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Prep football: MLWR Rebels look familiar

Moose Lake-Willow River football coach Dave Louzek doesn't know why, but he says for much of the fall something was glaringly amiss at practice.

The Rebels weren't having enough fun.

So as they prepared to hit the field for a tune-up a day before facing Barnum in the Section 7AA semifinals, just as the Northland was shoveling out from its first winter storm of the season, Louzek made clear his expectations. He wanted to see snowballs flying through the air.

MLWR has been having fun ever since.

"They've looked like the Rebel teams of old," Louzek said. "They don't ever want to leave the locker room. They don't ever want to stop practicing."

Returning to the state tournament will do that to a squad.

MLWR opposes West Central Area in a Class AA quarterfinal Friday in Brainerd. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. The Knights boast a pass-first offense, but that could prove problematic if the forecast holds and the game-time temp is hovering around 20 degrees.

The Rebels ended a one-year state absence by defeating Royalton 29-15 in the section final last week. Louzek calls it a "complete 180." That's because MLWR looked headed for another early offseason as it limped into an Oct. 18 game against Aitkin on a four-game skid. The Rebels won that one 27-6, as well as the next three.

Louzek's 12th time guiding MLWR to state has been a roller coaster.

"This one definitely has a special spot because I don't think anyone who follows Rebel football expected us to be in this position," he said.

It sure beats fiddling around the house after school this time of year, which was what Louzek and the Rebels were forced to do last fall when their string of 10 consecutive section crowns ended.

"There's nowhere else I'd rather be right now," Louzek said.