Lodi captured the school's first-ever state football championship in 2017 behind a senior class that won 35 games in three seasons. The Blue Devils' title defense will be a test of how quickly the power program can reload.
That's because of all the players listed on the two-deep for the state championship last year, only a handful are back. In fact, just five returning players appeared on the two-deep for the Division 4 state title victory over St. Croix Central that will be returning to the Blue Devils program this season. Especially on offense, an influx of youth will be responsible for filling some of the most important positions on the field.
Only two players (both reserves) total return to the offensive and defensive lines. Gabe Pickarts was a backup defensive tackle in 2017. Ben Rashid is back as a rotation edge rusher, and was also the backup fullback last year. On offense, in addition to Rashid, Colton Nicolay is back as well. The two players combined for nearly 400 yards rushing and five touchdowns. Austin Soehle, Kenan Cunningham, Mason Ripp, Alec Moen, and Zach Potter all recorded carries last season as well. Only Rashid and Niolay caught passes last year that are returning for Lodi.
Defensively, the Blue Devils will have some leadership in the back half. Honorable mention all-conference defensive back Riley Faust returns at corner, while safety Owen Jelinek, who broke up a pass in overtime to preserve the state championship for Lodi, also is back as a starter. Ben Rashid will play off the edge, and Austin Soehle was a second-team all-conference linebacker in 2017.
Special teams-wise, punter Dylan Streeter returns, but he was third on punts on the team last season. The outstanding Savannah Curtis graduates, leaving a big spot to fill at kicker. Nicolay and Rashid both fielded returns in 2017.
Lodi's non-conference schedule begins with a road game against Delavan-Darien/Williams Bay and a home game against Wisconsin Dells, reversing the venues from last year in the home-and-home series. The Blue Devils will then play Saint Viator, a playoff team in Illinois last year, in Week 3. Non-conference play wraps up with a home game against Westfield.
Capitol North play begins with the fourth straight home game for Lodi, against Luther Prep. Then, Lodi plays at Poynette and at Columbus to round out the month of September. October features home games against Lake Mills and Lakeside Lutheran, the other two playoff teams from the conference in 2017.
Game Audio: D4 Championship: Lodi 17, St. Croix Central 10 (OT)
Lodi Blue Devils - Capitol North
Head Coach: Dave Puls (15th Season), 124-36 Overall (22-13 Playoffs) - 2018 State Champions
2017 Result: 14-0 (5-0), 🏆1st in the Capitol North (🏆Won Division 4 State Championship over St. Croix Central, 17-10 in overtime)
Three-Year Record: 35-4 (10-2 Playoffs)
2017 All-Conference Honors: 11 First-Team, 2 Second-Team, 2 Honorable Mention (15 total)
Three-Year All-Conference Totals: 31 First-Team, 11 Second-Team, 5 Honorable Mention (47 total)
Returning All-Conference Players (2): LB/RB/K Austin Soehle (2nd Team-LB), Sr.; DB/WR Riley Faust (HM-DB), Sr.
Other Players To Watch: DB/WR Owen Jelinek, Sr.; FB/LB Ben Rashid, Sr.; FB/LB Kenan Cunningham, Sr.; LB/RB Alec Moen, Sr.; DB/WR/P Dylan Streeter, Sr.; OL/DL Gabe Pickarts, Sr.; DB/WR Kameron Nonn, Sr.; DB/RB/ST Colton Nicolay, Jr.; FB/LB Mason Ripp, Jr.; QB/DB Zach Potter, Jr.; LB/TE Logan Richards, Jr.; DL/TE Miguel Kearney, Jr.; LB/TE Dalton Patterson, Jr.; DE/WR Luke Beckwith, Jr.; DB/WR Jack Hansen, Jr.; DB/WR Ayden Bilse, Jr.; DL/TE Maxwell Rehlinger, Jr.; LB/FB Ben Simplot, Jr.; DB/WR Kade Parsons, Jr.; DB/WR Henre Jesse, Jr.; OL/DL Ryan Winters, Jr.; OL/DL Cameron Waterstradt, Jr.; K/WR/DB Ahren Schoeckert, Jr.
BIG Games: vs Saint Viator (IL), August 31; at Columbus, September 28; vs Lakeside Lutheran, October 12 (Homecoming)