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CHASKA, Minn. – Despite a mid-summer "shocker," the Chaska Hawks appear ready to defend their impressive 2013 campaign.

"The news was pretty surprising," admits senior quarterback Justin Arnold.

In June, Chaska head coach Lambert Brown told the team he would not return for a fifth season because he had accepted the athletic director position at Maple Grove High School.

"We were disappointed and we didn't want him to leave," said Arnold. "But we had to move on."

Brown led the Hawks to the state tournament last season, their first trip in more than 30 years. Chaska went 11-1, their only loss was to Brainerd in the state semifinal game.

The hope is to continue to build on that success says interim coach Bryan Dahl.

"When he (Brown) told me he was leaving I was very interested in taking over as coach," said Dahl, the team's defensive coordinator last year. "And our goals remain the same."

Those goals include returning to the state tournament.

"We have high expectations," says Dahl. "Our kids are hungry."

Chaska will enter 2014 inexperienced on defense, but they do return Arnold, their starting quarterback.

"We have some skilled guys coming back, too," he says. "We have guys who love the game and will outwork anyone which is great."

Chaska opens the season against Forest Lake on August 28.

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