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Veteran, talented lineup returns to lead Tigers to successful season

Shawn Klimek is counting on the Nevis 9-man football team to get off to another strong start and end with a strong finish.

Last season, the Tigers jumped out to a 5-0 start before going on a three-game losing streak to end the season. That resulted in Nevis being the No. 6 seed for the Section 6 9-man playoffs. The Tigers fell to No. 3 Underwood 52-28 in the first round of section play to end with a 5-4 record.

With a veteran cast returning, Klimek is confident the Tigers will be more consistent this fall.

The Tigers feature plenty of experience with the return of seven starters: seniors Collin Huckbody, Jake Keranen, Robbie Hine, Gerald Beckerleg, Aaron Halik and Taylor Chase; and sophomore Austin Becker. Huckbody, Hine and Beckerleg received Great Northern Conference honors last season.

Huckbody returns at quarterback after completing 79 of 173 passes for 1,478 yards and 13 touchdowns last season and rushing 139 times for 778 yards and 11 TDs for 68 points.

Beckerleg, who also scored 68 points, returns at tight end after catching 31 passes for 802 yards and 10 TDs.

Hine is back at running back after rushing 98 times for 706 yards and four TDs last season and catching 12 passes for 146 yards.

Becker rushed 12 times for 65 yards and a TD and had a 30-yard reception last season.

Chase returns at wide receiver after catching 22 passes for 263 yards and a pair of TDs.

Halik (at center) and Keranen (at guard) will lead the offensive line.

Looking to replace last year's senior crew of all-conference players Joe Bolling, Matt Gustafson and Matt Halik will be seniors Jordan Dudley and Kyle Bannor; junior Michael Babler; sophomores Courtland Chase, Gavin Becker and Gavin Hitchcock; and freshman Kiefer Miller.

Bannor and Babler will solidify the line with Gavin Becker (who caught three passes for 87 yards and a TD last season), Chase and Dudley providing depth at receiver. Hitchcock will see time at tailback after rushing 30 times for 195 yards and two TDs last season while Miller will be the back-up quarterback.

Providing depth offensively will be juniors Kyle Charmoli (guard), Jordan Feder (receiver) Skylar Huckbody (guard) and Michael Tranby (guard); sophomores Avery Mikael (tailback), Corey Sandlin (tight end), Tyler Plautz (guard), Victor Mastley (receiver), Spencer Stack (tailback) and Brandon Basswood (tackle); and freshmen Gunner Netteberg (tight end), Jordan Spenst (tailback), Dyllan Schroeder (receiver), Ethan Niedveicky (receiver), Hunter Darchuk (tailback), Landon Godwin (guard), Brian Scouton (guard), Riley Alwin (guard), Clayton Dewulf (receiver) and Sam Wiewel (tight end).

Returning to lead the defense are Hine, Huckbody and Hitchcock at linebacker and Halik, Charmoli, Keranen, Bannor, Dudley and Courtland Chase up front. Taylor Chase returns in the secondary.

Hine led the Tigers with 81 tackles last season, Huckbody had 77 tackles and three interceptions and Beckerleg had 66 tackles and three sacks. Also returning after playing key roles last season are Courtland Chase (35 tackles), Hitchcock (27 tackles), Halik (27 tackles), Taylor Chase (26 tackles), Charmoli (19 tackles), Keranen (17 tackles), Bannor (14 tackles) and Dudley (11 tackles).

Last year, the Tigers went 4-3 to finish fifth behind McGregor (6-1), Onamia (6-1), Isle (5-2) and Kelliher/Northome (5-3) in the conference standings while Ada-Borup defeated Ulen-Hitterdal in the section title game. Klimek is counting on the Tigers to improve on their conference record and get past the first round of the section playoffs this fall.

"Onamia, Kelliher/Northome, McGregor and Cromwell all look to be top contenders in the conference. Section 6 looks to be very competitive. Until someone beats Ada-Borup, they have to be the favorite," said Klimek, who will be assisted by Mike DeWulf, Matt Schmitt, Brian Dewitt and Mike Lien. "We are returning a good number of starters and we have a lot of new guys out that should help us down the stretch when they become accustomed to the game. We need to get out to a good start and we need to improve our line play. We need to play consistent football all season long and get better each week. If we can do this, we should be a very competitive team."