Tigers ready to keep momentum building after historic season
It's going to be difficult for the Nevis football team to duplicate last year's historic season.
However, head coach Shawn Klimek is optimistic the Tigers can produce another winning season and contend for the Section 6 9-man title again this fall.
Klimek faces the daunting dilemma of replacing eight senior starters, led by all-state players Jack DeWulf, Jack Landquist, Tucker Roehl and Kyle Schmidt. Zach Henry joined those four as District 9 West North players as DeWulf was named the district's MVP and Offensive MVP while Landquist was named the district's Defensive MVP. Sam Hitchcock, Tom Wormley and Dillon McGee also played key roles in leading Nevis to the state 9-man championship game and an 11-2 overall record.
DeWulf completed 61 of 116 passes for 1,185 yards and 15 TDs and rushed for 1,141 yards on 175 carries with 12 TDs in scoring 82 points. Schmidt rushed for 1,110 yards and 13 TDs on 208 carries and Roehl rushed for 533 yards and five TDs on 63 carries. Schmidt scored 90 points and Roehl scored 36 points. Henry caught 24 passes for 444 yards and seven TDs and rushed 19 times for 234 yards and four TDs while scoring 80 points. Landquist (center), Hitchcock (guard) and Wormley (tight end) solidified the offensive line.
Defensively, Landquist (81 solo tackles, 32 assisted tackles, six quarterback sacks), Hitchcock (34 solo tackles, 39 assists) and Wormley (17 solo tackles, 29 assists) led the Tigers in the trenches. At linebacker, Roehl had 49 solo tackles and 45 assists, Schmidt registered 38 solo tackles and 36 assists, DeWulf had 37 solo tackles and 19 assists with four interceptions, and McGee tallied 26 solo tackles and 24 assists. Henry had 24 solo tackles, 13 assists and five interceptions in the secondary.
In addition to those losses, senior Michael Landquist is still recovering from an automobile accident. Landquist was an all-district honorable mention tight end and defensive lineman who caught seven passes for 175 yards and two TDs and had 61 solo tackles and 37 assists.
Being counted on to lead the Tigers this season are the three players who return as starters: seniors Ben Soldwisch and Keanu Yabandith and junior Luke DeWulf.
On offense, Soldwisch started at guard, Yabandith was a part-time starter at tight end and Luke DeWulf started at wide receiver and filled in at quarterback. DeWulf completed 6 of 18 passes for 111 yards and three TDs as the backup quarterback, rushed 29 times for 260 yards and two TDs and caught 18 passes for 398 yards and four TDs while scoring 48 points. Yabandith caught six passes for 157 yards and two TDs. On defense, DeWulf had 43 solo tackles, 18 assisted tackles and three interceptions while Soldwisch made 22 solo tackles and Yabandith had six solo tackles.
Vying for the other starting spots are senior Tre Ross (lineman); juniors Chance Braten (running back/linebacker), Liam Andress (lineman), Logan Funk (wide receiver/safety), Dan Mistic (wide receiver/safety), Cooper Henry (tight end/defensive end) and Kolby Hamblin (lineman); sophomores Derek Lindow (quarterback/wide receiver/safety), Brody Johnson (lineman), Reese Kline (running back/linebacker) and Dan Aman (lineman); and freshman Ian Ahrendt (running back/linebacker).
Rounding out the roster are seniors Derek Dunham (running back/linebacker) and Leonardo Vignaroll (wide receiver/safety); sophomore Devin Arola-Johnson (wide receiver/safety); and freshmen Tyler Lindow (quarterback/safety), Nakhi Hollingsworth (wide receiver/linebacker), Nathan Pyburn (wide receiver/safety), Ethan Lewis (running back/linebacker), Bill Houchin (tight end/defensive end), Aiden Thompson (lineman), Dawson Andress (lineman) and Waylon Current (lineman).
During last year's historic season, the Tigers defeated Norman County East/Ulen-Hitterdal 20-18 in the section championship game to qualify for the state playoffs for the fifth time in school history. Nevis marched to final at U.S. Bank Stadium with playoff wins over North Woods (42-14) and Russell-Tyler-Ruthton (44-16) before falling to Spring Grove 32-0 in the state championship game.
Klimek, who has a 79-44 overall record entering his 12th season as the Tigers' head coach, will be assisted by Mike DeWulf, Matt Schmidt and Larry Frank.
"Coming off the best season in school history, the Tigers will have many new faces in the lineup. We only return one starter on each side of the ball. This has created many position battles and several guys are moving to new positions this fall," said Klimek. "We have several guys battling for starting spots on both lines. The keys to our season are going to be our ability to block up front for our backs and our defensive line being able to stop the run. This is a team we believe will grow and improve each week. Like every year, we hope to compete for our district title and to be competitive in our section."