Heading into this season, the Cedarburg football team does not have a high number of all-North Shore Conference players.
That situation, however, is not new to head coach Brian Leair and his staff.
"We lost a lot of good players," Leair said, "but we still have some good kids who worked hard in the offseason. This is the same as last year, when we didn't have many All Conference kids back, but things worked out. I am optimistic we will have a good team."
The quarterback is senior Jack Meyer (6-foot, 180 pounds), who Leair said plays a good all-around game.
"He is a good runner and passer as well as a good leader," the coach said. "He has good mobility, which we will certainly use."
Senior running back Alex Valdes (5-8, 165) returns after putting together a couple of 100-yard games before going down with a shoulder injury last season.
Also in the offensive backfield will be senior Patrick Hoffman (6-0, 170), who started at defensive back and saw some time at running back last year.
"He is our most explosive player," Leair said. "He is capable of some long touchdowns."
Senior Clayton Van Tassel (5-11, 165) will be versatile in the backfield, playing some wing, some running back and some receiver.
"He is a competitor and will be a real weapon for us," Leair said.
Also receiving will be a pair of senior tight ends, Alex Kluck (6-4, 200), who earned honorable-mention all-conference, and Joel Durham (6-6, 215).
The offensive line will be spearheaded by junior right tackle Jason Miller (5-11, 245), who was second-team All Conference. Also in the line are senior guard Nick Krueger (6-0, 175) and senior center Adam Mortenson (6-0, 265).
Durham will also play on the defensive line, along with senior Chris Uselding (6-2, 210) and junior Keagan McCarthy (5-11, 195).
At linebacker will be senior Mitchell Abitz, who is playing for the first time since his freshman year; senior Noah Malek (6-1, 160) and sophomore Ryan Hoffman. Van Tassel and senior Mitchell Stroebel (6-1, 165) will man the secondary.
"I like the leadership of our seniors," Leair said. "This is a good group with motivated kids who are excited about being on the team. They have worked hard and they have a lot invested into the season."
Cedarburg will compete in another rugged North Shore Conference, with Homestead, Germantown and Whitefish Bay all strong.
"Port is also intriguing," Leair said. "This conference will not have any easy games. You have the usual teams and some others who are on the verge of winning."
The Bulldogs open at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 19, at Hartford, a team Cedarburg beat, 28-10, last season.
Players to watch: Senior running backs Alex Valdes and Patrick Hoffman. Valdes can hit the 100-yard rushing mark, and Hoffman is a big-play runner, coach Brian Leair said.
Keep an eye on: The offensive line, keyed by second-team all-conference choice Jason Miller, which will be opening the holes for Valdes, Hoffman and others.
We say: The Bulldogs are always in the race in the North Shore, and this year should be no different. The players are motivated by keeping the winning tradition going.
First team: None
Second team: Jason Miller (OL)
Honorable mention: Alex Kluck (TE), Clayton Van Tassel (RB)
First-team losses: Alex Bothe (OL)
Coach: Brian Leair
Outcome: Lost in Level 2 to Homestead, 29-6
Last year (home in bold)
Hartford W 28-10
Sussex Hamilton W 20-13
Whitefish Bay L 34-14
Milwaukee Lutheran W 28-10
Port Washington W 21-14
Nicolet W 42-6
Germantown W 24-7
Grafton W 20-13
Homestead L 35-0
Slinger W 8-0
Homestead L 29-6
Aug. 19 Hartford
Aug. 26 Sussex Hamilton
Sept. 2 Whitefish Bay
Sept. 9 Milwaukee Lutheran
Sept. 16 Port Washington
Sept. 23 Nicolet
Sept. 30 Germantown
Oct. 7 Grafton
Oct. 14 Homestead