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Tigers enter new era with veteran crew

Shawn Klimek is counting on a veteran lineup to kick off a successful new era for the Nevis 9-man football team.

After opening the season at Cromwell Friday night, the Tigers will make history by hosting Silver Bay under the lights on Sept. 10 in the first night football game at Nevis.

"The team is very excited about playing under the lights for the first time in Nevis history," said Klimek, who will be assisted by Dan Halfmann and Sherm Anderson. "The team is optimistic that they can improve on last year's 4-5 season."

Last season the Tigers shared the Great Northern Conference West title with a 2-1 record. Nevis entered the Section 6 9-man playoffs as the No. 3 seed and was eliminated with a 34-28 loss to No. 6 Waubun.

The Tigers have the experience to improve on that record and advance further in the playoffs with the return of 16 letterwinners. Leading Nevis this season will be the senior crew of Zach Anderson (quarterback/defensive lineman), Billy Andrus (end), Anthony Becker (running back/defensive tackle), Beau Daniels (tight end/outside linebacker), Garret Edelman (lineman/defensive end), Nick Halfmann (running back/middle linebacker), Sean Howes (tight end/defensive lineman), Stephen Keezer (running back/outside linebacker), Leroy Phillips (lineman) and Dylan Stenberg (wide receiver/safety).

Also returning as letterwinners are juniors Joe Bolling (lineman), Matt Gustafson (running back/outside linebacker), Matthew Halik (lineman) and Josh Hass (running back/linebacker); and sophomores Taylor Chase (wide receiver/safety) and Robbie Hine (running back/linebacker).

Of that group, Edelman was an all-state honorable mention player and joined Anderson, Halfmann and Stenberg as all-conference players. Andrus, Becker and Daniels received all-conference honorable mention honors last season.

Rounding out the varsity lineup are junior Brent Rodgers (lineman); sophomores Kyle Bannor (end), Collin Huckbody (offensive lineman/middle linebacker), Jake Keranen (end) and Mark Meyer (lineman); and freshmen Michael Babler (running back/linebacker), Austin Becker (quarterback/linebacker), Mickey Buck (lineman), Kyle Charmoli (lineman) and Daniel Stacey (wide receiver/safety).

On offense, Anderson returns at quarterback after completing 74 of 154 passes for 1,081 yards and 11 touchdowns. His top targets this season will be Stenberg (28 catches for 378 yards and five TDs), Andrus (eight catches for 101 yards), Chase (five catches for 75 yards) and Halfmann (four catches for 30 yards).

Stenberg led the Tigers in rushing last season with 515 yards on 76 carries with five TDs. Becker rushed 86 times for 430 yards and two TDs while Halfmann had 52 rushes for 195 yards.

Leading the defense will be Halfmann (77 solo tackles), Edelman (62 solo tackles, 4.5 sacks, five fumble recoveries), Gustafson (41 solo tackles), Daniels (42 solo tackles), Becker (38 solo tackles) and Stenberg (34 solo tackles, five interceptions).

Also contributing on defense last season were Andrus (13 solo tackles), Halik (12 solo tackles), Hass (five solo tackles) and Hines (four solo tackles).

"In order for us to be successful, we are going to have to stay healthy," said Klimek. "The guys are competing hard at practice every day and are fighting for starting jobs. I told them every job is available, so go out and earn a job."

Klimek sees defending champion Ada-Borup and Waubun as the favorites in the section. The Nevis head coach likes his team's chances to contend in both the conference and section this season.

"The guys have been working very hard this season and believe that we can compete with anyone. The team has really bought into the 'team ball' theme this year and that is great to see," said Klimek. "We will look to our 10 seniors to provide leadership and experience. These kids have been playing together for a long time and are looking to make some noise in the conference and section this year."