By Dan Truttschel~Sports Correspondent

The success of football teams in the Southern Lakes Conference last year was well documented, as a trio tied for the title and one, Waterford, almost brought home a state title.

Those accomplishments haven’t gone unnoticed by others in the SLC – including Westosha Central, which hopes to begin on that same path in 2012.

The Falcons return a core of players who are hungry to erase the memories of a tough 2011 campaign that saw them finish with just two victories, seventh-year head coach Scott Mirkes said.

While it’s still early and the first game hasn’t been played, Mirkes feels that this group is on the right path.

“It’s been a pretty enjoyable first week and a half,” he said. “You never know what you have coming into the season, (but) we’ve been talking about, ‘If you want different results than what you had in the past, then you have to do some things differently.’

“We have a group of kids right now who are pretty committed to doing things differently. … It’s been a great group of kids to work with so far.”

Mirkes said the Falcons’ offense continues to grow, as they bring in several new faces to replace players who graduated a year ago.

One strength that has come to the front already is Central’s depth, Mirkes said, which definitely will help on both sides of the ball.

“There’s some numbers to build from and some pretty positive things going on,” he said.

Among the key returners for the Falcons is junior quarterback Tyler Stoxen, who already has a pair of varsity letters on his resume.

Having a veteran under center obviously is a good place to start, Mirkes said.

“It’s always nice to have a returning starter at quarterback,” he said. “It kind of settles your team to know who the guy is, work from there and not have a whole lot of question marks (at that position).”

Other returning letterwinners are seniors Luke Millhouse, Dom Trevino, Austin Gillmore, Kody Willkomm, Greg Springer, Cody Burns, Dustin Coleman, Grant Jahnke and Brandan Stepro; and juniors Zach Biehn, David Finnemore, Jesse Koenig, Austin Feeney and Kyle Ashmus.

That group and the players seeking their first varsity letter all will be counted on throughout the season, Mirkes said.

“We’re finding pieces,” he said. “We still have to get them out on the field on a Friday night and see what they can do. We’ll find out right away (in the opener this week at Big Foot). … But I like where we are.”

Looking at the SLC, Mirkes said he expects the race again to include last year’s tri-champions, Waterford, Badger and Wilmot. He added others could make noise as well, including Delavan-Darien and Burlington.

“It will be an interesting year,” Mirkes said. “I think every team has gotten better. They might be better in different ways this year, so it’s a little bit more of a crapshoot.

“Top to bottom, there might not be a better Division 2 conference in the state, except for maybe the Badger (Conference). It’s a competitive league night in, night out.”

The Falcons open 2012 with a tough non-conference contest at Big Foot Friday night. The Chiefs beat Central 49-21 in last year’s opener.

Following the opener, the Falcons begin SLC play next Friday, Aug. 31, when they host Union Grove at 7 p.m.



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