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Ironman Fridays highlight offseason

Badger football itching to improve after excellent 2009 campaign, 9-3 mark

THAT TIME OF YEAR Badger will continue its workout regime until the first practice August 10. The boys open up the season at home against Mukwonago August 27. Check future editions of the Regional News for more pictures and stories from the area's three football squads.
July 21, 2010 | 08:31 AM
Last fall, the Badger football squad had one of its most successful seasons in school history — a 9-3 record and qualifying for the third level of the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association playoffs.

But the success was the culmination of something more than just football. The season didn't start with the first game. It started in June as soon as school was out. The football players were in the weight room three times a week, sometimes more, to prepare for their magical run.

This year, there is even more dedication. Coach Matt Hensler has seen many more players in the weight room on a consistent basis since June, and the players are excited to build upon last season's winning foundation.

"There are at least 20 more guys showing up every day this year," senior running back/receiver/linebacker Mike McBride said. "I'm surprised that there are so many guys. It's going to take a lot more hard work to win in the tough Southern Lakes Conference. Guys are buying into the program."

Senior lineman Brad Nugent sees a deeper commitment from his teammates.

"It's all about the team," he said. "Everyone is hitting the weight room hard. It's really fun. If you get better, the team gets better."

And the offseason workouts aren't all grind and no fun. Each Friday, the team has an "Ironman Friday," where players train in the form of a "World's Strongest Man" competition, where they are pushing over gigantic tires, running with heavy weights and pushing carts with people on them down the field in a race.

It's the second year for Ironman Fridays, and it helps the team build a deep bond.

"Chemistry is so underrated," said senior quarterback and safety Max Fanning. "We believe in each other. We are all smart and we play together. We may not all be great athletes, but we're good football players."

McBride added the chemistry is so strong because the seniors have been playing football together for the last 10 years.

Sometimes, it takes tough love. Nugent said the players get on each other about showing up for lifting.

"Sometimes I have to call a guy if he's late," he said. "If we have to show force to get him in the weight room, we must do it."

McBride tried his hand at swimming and track this past year to improve athletically.

"I've become faster because of track," he said.

A team that lost four starting offensive lineman must reload quickly if it wants to maintain last year's machine-like running game. In 2009, Badger averaged 296 yards per game on the ground, good for tops in the SLC, 40 yards more than second-place Union Grove.

In order to maintain that attack, the new linemen must fill some pretty big shoes. Nugent will start at center, and he is excited to play on the line with seniors Mario Blanquel and Gus Arellano. Nugent also mentioned T.J. Bakken as a player who has improved.

"They didn't see the field last year," Nugent said. "But they have really worked hard. They are always working, and they will help us this year."

The secondary also lost all-conference performers Alex Cook and Jarek Kunz. Fanning and Nugent know the team can improve upon last year.

"We never really reached our maximum potential last year," Fanning said. "We must carry over our intensity in the weight room on to the field, and we have to give 110 percent at all times."

Nugent hopes the team can play more complete games this season.

"It's a new year with new goals," he said. "We have to make less mistakes. Also, last year we started slow in games then turned it on in the second half. Championship teams play great in the first half and great in the second half."

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