Tigers ready to conquer new challenges
Shawn Klimek and the Nevis 9-man football team are ready to conquer some new challenges this season.
The first challenge is replacing seven players who graduated from last year's squad that dominated play during the regular season and went 10-1 overall.
The second is task rebounding from a heartbreaking 32-28 loss to Waubun in the Section 6 9-man championship game. Nevis led 28-12 with six minutes to play before Waubun rallied for the win.
The third challenge is tackling a new district and a tougher schedule. Nevis moves to District 9 North this fall and will face Kittson County Central, Win-E-Mac, Waubun, Northern Freeze, Clearbrook-Gonvick, Norman County East/Ulen-Hitterdal, Goodridge/Grygla and Stephen-Argyle during the regular season. Those eight teams, along with Warren-Alvarado-Oslo, combined to go 52-41 last season with Stephen-Argyle defeating KCC 41-22 in the Section 8 9-man championship game. Last season, Waubun, NCE/UH and Win-E-Mac played in District 9 West North 1 while Stephen-Argyle, KCC, Clearbrook-Gonvick, Warren, Goodridge and Northern Freeze played in District 9 West North 2.
In contrast, Nevis played in District 9 North Gold last season and went 4-0, outscoring Ogilvie, Hill City/Northland, Isle and Onamia 184-38. The Tigers' four district opponents last season combined for a 10-26 record. Nevis outscored its other four opponents (Bigfork, Kelliher-Northome, Silver Bay and Lake of the Woods) 208-28 as those four teams combined to post a 15-20 overall record.
The Tigers won't dominate their regular-season opponents like they did last fall. A year ago, Nevis outscored the opposition 268-0 in the first half and 392-66 overall during the regular season in being ranked No. 4 in the state 9-man poll and earning the No. 2 seed for the Section 6 playoffs. A 66-0 win over No. 7 Laporte and a 22-15 win over No. 3 NCE/UH sent the Tigers to the section title game as Nevis ended with a 508-113 scoring advantage over its opponents.
This season, Section 6 drops to six teams with Nevis joining Waubun, NCE/UH, Rothsay, Win-E-Mac and Laporte. Ada-Borup and Norman County West combined programs and will play in Section 6A while Cass Lake-Bena moved up to Section 8A.
"Moving to a new district this fall will bring new excitement and new challenges for us," said Nevis head coach Shawn Klimek, who will be assisted by Mike DeWulf and Matt Schmidt. "The guys are very excited for the chance to compete against some of the best programs in the state during the regular season."
Being counted on to lead the Tigers back to the section championship game are seniors Jack DeWulf, Jack Landquist, Tucker Roehl, Kyle Schmidt, Zach Henry and Tom Wormley. Those six return as starters with DeWulf and Landquist earning all-district honors and Roehl and Schmidt receiving all-district honorable mention honors.
DeWulf, an all-state honorable mention selection, returns at quarterback after completing 63 of 95 passes for 1,285 yards and 17 TDs while rushing 124 times for 887 yards and 14 TDs while scoring 100 points.
Schmidt and Roehl return in the backfield. Schmidt compiled 547 yards on 78 rushes with eight TDs for 60 points while Roehl rushed 42 times for 266 yards and two TDs.
Landquist returns to lead the offensive line at center.
Henry (eight receptions for 162 yards and two TDs) returns at wide receiver while Wormley (four receptions for 14 yards) returns at tight end.
Competing for the other starting spots are senior Dillon McGee (tight end), senior Sam Hitchcock (line), junior Michael Landquist (tight end), junior Keanu Yabandith (tight end/running back), junior Ben Soldwisch (line), sophomore Luke DeWulf (wide receiver), sophomore Darrin Keezer (line/running back) and sophomore Chance Braton (line).
Luke DeWulf rushed 23 times for 221 yards and four TDs and completed 10 of 15 passes for 130 yards and a TD. Keezer rushed 44 times for 203 yards and three TDs. Yabandith rushed 20 times for 177 yards and one TD.
Returning on defense are Jack DeWulf (22 tackles, four interceptions at outside linebacker), Roehl (67 tackles at linebacker), Jack Landquist (20 tackles at defensive end) and Schmidt (59 tackles at linebacker).
Looking to fill the other defensive spots are Henry at safety, Michael Landquist at tackle, McGee at linebacker, Hitchcock at tackle, Yabandith at linebacker and Luke DeWulf at safety and linebacker. Henry had 27 solo tackles, Luke DeWult had 14 solo tackles, Michael Landquist made 12 solo tackles and Yabandith had 12 solo tackles last season.
The Tigers have several key positions to fill with the graduation of Griffin Chase, Dylan Queenan, Logan Tinnes, Cameron Gross, Andrew Dudley and Kyler Reese. Chase was named to the 9-man All-State Team and joined Queenan, Tinnes and Gross as all-district players. Chase led the team with 29 receptions for 549 yards and 11 TDs while scoring 94 points. Chase also had nine interceptions (returning three for TDs) and 17 tackles. Queenan and Gross solidified the offensive line with Queenan making 23 solo tackles and Gross making 35 solo tackles on defense. Tinnes rushed 55 times for 423 yards and eight TDs and tallied 54 solo tackles. Dudley caught 13 passes for 583 yards and five TDs. Reese rushed 40 times for 168 yards and five TDs and made 16 solo tackles.
Providing depth for the Tigers are senior Noah Veit (line/linebacker); junior Brendan Henderson (line); sophomores Cameron Sherman (wide receiver/safety), Logan Funk (wide receiver/safety), Dan Mistic (wide receiver/safety), Cooper Henry (end) and Liam Andress (line); and freshmen Derek Lindow (quarterback/safety), Reese Kline (running back/linebacker), Brodey Johnson (line/linebacker) and Dan Aman (end).
"The key to our season is going to be our ability to block up front for our backs. We have several guys battling for starting spots on the offensive line. Our backfield is experienced and should be one of the strengths of our team. Defensively, we will have battles going on for the defensive tackle. Our linebackers are all returning from last year's team. We also have good experience at the defensive end position," said Klimek. "We hope to compete for our district title and be competitive in our section this fall."