Our 2019 high school football previews continue today with the teams for the Northern Plains League that play in the western districts.
All of our area teams from the west in 8-Man DII are in District 5 later this season. Out of that group, the Osborne Bulldogs are again expected to be the favorites in the district. Osborne went 11-2 in 2018 and finished as the DII runner-up. They have four starters returning on each side and former coach Steve Tiernan returns to the sideline as well. Tiernan led the Bulldogs to a 39-7 record from 2011-14, which including the DI state title in 2013. Osborne did lose 8-Man All-Stars Darnell Holloway (2,608 total yards; 1,616 yards, 31 TD rushing), Kade Miller (115 tackles, 3 INT; 530 yards, 10 TD receiving) and Jordan Wherry (78 tackles) among others. RB Darrien Holloway is back after running for 1,574 yards and 33 TD last season and registering 2,141 all-purpose yards and 37 total TD. RB Mason Schurr had 855 yards and 11 TD as a freshman a season ago. DB Steele Wolters also returns after tallying 91 tackles, five interceptions and three fumble recoveries last season. Coach Tiernan likes the way his team looks so far.
Osborne opens their season on Friday night at Hill City.
Also in DII District 5, the Thunder Ridge Longhorns look to take another step forward under second year head coach Joel Struckhoff. After winning just three games in the previous three seasons, the Longhorns went 5-4 in 2018 in Struckhoff’s first season. They do lose five seniors from last season including 8-Man All-Stars Brandon Grauerholz (1,653 AP yards) and Landon Gering. Four starters are back on each side for the Longhorns, led by Colton Davis who ran for 590 yards and 5 TD last season and LB Joseph Ferguson who led the team with 92 tackles. Thunder Ridge also gets Reece Struckhoff back on the football field as he had to sit out the 2018 season due to transfer and is expected to give a lot of production on both sides of the ball. Coach Struckhoff says the team has put in a lot of hard work in the offseason.
Thunder Ridge opens their season on Friday night at home against Lakeside. Fans can hear the game on KD Country 94 and kdcountry94.com with pregame coverage at 6:30 and kickoff at 7:00.
Elsewhere in DII District 5, the Sylvan-Lucas Mustangs hope to be in the mix for a district championship this season. They return six starters on offense and five on defense. They do lose 8-Man All-Stars Tyler Barrientes and Sam Princ, but have a couple key skill players returning in RB’s Beau Batchman and Kilby Meyer. Batchman ran for 1,000 yards and 20 TD last season and also had 100 tackles from his LB position. Tra Barrientes is also back to help anchor the line. After going 6-4 last season, head coach Ben Labertew is hoping for more success in 2019 and discusses what he’s looking for early this season.
Sylvan-Lucas opens the season on Friday night at Chase. The Kats compete in 8-Man DII District 8 later this season. They went just 2-7 last season, but they return six starters on each side of the ball. They also have their fourth coach in four years as Jeremy Deckard takes over the program in 2019.
Wilson is the other NPL team in 8-Man DII District 5. Tony Brokes enters his 21st year as the head coach for the Dragons and hopes his team can improve on a 2-7 finish last season. They return four starters on each side of the ball and open their season on Friday night at Southern Cloud.
The final team from the NPL on the west side is Lincoln, as they are the only team in the league in the 8-Man DI ranks, competing in District 7 later this season. Dustin Patee enters his 2nd season as the Leopards coach. They went 2-7 a season ago, but they do return seven starters on defense and six on offense. Tyler Good is back at RB and LB after registering a team high 107 tackles last season. Other key returners include WR/DB Zach Obermueller and TE/DE Landon O’Hare. They will need to replace their dual threat QB Drew Biggs who was an 8-Man All-Star and ran for over 1,100 yards and 16 TD, threw for over 700 yards and six scores and had 80 tackles on defense. Lincoln opens their season on Friday night at home against Tescott.