After only a week of practice, Jeff Wright is ready to make a bold proclamation.

The first-year coach, who served as an assistant last season, believes he’s been blessed with as good a set of four captains he could ask for. Well, that any coach could ask for.

“I believe I have the best four captains in the state from a leadership perspective,” Wright said. “On and off the field I’ve been blown away and we just started (last) week.”

Those four are seniors Dawson Foster, Dan Nelson and Logan Bornick, along with junior Cristoph Tisdale, and have convinced Wright the script of the 2019 season will invert what transpired in 2018, when the Raiders struggled to only three wins.

With only a handful of seniors lost from that squad, and the amount of varsity experience returning, Wright said Northfield is in a position this year to leap up in both the Big 9 Conference and Section 1.

“With those four, those are our focal points, and then we have a lot of great players around them,” Wright said. “I have a brand-new staff this year and one of the things they talk about is how athletic our team is. If everything goes as planned, we should have a much better run than we did last year.”

Devon Jirik, who captained the hockey team this winter, has decided to join the lacrosse team at the urging of those captains after he played the sport through middle school.

They’ve also convinced Mason Zick, who captained football and basketball teams this year, and Luke LaPanta to swap baseball gloves for lacrosse sticks this spring.

“Those guys are newer additions to our roster, and we’re hoping to get them in the mix early and often and use their athletic ability,” Wright said.

Those reinforcements couple with the returners from last year who played junior varsity or sometimes contributed to the varsity squad to provide the Raiders with a deep roster and more talent than last year.

That was the primary pitfall last year, the focus on a couple players who weren’t able to power past some of the tougher teams on the schedule all on their own.

“One of our focuses this year is playing as a team,” Wright said. “We didn’t have that sense of unity last year, and just four days in I believe we’re light years ahead of where we were last year. Our guys are embracing one another, and that will continue to be a thing we focus on. We can’t play our best on the field if we’re not truly a team and we’re not clicking on all cylinders.”

First game: 4:30 p.m. April 13 vs. Duluth Denfield at the Dundas Dome

Last year’s record: 3-10

Last year’s finish: Lost in the Section 1 quarterfinals 15-11 to Lakeville South.

Major departures

Brandon Foster

Ben Lucas

Skyler Parsons

Key returners

Zach Anderson, senior, midfield

Gabe Baggot, senior, attack

Logan Bornick, senior, defense

Tyler Cemenski, senior, midfield

Matthew DeBuse, freshman, midfield

Dawson Foster, senior, attack/midfield

Zach Marvin, senior, midfield

Dan Nelson, senior, defense

Nick Orosco, sophomore, attack

Brady Mingo, junior, defense

Paul Neumann, junior, attack

Cristoph Tisdale, junior, goalie

Emerson Herbig, freshman, midfield

Spencer Klotz, freshman, midfield

Important newcomers

Devon Jirik, senior, defense

Luke LaPanta, senior, midfield

Brian O’Meara, senior, defense

Trevor Shimota, senior, midfield

Mason Zick, senior, midfield

Reach Sports Editor Michael Hughes at 645-1106. Follow him on Twitter @NFNSports.

©Copyright 2019 APG Media of Southern Minnesota. All rights reserved.

Sports Editor for the Northfield News. Also a California native looking for tips on surviving the winter and an Indiana University grad on the quest for a good breaded pork tenderloin.

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