Throughout the week we’ve been previewing football leagues in our listening area. Today, we’ll continue with the teams from the Northern Plains League that play in the western districts.
All of our immediate area teams from the west in 8-Man DII are a part of District 5 later this season. The Osborne Bulldogs are the favorites in that group. Osborne has experience in some key places, but only 14 players are out this year, so depth could be an issue. The Bulldogs also have a new head coach in Brandon Wise, who spent last season as an assistant under Cullen Riner. Riner will now be Wise’s assistant in 2018. Six starters return on offense and four on defense. They lost RB Denton Schurr who ran for over 1,300 yards last season, but QB Darnell Holloway, RB Darrien Holloway and TE Kade Miller are all back. Darnell is a solid dual threat QB, as he ran for 808 yards and 14 TD last season and threw for another 783 and 12 scores. Darrien registered 840 yards and 15 TD rushing. While Miller helps the Bulldogs on offense at end, he has been a ball hawk on defense with 13 career interceptions. He is also the top returning tackler after making 59 tackles with 12 for loss. In heading into Friday’s season opener, Coach Wise likes where his team is at.
Osborne will face Hill City at home Friday night to open the season.
Also in DII District 5, the Thunder Ridge Longhorns have a new coach in Joel Struckhoff. Struckhoff had a well-documented outstanding career as a player for the Longhorns, setting records that still stand for the most rushing yards (6,919), total touchdowns (127) and points scored (856). In 2011 in his senior year, the Longhorns were the 8-Man DII State Champions and now he hopes to lead his alma mater to more wins as a coach. Thunder Ridge went just 2-7 last season, but in the middle of it, snapped a 19-game losing streak. This season, they bring back seven starters on each side, and Struckhoff is glad he has that experience.
Thunder Ridge opens their season on Friday night against Lakeside. Fans can hear that game on KD Country 94 with pregame coverage beginning at 6:30.
Also in DII District 5, the Sylvan-Lucas Mustangs hope to make some noise. After an 8-2 finish last year, the Mustangs will need to replace talented skill players in QB RJ Haberer, RB Owen Krueger and TE Dylan Streit who all graduated. In all, there are four starters back on offense and three on defense for Ben Labertew’s squad. He gave his thoughts on this year’s group.
The Mustangs begin their season Friday night against Chase in Sylvan Grove. The Kats will compete in 8-Man DII District 8 this year. Chase went 2-7 last year, but they do return experience in their backfield in QB Lance Hinderliter, RB Tylon Ybarra and FB Dylan Miller for new head coach Brent Schneider who was a one time head coach at Ellsworth.
Wilson is the only other team in 8-Man DII in District 5. Tony Brokes enters his 20th year as the head coach for the Dragons and hopes his team can improve on a 1-8 finish a season ago.
The final team from the NPL on the west side is Lincoln, as they compete in 8-Man DI District 7. The Leopards went just 1-8 last season, but are hoping new head coach Dustin Patee can get the team going back in the right direction. Patee is an Osborne native and a former St. John’s/Tipton assistant. He spent two seasons at each Logan/Palco and Canton-Galva as a head coach. Lincoln returns starting QB Drew Biggs and OL Logan Sneath as their senior leaders and Tyler Good and Zach Obermueller are other skill players that are back. In all, there are five starters back on offense and four on defense. Patee explains one of his focuses for his group in 2018.
Lincoln opens their season at Tescott on Friday night.