With the 2019 high school football season opening on Friday night, we are previewing area leagues this week. Today, we look at the North Central Activities Association.
Last season, just two teams in the league finished with winning records, Southeast of Saline (8-2) and Beloit (6-4).
The Beloit Trojans enter their third season under head coach Brad Gober in 2019. Seven starters return on each side of the ball, but the Trojans did lose multiple skill players to graduation. Tate Ahlvers, Hayden Budke, Zach Meier and Hudson Smith combined for 2,316 of the 3,461 all-purpose yards for Beloit last season. However, Hudson Gray, who was injured early in the season, playing in just three games, returns at QB. He threw for 485 and six touchdowns in that limited action. Grant Arasmith took over at QB, throwing for 600 yards and 6 TD and running for another 500 and seven scores. Arasmith will move back to RB this season. Carson Cox is back as well as he led the Trojans with 82 tackles and had six tackles for loss and three sacks from his LB position. Other key returners include WR/DB Vincent Palen and OL/DL Creighton Johnson among others. Coach Gober expects good things from this year’s group.
Beloit opens their season on Friday night at Fairbury (NE). Fans can hear the game on Z 96.3 “The Lake” and watch online video stream on the Beloit Trojan Channel at nckssports.com. Pregame coverage begins at 6:30.
Southeast of Saline has a chance to make some noise in the 2A ranks again this season. The Trojans return six starters on offense and five on defense on a team that went 8-2 in 2018. QB Jaxson Gebhardt is back after throwing for 1,393 yds and 10 TD and adding 500 yards and five rushing TD. Also back is RB Bryant Banks who ran for 10 TD and 561 yards.
Southeast opens their season on Friday night against Sacred Heart. The Knights are coming off of a 4-6 season last year. Seven starters are back on both sides for the Knights in 2019. Top returners are QB Mark Hemmer (568 yards, 5 TD) and DL Gus Campa (35 tackles).
Two schools in the NCAA have new coaches this season. Tom Flax takes over at Minneapolis after spending time previously at Herington and Southern Cloud. The Lions went 4-5 last season and return six starters on each side. Top returners include QB Derek Freel and WR Kaden Griffin. Russell also has a new coach. Otis Hendryx takes over in 2019. Hendryx has spent time at Claflin, Chase, Stockton and most recently Thunder Ridge and has an overall record of 62-73. Russell went 3-6 last season, but the Broncos bring back just five starters on offense and three on defense. MLB Jesse Whitmer is the top returner after registering 79 tackles as a freshman last year.
Ellsworth is posed to improved on their 2-7 record a year ago. The Bearcats have eight starters back on offense and seven on defense. QB/CB Morgan Kelley is the top player back. He threw for just under 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns and ran for another eight scores.
Finally in the NCAA, the Republic County Buffaloes look to snap a 19-game losing streak. Despite being 0-9 last season, the Buffaloes gained valuable experience. In fact, they return all their starters and a total of 12 players that started at one point last season. RB Kaleb Talkington (693 yards, 5 TD rushing), QB Cody Dahl (418 yards, 4 TD passing), LB Hunter Hartner (65 tackles, 3 TFL) and LB Tyler Stindt (59 tackles, 5 TFL) are some of the top returners for Republic County.