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Last year at this time Joe Free was settling in for his first season as head coach and his players were still trying to grasp his system. Those aren’t issues anymore.

“We didn’t have to waste a lot of time in the offseason kind of introducing all these new schemes or anything being year two with me and year two with our offense installed,” says Free.

“Since we got coach Free for a couple years now we’re starting to get in the groove. We know what he wants,” says Dakota running back/linebacker Grant Gallagher.

What Free wants is another physical team.

 “We’re going to try our best to be power football here,” says Free. “That’s what Dakota does and that’s what I believe in.”

245 pound nose tackle and guard Maverick McPeek will provide much of that power. Carter Drake and Luke Schwarze are also back on the line.

“We’ve got a really experienced line this year,” says McPeek. “Only two of our starters on the line last year are gone this year so a lot of power on the line.”

What the Indians no longer have is that great one-two running back tandem of Andrew Wenger and Matt Holste. Both have graduated after rushing for more than 21 hundred yards last season, but Free doesn’t seem concerned.

“I think we’re more balanced in the backfield. We lost Holste and we lost Wenger. It’s going to be hard to replace those guys but now we’ve got Trey Engelbrecht, Aiden Cassidy, Mason Peters. Then we have Grant Gallagher too. We lose two big guys but we get a lot more balance and a lot faster I believe.”

There’s also a new quarterback. Senior Kyle Bordner has taken over that job.

“We looked good this summer in some of our seven-on-sevens with Kyle Bordner kind of stepping up and showing that he can make all  the throws we asked him to,” says Free.

Defensively the Indians are again impacted by the loses of Wenger and Holste, but they’re stronger up the middle with some of the experience they return led by McPeek at nose tackle and Gallagher and Brock Duncan at linebacker.

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