By David Stenklyft

November 15, 2018

Wausau– Hope springs eternal at the start of every high school sports season with teams looking forward to repeating success or improving on a difficult season where wins were few and far between.

After winning just two games last year, it might prove difficult to be optimistic, but don’t tell that to the coaches and players at Wausau East.

“We’re going to be better, that’s for sure,” said head coach Paul Dimka. “We look to last year as a developmental season, a lot of kids played and we now can go 9-10 players deep this year.”

The Lumberjacks will rely on seven seniors and 11 returning players to make a statement in a conference that has opened up with several teams ready to contend.

“I think Merrill and Everest will be the favorites, but anybody could make a run towards the top, and I think we could be a factor as the year goes on,” said Dimka.

East will rely on leaders like seniors Trey Buchberger, Jack Kane and Ryan LaCerte and junior Gabe Krueger to lead the squad into play.

Buchberger is excited about the chance to make amends for last year’s season and likes this year’s squad.

“I can’t wait for us to prove that last season is behind us and we are ready to move forward. I like our team and we are really close, we all pull for each other,” he said.  

Dimka has shifted his coaching focus a bit this year, stressing fundamentals.

“We may have overplayed the values of wins and undervalued the importance of fundamentals. If a player is going to get minutes this year, he’ll need to be fundamentally strong and also have a really good grasp of our system.”

Dimka sees hosting an early season tournament on November 23 as an opportunity to get better with a couple games in two days.

“It’s always nice to get two games in town, in a quality tournament to get the season going,”said Dimka.

It also is a chance for Dimka to coach against his alma mater, with Port Edwards joining the fray this year.

“I’ve tried to get them into the tournament, but this is the first time we were able to do so. I have so much respect for them and their terrific head coach Gibbs.”   

East opens up the season on November 19 at Stevens Point Pacelli.