The countdown to the opening Highlight Zone of the 2016 football season is just two weeks away. We begin our two-a-day team previews with the defending WIAA state champion from our area. The Bangor Cardinals are coming off a season that town will always remember. 14-and-oh. and a state title. But a lot of big names have graduated. Andrew Piske, Kellen Kravik, and Jack Reader to name a few. The message from head coach Rick Muellenberg to his team… Forget about last year. this is a new season and a new team. I’m excited because it’s a new season. As proud as we are of last year, I’m excited that we finally got going this year again and I told our guys that we need to form our own identity and play football as the 2016 Cardinals and not worry about what 2015 did. There’s nothing really to live up to except our own expectations. Everyone wants to beat us when it comes down to it because we won a state championship. But it’s a new year. We’ve got to come out here and play our game. Rome wasn’t built in a day. And Sparta understands getting the program back into the top-half of the MVC standings and back into the playoffs is a slow and steady process. They picked up a pair of conference wins a year ago. So far in camp head coach John Blaha likes the energy and excitement along with the competition with 90 kids out for football this season. We’ve got a pretty good senior class, about 22 kids out right now seniors and they’re doing a pretty good job of leading. We talk about what we need to do to get to that next level instead of that one or two wins a year. How do we take that next step and it has to be their leadership and their energy. Trying to make sure before we step foot on our field each day we have a focus session and what our objectives are. They’re really trying to push everyone and they are doing a good job of that. I think it’s going to be fun to look back and see how much we’ve grown from sophomores and freshmen to what we have grown into now. The first Friday night under the lights 14 days away. The News 8 Highlight Zone High School Football Preview Show airing in just nine days. Sunday, August 14 at p-m. Loggers snap a two-game skid beating Mankato 3-2. Jacob Huebsch pitches six shutout innings as Viroqua Legion baseball stays alive at the Central Plains Regional. winning seven-nothing. They’ll play again tomorrow at ten a-m.