DAKOTA, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — At the end of last season the Dakota Indians were playing about as well as any Class 1A team in the State. They went deep into the playoffs. They believe some of that momentum has carried over to this year.
The Indians reached the state quarterfinals last year. That’s where they gave eventual state champion Forreston all it could handle. The Indians lost 22-20 at Forrreston. A missed two point conversion attempt at the end of the game was the difference. That game though showed Dakota how far it had come.
“Last year towards the end of the year we built on and built on every game, and it’s definitely carried over in the summer,” says Dakota quarterback Josh Clark.
“Forreston, (us) losing there in the playoffs kind of left a chip on our shoulders,” says Dakota lineman Luke Schwarze. “So we’re ready to come back and play hard.”
The Indians offense evolved last season. They switched from being a team that relied heavily on the run to a spread team. The results were impressive. This season the Indians plan to throw all sorts of looks at their opponents.
“We’re going to be whatever we need to be,” says Free. “It’s just kind of meshing everything.” “I’ve always been formation people to death and see whatever they want to give us let’s use it.”
In Clark and his backup Cade Moyer the Indians have two quarterbacks who are intelligent enough to handle all those formations. Both have 4.0 plus GPAs.
“The two smartest guys in our program are our quarterbacks, so you can put a little bit extra on them,” says Free.
The Indians did lose their top two rushers from last season Trey Engelbrecht and Aiden Cassidy. Free isn’t concerned. He says the Indians backfield strength now will rest in its numbers.
“I think we’ve got a lot more depth this year. We’ve got Quinton Heilemeier. He’s going to come in as a junior. We’ve got Lucas Sutherland coming up. Cade Wales coming up. Cade Moyer is going to be our gadget guy.”
There’s also Evan Riggle and Ben Holste slated to share time at fullback. When the Indians pass, Clark’s top targets will be tight end Wyatt Rockey and Jacob Kleckner.
Schwarze will be the key guy on the lines for the Indians. This will be his fourth-year starting on varsity. He’s one of six returning starters on defense.
“We’re really coming together,” says Schwarze. “We’ve got a lot of returning starters on our defense, so I think we can really tighten it up.”
The one down note is the Indians have already lost one of the best kickers and punters in the conference Nolan Lentz. He’s on crutches with a torn meniscus.