Prep football: Hurley, Grantsburg, Unity expected to shine in Lakeland Conference

Aug. 17—Teams like Hurley, Grantsburg and Unity are perennial football favorites in the Lakeland Conference, and that likely won't change this season.

Hurley is the defending champion after posting a 7-0 mark in the league last year. The Northstars were 13-1 overall and reached the state quarterfinals in Division 7. They graduated some key pieces, like the conference's offensive and defensive players of the year, but have multiple all-conference players returning.

One reason why Grantsburg maybe close to the top of this year's Lakeland conference once more is because, as one coach observed, "it's annually a strong program and the coach does a great job of maintaining an outstanding program." The Pirates finished 2021 with a 5-2 record in conference. Grantsburg, an annual regional powerhouse, finished 2021 with a Level 2 playoff loss to Unity.

The same coach observed of Unity that the team is, "a big, strong team that should cause issues." The Eagles ended last season 6-1 in the Lakeland, and wrapped up the season in November with a Level 3 playoff loss at Durand. Plenty of all-conference talent is back this year.

Ladysmith coach Kirk Yudes says 2022, "should be an improved year for our squad. We have low numbers in our juniors and seniors, but they are an athletic group that should help mentor and lead an athletic group of sophomores who will contribute to our young team."

The Lumberjacks finished sixth in last year's Lakeland conference with a 0-6 record, and went 0 — 9 overall. The last time Ladysmith earned a conference title was in 2007.

Logan Alberson led the Lumberjacks with 820 passing yards in 2021. Grant Hydlund led in rushing with 216, and Clayton Roscoe was second on the team with 127 rushing yards.

Webster made the playoffs out of the Lakeland last season and finished 6-5 overall. Rib Lake/Prentice went 3-7.