DAKOTA, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — A lot of local football teams were hit hard by COVID-19 this past spring. Dakota was hit about as hard as any of them, but the Indians are motivated to bounce back.
It was a short, and rough spring season for the Indians. They played only two varsity games and lost both of them big.
“In one sense it was good because it didn’t cost us anything as far as like the playoffs and things like that,” said head coach Joe Free. “We were able to kind of iron out some kinks switching offenses last year and seeing, okay here’s what we were good at. Here’s where they lined up and all that. Scheme-wise it was good. We were able to make some adjustments like almost glorified exhibition games.”
The Indians had a hard time getting guys to come out for the spring season with all the uncertainty. Their numbers were down, and they were forced to play a lot of freshmen and sophomores in the two varsity games.
“Our roster last year our whole program was probably like 26-27 kids. Today we’ve got 40 out here,” said Free.
The Indians will still be young this year, but those young guys have some experience now.
Dakota won’t be the biggest team in the NUIC, but what it lacks in size it should make up for in speed.
“We’re not the biggest line, so we’ve got to work hard, be fast, just go 100 percent every time,” said offensive tackle Aidan Grey.
“You’re going to look at our roster come August and September and be like, ‘Man, they’re not that big’, but we can move,” said Free.
Three guys in particular can move. Adrian Arellano has run a school record 4.44 40. Tyler Kauffman has run a 4.51 and Cam Foesch a 4.61. All three are standout medalist sprinters on the track team.
Junior Kaidyn Niedermeier will be the quarterback. He started one of the two games in the spring.
“I’m pretty confident in him,” said receiver/cornerback Tyler Kauffman. “I like what he’s doing. Last year, I mean, yea a first-year quarterback, but he was doing some pretty good stuff.”
What can fans expect from Dakota this season? Senior offensive tackle and safety Adam Thompson knows.
“They can expect a great season. A hard-working season. No matter what we’re not going to give up. We’re always going to try very hard. We’re going to give it our all.”