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Expectations high for Laurel after again joining Big 7

| Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012, 6:50 p.m.

Laurel may keep changing classifications, but at least the Spartans are familiar with their latest landing spot.

Two seasons after jumping to Class AA, Laurel finds itself back in the Big 7 Conference — its former home — as a result of the WPIAL's realignment.

“It's just a learning thing all over again when you go into a new conference,” coach Jerry Holzhauser said. “You learn from good scouting. The reputations of those schools are there already, so we know there'll be good, tough football players and good coaching.”

In 2009, Laurel's last season in the Big 7, the Spartans finished in second and advanced to the WPIAL semifinals.

To duplicate that feat, Laurel will have to replace the production of running back Dylan Jones, who had 1,176 yards and 13 touchdowns last season, when the Spartans finished tied for fifth in Class AA's Midwestern Conference.

Laurel will lean on an experienced offensive line to help whoever steps into that void, Holzhauser said.

“It's hard to replace Dylan — he set all the school records at running back, and he was just an exceptional player for us,” Holzhauser said. “We know we're not going to replace him, but hopefully some kids will step up.”

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