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Return of skill players has Tigers expecting successful season

     Expect another explosive offense to lead the Nevis 9-man football team to another successful season.

     Last fall, the Tigers averaged 34.0 points a game to finish third in the Great Northern Conference with a 6-2 record. Nevis received the No. 2 seed for the Section 6 playoffs and defeated No. 7 Northland Remer 60-12 before being eliminated with a 42-20 loss to No. 3 Waubun.

     With the majority of those players returning, head coach Shawn Klimek is expecting the Tigers to once again contend for conference and section titles.

     Leading the Tigers this season are five players who earned all-conference honors last fall. That group features seniors Austin Becker, Gavin Becker, Courtland Chase and Gavin Hitchcock and junior Kiefer Miller. The Beckers and Chase were all-conference players while Hitchcock and Miller were all-conference honorable mention players.

     Quarterback Austin Becker (5-9, 182) returns to lead the Tigers’ offense after completing 69 of 145 passes for 1,254 yards and 16 touchdowns and rushing 112 times for 719 yards and seven TDs. Becker scored 50 points last season.

     Gavin Becker (6-1, 175) returns at wide receiver after leading the Tigers with 30 receptions for 714 yards and 14 TDs while rushing 20 times for 153 yards and one TD while leading the team with 92 points.

     Chase (6-1, 200) returns at tight end after catching 18 passes for 346 yards and one TD.

     Hitchcock (5-10, 175) rushed 84 times for 490 yards and eight TDs and made 11 catches for 118 yards and one TD while scoring 64 points.

     Miller (5-10, 195) had 86 carries for 639 yards and six TDs last season.

     Also returning on offense are juniors Jordan Spenst (5-9, 156) and Hunter Darchuk (5-6, 140) at running back and sophomore Griffin Chase (5-10, 140) at wide receiver. Spenst rushed 30 times for 213 yards and two TDs, Darchuk had 25 carries for 106 yards and two TDs and Chase caught nine passes for 91 yards.

     Seniors Travis Sannan (5-8, 152) and Corey Sandelin (5-10, 145) and sophomore Kyler Reese (5-2, 103) will provide depth at running back while juniors Landon Godwin (6-0, 190) and Clayton DeWulf (6-1, 160) will provide depth at tight end.

     Comprising the offensive line will be senior Victor Mastley (5-9, 153); junior Brian Scouton (5-11, 200); and sophomores Dylan Queenan (5-6, 198), Cameron Gross (5-10, 210), Jacob Jordan (5-10, 198) and Patrick Kuhn (6-1, 174). Mastley returns as the starter at center.

     Returning to lead the defense are Courtland Chase (47 solo tackles, 7.5 sacks) at end, Hitchcock (42 solo tackles) at middle linebacker, Spenst (35 solo tackles) at outside linebacker, Miller (33 solo tackles) at middle linebacker, Gavin Becker (26 solo tackles, three interceptions) at safety, Austin Becker (16 solo tackles, three interceptions) at outside linebacker, Darchuk (13 solo tackles) at defensive back and Godwin (11 solo tackles) at tackle. Gross (tackle) and DeWulf (end) will also play key roles.

     Looking to fill in for last year’s senior crew of Michael Tranby (48 solo tackles), Skyler Huckbody (30 solo tackles) and Michael Babler (24 solo tackles) will be Jordan, Kuhn, Scoutan and Queenan on the line; Mastley and Sandelin at linebacker; and Griffin Chase, Sannan and Reese in the secondary.

     “The motto for the 2014 season is ‘Win the Day!” We are working hard at enjoying the journey and not worrying about the end result of the season. We are working to get better each and every day,” said Klimek, who will be assisted by Mike DeWulf and Matt Schmitt. “The strength of this year’s team is the returning skill position players. We are returning 100 percent of our skill guys and their experience should pay off for us. One area we need to work on is our line play and depth. We have a lot of young guys competing in camp for starting jobs and their development will be a key to our success this season. If we focus on winning each and every day, we should be able to compete with anyone on our schedule.”