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Rage open season Saturday at La Crosse

The Northern Elite Football League gets into full swing this weekend with a full state of games. The league's official kickoff is at 7 p.m. today when the Eau Claire Crush and Menomonie Thunderhawks do battle at Carson Park in Eau Claire.

The Northern Elite Football League gets into full swing this weekend with a full state of games. The league's official kickoff is at 7 p.m. today when the Eau Claire Crush and Menomonie Thunderhawks do battle at Carson Park in Eau Claire.

The Lake Superior Rage, who are beginning their second season in the NEFL, open against the River City Rough Riders at 7 p.m. Saturday at UW-La Crosse.

The Rage, who just missed the playoffs last year with a 5-3 record, bolstered the highest scoring offense in the NEFL in 2011, and look to continue that dominance in 2012. The Rage return seven offensive starters from the 2011 group, that included Ryan DeZurik (WR), Hollis Dukes (RB/WR), Dave White (QB), and four starting offensive linemen.

New players hoping to make an impact with the Rage this year include Chris Henigan (RB), Dre Scherill (WR) and Shannon Larson (OL).

The defense in 2012 has a new twist to it with the addition of a new head coach and defensive coordinator Mike Williams. The Rage look to use their depth at linebacker to give opposing teams multiple looks, and with a large number of new players, look for the Rage to be very fast and hard hitting in the front seven.

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The defense returns seven major contributors from last year's team that held the 2011 NEFL champions to just nine points in the final regular season conference game.

With the 2012 NEFL realignment, the Rage have been moved into the Central Division with the Chippewa Valley Predators, Eau Claire Crush and the Menomonie Thunderhawks.

Each team will play a home-and-home against the other three teams in its division, plus two randomly-drawn non-division games against other league opponents. Teams in the NEFL play mostly at college or high school fields, with the exception being the Minnesota Dragons, who will play their home games in the Metrodome in Minneapolis, home of the NFL's Minnesota Vikings.

Other schedule highlights include:

* A match-up between teams with a combined 11 all-time league titles on May 19 when the St. Paul Pioneers host the Rochester Giants.

* The debut of the Metrodome as a home venue for the Minnesota Dragons on May 26 against the River City Rough Riders.

* Two contests between former NEFL champions, the Chippewa Valley Predators and Lake Superior Rage, on June 2 and June 16.

* The "Trophy Game" between Twin Cities rivals St. Paul and Minnesota, who split three contests last season (including one tie), on June 9 and June 23

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* And three NEFL championship rematches: Eau Claire Crush/Lake Superior (June 9 and July 7), who met in Elite Bowl I (2008), and Chippewa Valley/ Fox Valley Force (May 19), who met in Elite Bowl II (2009).

NOTES: More information on the NEFL may be found online at www.NorthernEliteFootball.com . ... The Rage will play their home games at Duluth's Public School Stadium. ... Lake Superior's first home game is at 4 p.m. on June 2 against the Chippewa Valley Predators.

Northern Elite Football League

Central Division

Lake Superior Rage, Chippewa Valley Predators, Eau Claire Crush and the Menomonie Thunderhawks

East Division

Fox Valley Force, Green Bay Gladiators, Kimberly Storm, Central Wis. Spartans

West Division

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St. Paul Pioneers, Minnesota Dragons, River City Rough Riders, Rochester Giants.

Lake Superior Rage

2012 Schedule

May 12 at Rough Riders, 7 p.m. (UWLC)

May 19 at T-Hawks, 6 p.m. (UW-Stout)

June 2 vs. Predators, 4 p.m. (Duluth PSS)

June 9 vs. Crush, 4 p.m. (PSS)

June 16 at Predators, 6 p.m. (Carson Park)

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June 30 vs. Giants, 4 p.m. (PSS)

July 7 at Crush, 6 p.m. (Carson Park)

June 14 vs. Thunderhawks, 4 p.m. (PSS)

Saturday, May 5

St. Paul Pioneers 46, Minn. Sting (Midwest Premiere) 0

Kimberly Storm 27, Upper Peninsula Arctic Blast (Northern Lights) 0

Fox Valley Force 23, Southern Lakes Blue Devils (Ironman) 0

Eau Claire Crush 13, River City Rough Riders 6

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Friday, May 11

Thunderhawks at Crush, 7 p.m. (Eau Claire)

Saturday, May 12

Rage at Roughriders, 7 p.m. (UWLC)

Pioneers at Spartans, TBD (DCE)

Gladiators at Storm, 4 p.m. (Papermaker Stadium)

Dragons at Force, 4 p.m. (Lawrence U.)

Saturday, May 19

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Rage at Thunderhawks, 6 p.m. (UW-Stout)

Storm at Spartans, TBD (DCE)

Crush at Gladiators, 4 p.m. (Bayview Middle School)

Force at Predators, 6 p.m. (Carson Park)

Giants at Pioneers, 5 p.m. (Condordia)

Lake Superior Rage

2012 Football Roster

1. Tony Murray DB

2. Antavius Thomas DB

3. Ben Rautio LB

4. Ray Moore WR

5. David White QB

6. Hood McMillan LB

7. Keldric Stokes QB

8. Spencer Cowins DB

9. Andy Dahl TE

10. Ryan DeZurik WR

11. Hollis Dukes WR

12. Chris Henagin RB

13. Ryan Rodriguez K/P

17. DeAndre Sherrill WR

20. Anthony McLean RB

22. Zakh Visina WR

23. Addison Griffin DB

25. Tyler Houghton WR/K

27. Mike Williams LB

33. Justin Phipps DB

36. Gavin Robinson LB

42. James Olson FB

51. Andy McKinnon OL

53. Anthony Stewart LB

55. Adam Anderson OL

57. Bobby Brungardt LB

58. Aaron Tody DL/LB

59. Zak Stano LB

67. Jimmy Johnson OL

68. Jordan Monson DL

70. Isiah Johnson DL

71. Shannon Larson OL

75. Lucas Bratland OL

76. Benny Peterson DL

77. Charles Fields OL

78. Ken Torpen OL

79. Korey Jazdzewski OL

88. Kevin Holm TE

99. Billy O'Connell DL

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