By BURT ANGELI
NIAGARA, Wis. - Northern Elite Predators will be tested early in the 2013 high school football season.
The Predators open the season tonight, taking on Coleman of the M&O Conference at 6 p.m. at Ropele Field. The schedule remains difficult with a trip to Norway next week.
"The big question is how aggressive are they, how confident are they," said second-year Predators head coach Ben Laarman. "I like the talent we have. I like our starting lineups.
"It's just a matter if they're going to go out and perform, and rise to the challenge of playing tough, physical teams like Coleman and Norway."
Northern Elite has been emphasizing an aggressive, attacking style in practice.
"We're not going to be able to flip a switch in the game," Laarman said. "They have to practice that way. We've seen flashes of it.
"They really have to learn to practice that way consistently. If they do that they will rise to the challenge when game time comes."
Laarman calls it a "matter of confident determination."
"You talk about being the hammer every play," Laarman said. "That's what they have to do. If they do, they have a chance for a good season."
While quarterback Joey Swanson accounted for 21 touchdowns to lead the Predators last season, the Cougars (6-3 overall, 4-3 M&O in 2012) will turn to fullback Dexter Karban (1,099 yards rushing, 9 TD) and quarterback Trevor Seewald (255 yards passing, 5 TD; 434 rushing, 14 TD).
Florence, citing a lack of players, cancelled tonight's season opener at Hurley. The Bobcats will host North Dickinson next Friday.