Football Tigers open season at Linton-HMB Friday
By Jay Davis
When the Tigers hit the field against Linton-HMB in Linton on Friday, the team will be full of new faces in new places with a few old faces in new places, too.
The Tigers graduated 12 players from last year’s 4-5 team, but some key elements return.
“The team makeup is good,” said coach Nathan Lamb. “We feel pretty good about where we are. The guys have a lot of chemistry as a team instead of a lot of individuals.”
The Tigers will run a spread offense this year with one back and four receivers. After gaining more than 600 yards last year, senior Austin Borah will once again handle the bulk of the carries. Junior Mason Keller takes over at quarterback after leading the team in receiving last year. Senior Jason Hill and junior Ethan Kettering will be the wide outs, while seniors Connor Stock and Jordan Feist will be the slot receivers. Sophomore Noah Chase will be in the mix as part of the rotation bringing plays to the huddle.
Opening holes and keeping the defense off Keller’s back will be an offensive line led by 235-pound senior guard Brett Lang. The rest of the blocking will be underclassmen with juniors David Jensen and Preston Frederick at tackle, junior Chase Schoenhard at center and sophomore Quinten Fish at guard.
Don’t expect to many flashy plays early in the season.
“We’re going too keep it simple,” said Lamb. “We’ll take what the defense gives us.”
Many of the same players will line up on the defensive side of the ball. Schoenhard and Jensen will play defensive end, while Lang and senior Brett Van Vugt will start at tackle. Keller and Feist will play the outside linebacker spots. Chase and sophomore Lucas Ulmer will man the middle. Stoick and Borah are the cornerbacks and Kettering the safety.
Depth will be a problem at some positions on both sides of the ball. There are spots where an injury will mean moving players around to different positions, but there are quality backups waiting in the wings. The line will have some depth, with two or three players ready to step in and help keep the big guys fresh.
Senior leadership will play a big part in how the Tigers progress as a team. Seniors Borah, Feist and Stoick are the team captains.
“They have been great,” said Lamb. “Their leadership has been important to the team.”
Mobridge-Pollock and Linton-HMB are playing the season opener for the seventh straight year. The Tigers and Lions are all square at 3-3, but the Tigers have won three of four and two in a row, including an 18-15 win at Tiger Stadium last season. Each of the last five games has been decided by six points or less. Overall, the Tigers are 9-4 against the Lions, dating back to the first meeting in 1933.
The Tigers get a week off after the first game and then the schedule gets grueling. Groton Area comes to Tiger Stadium on Sept. 13 and Aberdeen Roncalli hits the Bridge City the following Friday. Then the Tigers hit the road for games at Crow Creek, Chamberlain and Winner before rounding out the regular season hosting Cheyenne-Eagle Butte and schedule newcomer St. Thomas More.
Aberdeen Roncalli is ranked second, defending state champion Winner is ranked third and Groton Area ranked seventh in Class 11B to start the season.
“It’s a really good schedule,” said Lamb. “Plus we have to travel a 1,000 miles during the three-week road trip.”
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. in Linton on Friday.