls (14th Season), 110-36 Overall (17-13 in the Playoffs in 13 Appearances)

2016 Result: 8-3 (3-2), 2nd in the Capitol North (Lost in Level 2 of the Division 4 Playoffs to River Valley, 33-7)

Three-Year Record: 32-6 (8-3 Playoffs)

2016 All-Conference Honors: 9 First-Team, 4 Second-Team, 2 Honorable Mention (15 total)

Three-Year All-Conference Totals: 29 First-Team, 14 Second-Team, 6 Honorable Mention (49 total)

Returning All-Conference Players (9): RB/DE/KR Jacob Heyroth (First Team-RB and ST) (Honorable Mention-DE) (WSN Class of 2018 Players to Watch - RB), Sr.; TE/DL Kade Krissinger (First Team-TE and DL) (WSN Class of 2018 Players to Watch - DL), Sr.; OL/DL Lucas Brisky (First Team-OL) (WSN Class of 2018 Players to Watch - OL), Sr.; FB/LB Max Barreau (First Team-LB) (Second Team-LB in 2015) (WSN Class of 2018 Players to Watch - LB), Sr.; QB/DB Dominic Scola (First Team-DB) (WSN Class of 2018 Players to Watch - DB), Sr.; K Savannah Curtis (Second Team-K) (WSN Class of 2018 Players to Watch - K), Sr.; OL/DL Will Richards (Second Team-DL), Sr.; OL/DL Desmon Sachtjen (Second Team-OL), Jr.; OL/DL Anthony Benson (Honorable Mention-OL), Sr.

Other Players To Watch: QB/DB Cameron McDonald, Sr.; RB/LB Mitchell Nellon, Sr.; WR/DB Trevor VonBehren, Sr.; WR/DB Canyon Bacon, QB/DB Owen Jelinek, Jr.

2017 Schedule: Go Here

BIG Games: August 18 vs Delavan-Darien, September 8 at Marshall, September 15 at Lake Mills, September 29 vs Columbus

Lodi's follow-up to a trip to the state finals in 2015 was an 8-3 campaign that saw the Blue Devils continue their 16-game playoff appearance streak.

Another streak, winning a playoff game, was extended to four seasons. All told, the Blue Devils will welcome in seniors who have been a part of eight playoff victories in eleven playoff games, including two trips to the state semi-finals and one trip to state.

Expectations are high for the Lodi football program this year, as they return a half-dozen players on WisSports.net's lists of players to watch state-wide. After graduating a relatively small class of nine players, the Blue Devils will bring in over two dozen returning seniors for the 2017 campaign.

All told, Lodi will bring back nine players who earned all-conference honors last year, and feature six players on WisSports.net's class of 2018 watch lists across six different positions. Most of those players are two-way standouts.

On offense, they will return one of the state's best running backs in first-team all-conference selection Jacob Heyroth, who had nearly 1,200 yards rushing and 16 touchdowns last year. A senior, Heyroth,, one of WisSports.net's running backs to watch in the class of 2018, also earned first-team honors for his work as a kick and punt returner, picking up over 500 yards on returns and a touchdown.

Heyroth will run behind a line that has a trio of all-conference honorees, lead by Lucas Brisky, who was a first-team all-conference pick and is one of WisSports.net's class of 2018 players to watch. Junior Desmon Sachtjen earned second-team all-conference honors last year, while senior Anthony Benson made the honorable mention list along the front line.

Lodi returns both of its quarterbacks from a year ago. Senior Cameron McDonald, who threw roughly 75% of the passes for the Blue Devils last year, is back, as will Dominic Scola, Lodi threw only about a dozen times per game last year. Most of the focus on offense will be on the running backs, where Heyroth will be joined by fellow returning senior MItchell Nellon, only 11 yards shy of being the team's second-leading rusher in 2016.

While there's only about a dozen attempts per game, the pass-catching group returns tight end Kade Crissinger, a first-team all-conference pick at the position. At receiver, no returning player not already mentioned above caught more than four passes last year, but several returning seniors will be vying for playing time in passing situations.

Defensively, Crissinger, an all-conference first-teamer at defensive line and also on WisSports.net's class of 2018 defensive linemen to watch, will be part of a star-studded line that also includes Heyroth (honorable mention at defensive end) and second-team all-conference lineman Will Richards. In the linebacker group, Max Barreau, who earned his second selection to the all-conference team last year and is also on WisSports.net's class of 2018 linebackers to watch, looks to anchor the position after leading the team in tackles last year. Mitchell Nellon, sixth on the team in tackles a season ago, also returns as a linebacker.

In the defensive backfield, the group will be centered around first-team all-conference defensive back Dominic Scola, who is the fifth class of 2018 player on Lodi that is on a WisSports.net watch list, and this one for defensive backs. Scola had four interceptions and a pick-six last year. Senior Trevor VonBehren is back as well on the back end, as is Owen Jelinek, who is a junior. Senior Canyon Bacon had an interception in limited playing time last year and could be in the mix in the secondary.

Special teams has a weapon in WisSports.net class of 2018 player to watch list member and second-team all-conference selection Savannah Curtis at kicker. Curtis converted 36 of 37 extra point tries and was five of seven on field goal attempts. Jacob Heyroth, as noted in the section on offense, is a weapon in the return game, with over 500 yards on kick and punt returns, including a touchdown.

All told, Lodi will bring back nine players who earned all-conference honors last year, and feature six players on WisSports.net's class of 2018 watch lists across six different positions. Most of those players are two-way standouts.

On the schedule, Lodi will open the season once again with Delavan-Darien. The Comets lost in Level 2 of the Division 3 playoffs last year, and it was a close opener last year with Lodi earning a hard-fought 10-6 victory.

The Blue Devils' first road game is at Wisconsin Dells, a winless team in 2016. Lodi stays in the South Central conference the following week, hosting Nekoosa, a playoff qualifier in Division 4 last year.

A tough stretch of road games takes the Blue Devils from non-conference play to Capitol North action. First up is a crossover game against Marshall, on the road. The Cardinals made the playoffs in 2016. Lodi's conference opener is against Lake Mills, a team that defeated Lodi last year, 35-28, and returns one of the state's best quarterback-receiver tandems in Ben Dunkleberger and Hayden Iverson. Week 6 wraps up the road trip for Lodi when they visit Lakeside Lutheran.

The Blue Devils return home on September 29, in Week 7, in one of the most anticipated games in the state when they host Columbus. The Cardinals finally earned a win over the Blue Devils, 21-17, last year en route to their Capitol North championship.

Lodi plays on the road again in Week 8 against Luther Prep before wrapping up the regular season at home against Poynette.

While every team is dangerous in the Capitol North, Lodi, Lake Mills, and Columbus figure to be the favorites this season, with the match-ups between those three squads important for both the conference race and playoff seeding. Lakeside Lutheran, Luther Prep, and Poynette all bring important pieces back as well, and it will make for some great drama in the Capitol North.

--Jimmie Kaska @jimmekaska

Information from WisSports.net was used in this preview. Visit WisSports.net for everything you need to gear up for the high school sports season.

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