A new season always begins with new hope, and it should at the prep level because you never know how things may come together.

The Laramie Plainsmen are seeking a bounce-back year after missing the playoffs last year for the first time since 2012. Laramie won its opener a year ago but dropped their final eight games and finished 1-8.

Clint Reed begins his fourth year as head coach and admitted the way last season finished was tough.

“What you’ve got to do is just put it behind you and start preparing for the next season, and that’s what we did as soon as the last game was over (in 2019).”

What he likes is that this year’s Senior Class is in its fourth year with his staff.

“These were the kids that when I started were freshmen, so I’ve had them for four straight years. It’s been a good group, a good group of leaders. It’s a group of kids that have played together since pee wee football. We do have some new additions that joined that group and have bonded real well, but to see that group play together since they were young, to have them four years in our program, this will be the first time we’ve had someone all the way through.”

Two of those seniors are David Tangeman and Garrett Dodd. They were starters last year and are expected to play in key roles again this year. Tangeman as the specialist and on defense, while Dodd shifts to receiver and safety. They spoke to KOWB’s David Settle about preparing for the season, how fall camp went, some of their keys, and looked ahead to the first game after their last practice of fall camp last Saturday.

Reed is very happy about the numbers in the program for this season. With several additions at the freshman, sophomore, and senior grade levels, it’s been a nice boost.

“Our numbers are excitingly and surprisingly at the freshmen-sophomore level. A lot more than we thought and creating some nice competition there.”

The additions at the varsity level have been another bonus according to Reed. He said some were pre-COVID, some were conversations that started last summer but quite a few came for various reasons.

“You never know if they’re going to come or not. A lot of them showed up in June, and they’ve blended in very, very well with our nice Senior Class.”

The Plainsmen just wrapped up Fall Camp last Saturday with a small intra-squad scrimmage. So how did it go in terms of preparing them for a new season? Reed said very well.

“They understand what our expectations are. (They’re) setting some expectations for themselves. What they wanted to get (done), especially our seniors, out of their senior year. It’s been a very, very good fall camp. They’ve been preparing for a long time. With COVID, not really having spring sports and summer sports, they were just excited to be engaged again in something and football happened to be the next thing on the calendar.”

Reed said they tweaked their systems on both sides of the ball because of the type of personnel they have this year. Plus, Laramie returns their kicker and punter in Tangeman.

“We’ve got a guy that’s been with us for three years now, and he’s also picked up the punting duties, and he’s done an amazing job for us in the kicking game. That’s nice security.”

Defensively the base stayed the same but Reed said they’ve changed some other aspects.

“We’ve created a lot more rules and situations where our kids understand pre-snap what’s going on.”

He feels it’s ahead of where they’ve been the last few years.

Offensively, it’s more of the same because it’s based on personnel.

“We have a nice balance this year. We really do.”

Jake Vigen will be the starting quarterback this year. The junior played in most of the nine games last season.

The Plainsmen return 17 lettermen from last year. They will have six starters back on offense and four on defense, plus a specialist.

As for expectations, in a year where there are several teams with plenty of experience returning, Reed feels you can include his team in that mix.

“We don’t have a lot of starters coming back but because our Senior Class is strong, a lot of those juniors last year, which are seniors this year, contributed all over the field. In that sense, I’d say we were experienced too, whether they were starters or not, because they got a lot of playing time, especially with all the injuries and lack of numbers we had at the end, that last two or three weeks.”

He’s setting the bar extremely high.

“When you’ve worked with a class for four straight years and they understand what my expectation is, what my goals are, we’ve set those boundaries and those parameters, and they’ve met the challenge in every phase of it.”

Laramie will be tested right away. Their first four games are against teams that made the playoffs in 2019, and the opener is on the road at the defending state champion Sheridan Broncs. The kick-off on Friday is at 6 p.m.

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