The Pequot Lakes football team has 20 letterwinners from a squad that finished 2-6 in the Heart ‘O Lakes North Conference and 2-7 overall.
Letterwinners from last season include seniors Bradley Boldt, Tyler Tappe, Lance Squires, Cole Funk, Justin Mackenthun, Travis Jacobson, Chris Westman, Keegan Johnson and Cadel Roeder; juniors Joel Ebnet, Sabastian Elsenpeter, Connor Davich, Shae Zeidler, Alex Tangen, Karl Satterlund, Zach Trottier, Brody Box, Angelo Tweed and Kyle Sellner; and sophomore CJ Borleis.
Tappe, Jacobson, Westman, Mackenthun and Elsenpeter each received All-Mid-State Conference honorable mention last year.
Tappe led the Patriots in rushing with 818 yards and six touchdowns while Jacobson had a team-high 23 receptions for 356 yards.
Top returning tacklers on defense are Elsenpeter (63 total tackles), Mackenthun (62) and Westman (46).
"We were really young last year, but the kids can really mature a lot in one year," said Pequot Lakes defensive coordinator Nick Grunzke said. "We started a lot of sophomores last year, and they're one year older now. So the speed of practices has changed a lot."
The Patriots have eight players returning on defense and seven on offense. Non-letterwinners hoping to contribute are seniors Jake and Josh Marty, Beau Nelson and Ozzie Miller; juniors Eric Elverum, Dillon Nichols, Caleb Bermel, Brandon Wilcox, Del Ryan, Jon Bocklund, Jeremiah Dischinger, Tristan Jurek, Jared Hutchinson and Dustin Northernscold; and sophomore Chad Christianson.
Assistant coaches are Nick Grunzke, Alex Kunesh, Nate Novak, Sean Naples, Gary Wolf and volunteers Pat Ebnet, Chuck Lane and Jim Urseth.
Last fall, the Patriots lost to Thief River Falls 21-20 in the Section 8AAA playoffs.
Grunzke said that Detroit Lakes and Perham are some of the top teams that Pequot Lakes will face this season.
"Detroit Lakes is definitely one of the favorites this year," he said. "And I think (Section 8AAA) has a real open field."