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 in 8-Man DI and the teams from the western half of 8-Man DII.
Heading up our area teams from the NPL in 8-Man DI is Osborne. The Bulldogs were the state champions in the division in 2016, going 13-0 and beating St. Francis for the title. The Bulldogs did lose eight seniors from that team, including Cullen Grabast, who ran for over 1,600 yards and 32 TD and had over 6,000 AP yards in his career. Also gone is Derek Naegele, who was the leading tackler for the Bulldogs with 96 stops last year. The cupboard is not bare, though, as Osborne actually returns their leading rusher from last season, Denton Schurr, who racked up 1,788 yards and 31 TD rushing. Darrien Holloway is also back after running for 17 TD’s and his brother Darnell will take over the QB position left vacant by the graduation of Justin Burch. The top returners on defense for the Bulldogs are Roxton Brown, who was the second leading tackler last season with 78, and Kade Miller, who returns after making 76 tackles and a team high nine interceptions. Osborne looks to be a talented group again this season, and their head coach Cullen Riner says that they have done a great job of picking up where they left off in practices.
Osborne will open their season on Friday night at Thunder Ridge.
The only other area team in 8-Man DI from the NPL is Lincoln. The Leopards will compete in 8-Man DI District 4 along with Osborne later this season. Lincoln brings back six starters on both sides of the ball in Don Long’s second year as the head coach. Lincoln returns their QB from a season ago, Drew Biggs, who Coach Long is hoping can help lead the Leopards to much more success in 2017 after they went just 1-8 last year. Long says his team will be leaning on their experience this season.
Lincoln opens their season at Tescott on Friday night. The Trojans were the lone team the Leopards beat a season ago.
Most of our area teams will be competing in the 8-Man DII ranks. On the west side of 8-Man DII three teams from the NPL will compete in District 5 later this season.
The Lakeside Knights made the playoffs as the District 5 runner-up last season. After starting the season 0-4, they won their first three district games, which was good enough to get to the playoffs, but they would lose to eventual state runner-up Dighton in the 1st round. Gone from that team are two top offensive threats in QB Dawson Johnson and 8-Man All-Star TE Austin Stroede. Johnson threw for over 1,500 yards and 23 TD, while Stroede was his favorite target with 712 yards and 13 TD receiving. Lakeside will rely on their three seniors this season, Drew Cunningham, Peyton Johnson and Nicholas Schmitt. Johnson had over 600 yards and eight TD receiving last season and Cunningham, despite missing the final two games, led the team with 115 tackles on defense. Knights coach Drew Duskie on his senior leaders.
Lakeside opens the season Friday night against 8-Man DII #2 ranked Pike Valley in Downs. That game can be heard on KD Country 94 and kdcountry94.com with pregame coverage beginning at 6:30.
Also in DII District 5, the Sylvan-Lucas Mustangs are looking to make a move and fight for a playoff spot. Last year, the Mustangs went 6-3, and they have seven starters back on both sides of the ball, plus they gained Lincoln transfer Owen Krueger, who started for the Leopards. R.J. Haberer returns for his third season as the starting QB for the Mustangs, and their head coach Ben Labertew is excited to have all the experience returning.
Sylvan-Lucas will start their season Friday night at Southern Cloud.
The final team from our area in the western part of DII from the NPL is Thunder Ridge. The Longhorns have struggled over the past two seasons, going just 1-16, which included an 0-9 finish last year. A very young group the past two seasons hopes that their experience will turn into wins in Otis Hendryx’s 3rd year as the head coach. He commented on how his team worked to improve this year.
As stated earlier, the Longhorns will open their season Friday night at home against Osborne.
The Wilson Dragons also compete in 8-Man DII District 5. They will need to replace many key players, including QB Trey Fink who they lost to graduation. Tony Brokes’ enters his 19th season as the head coach for Wilson. Last season, Wilson was 5-4. They open their season at Rock Hills Friday night.
The only other team from the NPL in the western side of DII is Chase. The Kats are coming off of a 6-5 finish last year, where, like Lakeside, they lost to eventual state runner-up Dighton. Skill players WR Justin Oberle and TB Kebren Julian both graduated, and they have a new head coach in Travis Tesone. Tesone takes over for John Wellman, who went 40-19 in five seasons. The Kats will open the 2017 season against St. John’s/Tipton in Tipton on Friday night.