After making early exits in the playoffs in recent years, the Dakota Indians say simply making the playoffs isn’t good enough anymore.
“First, second round losses aren’t going to cut it anymore,”says senior running back/safety Aden Cassidy. “We want to make past round two and further, deeper into the playoffs.”
No, this team has it’s sights set much higher in 2018.
“I told the kids it’s go to the quarterfinals or bust for us,” says head coach Joe Free. “We’ve been kind of happy just getting home field advantage in the first round or getting into the second round. That’s not what Dakota does.”
What Dakota wants to do is make a run at the 1A state title this season, and the Indians have a talented, senior-driven roster to make that happen. It starts in their backfield. Seniors Trey Engelbrecht and Aden Cassidy return to lead the Indians ground and pound offense.
“Trey ran for almost a thousand yards last year,” says Free. “Aden added a nice chunk of change his junior year, and he was kind of big part of our backfield his sophomore year too. So having those two guys back in the backfield helps us a lot.”
“It’s going to be on our line this year,” says Cassidy. “Our line is going to be the deciding factor. We have the backs. We have the talent in the backfield. The big question is if our line can get it done?”
There’s no shortage of experience on that line. Seniors Ryan Binger, Erik Quinnett, junior Luke Schwarze lead the way up front.
“Our group is pretty good,” says Quinnett. “I think we’re more disciplined this year unlike last year where we had a ton on penalties and it caused us to lose games. This year our line is going to be disciplined, and we’re going to know our plays.”
Junior Josh Clark is taking over at quarterback for Dakota. He adds another element to the offense.
“Josh is more of a dual threat for us,” says Free. He lets us add a fourth back out of the backfield that can run anytime, but he’s also got a pretty good strong arm there.”
Defensively the Indians return seven starters. All-conference senior Carter Drake leads the defensive line. Binger, Engelbrecht, and Mason Peters are linebackers while Evan Riggle, Cassidy, and Cade Kolster man the secondary.
“I think we have a strong d-backs set, and we have a strong d-line, and we have strong linebackers too,” says Cassidy. “So I think pretty much all over we’re going to be pretty strong on defense.”