Football

High school football: La Crosse Central motors along with Olson

High school football: La Crosse Central motors along with Olson

Little time elapsed between the moment Mitch Olson was named the Central High School football coach and the one he started his first practice as the leader of the program.

Olson was named the new coach of the RiverHawks on July 20, and Tuesday marked the first official practice he led for a program he’s been part of for six previous seasons.

“It’s a little bit more than practice planning and coaching while you are here now,” Olson said midway through Tuesday’s morning practice.

“That’s the fun stuff. I love the grind. I love preparing for practice.

“The administrative stuff has been different, but (previous coach) Tony Servais has been awesome and helped me out a lot in crossing the ‘t’s and dotting the ‘i’s.

Servais resigned after 10 seasons to become dean of students at Central. He stepped down because he couldn’t do both jobs simultaneously.

The time crunch, Olson said, hasn’t been an issue. Having the rest of the coaching staff back helps with some of that, and Olson seemed completely comfortable in leading the first practice for a team that had an exciting spring season with four wins in five games.

“We’re clearly focused on having enthusiasm in practice,” Olson said. “We want to be intense in what we are doing, and we want to be purposeful with what we’re doing.”

Olson was vocal and demonstrative as he took his players through a drill station. He made clear requests and encouraged each player running by him.

Olson was clearly ready for this.

“It’s been a good transition,” senior quarterback Mason Herlitzke said. “It’s weird not having (Servais) here, but I like Coach Olson a lot, and I think he’s the man for the job.”

Olson said only minor changes were made to the practice schedule, and one seemed to be going over very well while the team practiced. He allowed music to be played over the loud speakers.

“Yes, I’m rockin’ with the music,” senior defensive back Quinn Servais said. “I believe it’s (Olson’s) play list, but we’re having fun with this.”

There was a lot of fun to be had on the Central sideline during the abbreviated spring season. The RiverHawks used an exciting offensive performance led by a dynamic player in Herlitzke to dazzle spectators.

Central averaged more than 40 points per game in winning its first four games before finishing with a 20-10 loss at Logan in the Battle for the Ark. The defeat didn’t produce the desired ending to the season but also didn’t cancel out what was accomplished.

Herliztke, who passed for 803 yards and nine touchdowns and rushed for 647 yards and 11 scores, established himself as a playmaker.

Porter Pretasky, Jackson Warren and Servais gave him plenty of top-notch receiving weapons, and all three return to put pressure on opposing secondaries. In fact, just two of Herlitzke’s 57 completed passes in those five games were caught by seniors.

So expect the passing game to be ready, and a search for a little more balance with the run game as Central tries to win the MVC. Olson said to look for a new wrinkle or two, and Herlitzke added that more balance was in order as the team pieces together drives.

“We’re really looking to build,” Servais said. “Now we have a full conference schedule on the line, playoffs some new goals, and we’re ready.

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