After a season where they broke two long losing streaks and won six games for the first time since 2010, the Tigers are ready to get the 2019 season started.
The season started with the Tigers getting their open week. After an extra week of practice without a game, are the Tigers chomping at the bit?
“They are,” said second-year coach Paul Goehring. “It was kind of nice to have the extra week, but they’re ready. They’re hungry.”
The Tigers open the season on Friday in Miller against the Miller/Highmore-Harrold Rustlers. While Mobridge and Miller used to have a great rivalry, this is the first meeting between Mobridge-Pollock and the Miller/Highmore-Harrold co-op.
Goehring scouted Miller/Highmore-Harrold’s first 11-man game (the co-op started as a nine-man football team) on Friday. He said he saw some things that the Rustlers do well, but also saw things he thinks the Tigers can exploit.
“We’re excited to play,” said Goehring.
The Tiger offense features a pair of seniors who have put up some of the most prodigious numbers in program history.
Quarterback Caden Halsey starts his last year having thrown for 2,657 yards and 32 touchdowns on 152 for 306 passing.
Wide out Reese Cerney comes into his senior season with 53 catches for 1,113 yards and 16 touchdowns.
The rest of the starting skill players are lacking in career numbers, but are not short on talent. They have just had to bide their time as the running and receiving corps have been senior-filled the last two seasons.
Lining up in the backfield with Halsey are junior running back Gavin Reinert and fullback Trace Cerney.
Catching passes with Reese Cerney will be juniors Zane Reinert, Bryston Goehring and Braden Goehring.
Other skill players who look to make a difference are senior Keene Schlomer, junior Cayden Eisemann, sophomore Ashton Pfitzer and freshman Cole Wellner.
The entire offensive line is back, sans Trace Cerney, who is now at fullback. Returning starters are seniors Josh and Kregen Norder and Jon Keller and junior Hudson Filler. Moving into the starting lineup is junior Michael Borah. From left to right they are Filler at tackle, Borah at guard, Josh Norder at center, Keller at right guard and Kregen Norder at right tackle.
Goehring said that the team is lucky to have some depth at the line this year, giving them the opportunity to put Trace Cerney at fullback.
Many of the same players will line up in the Tigers’ traditional 4-4 defense, but there are a couple different starters.
The front line will be Kregen Norder and senior Tucker Holzer at the end and Keller and Josh Norder at tackle. The linebackers will be Trace Cerney and Filler on the inside and Zane Reinert and Eisemann on the outside.
Goehring noted that both of his outside linebackers have done excellent work in the weight room and gotten stronger.
The defensive backfield will be Reese Cerney in the middle with Bryston Goehring and Gavin Reinert on the outside.
The defense has depth and others will see plenty of time including Schlomer, Braden Goehring and senior Gavin Zimmer.
As for special teams, Halsey will do the punting and kicking off. Goehring would not commit to whether the Tigers will kick extra points or go for two-point conversions, but when kicking, senior Noah Bauer and foreign exchange student Paul Mueller both have the toes, but are inexperienced. The holder is senior Jacob Steiger.
Goehring has all of his coaches back in Troy Stenberg, TJ Knudson and Jason Bauer, along with newcomer Donovan Flaherty who is in his first year at Mobridge-Pollock. Goehring said it is really nice to get to add a coach this year, especially one like Flaherty, who Goehring said has been very helpful with the offense, especially at quarterback.
After Miller/Highmore-Harrold, the Tigers head to the Hills to take on another first-time foe in Lead-Deadwood on Saturday, Sept. 7. The home opener is Sept. 13 when Aberdeen Roncalli comes to Tiger Stadium. After that the Tigers play, in order, McLaughlin at home, Sisseton on the road, Webster Area on the road, Redfield at home and Groton Area at home.
Miller/Highmore-Harrold, Lead-Deadwood and Webster Area are all new to this year’s schedule. Dropped from the schedule are Cheyenne-Eagle Butte, Stanley County and Sioux Falls Christian. The games with Miller/Highmore-Harrold and Lead-Deadwood are the first times a Mobridge team is playing the teams, making them the 65th and 66th different teams the Tigers have played since the first full schedule in 1919.
Mobridge-Pollock and Miller/Highmore-Harrold are playing for the first time on Friday. But the Tigers have a long, rich history and a shorter history with Highmore.
Mobridge and Miller played 45 times from 1948 to 2010. The first 42 games were Mobridge vs. Miller. In that time, Mobridge held a one-game edge with a 20-19-3 record over the Rustlers. As Mobridge-Pollock, the Tigers won three straight games to make the final record 23-19-3.
Mobridge and Highmore played 18 times from 1947 to 1980. The Tigers dominated the Pirates to the tune of a 15-3 record. The last time a football team with Highmore players defeated a Mobridge team was 1972.