Enough bumps, Spartans ready to break out
This is the season the Ulen-Hitterdal Spartans will grow up.
After a couple of seasons being forced to play underclassmen, those players are ready to earn the fruits of their labor.
"We have the bulk of our returners back and lost only two seniors from last year's team," said first-year head coach Dustin Fraten. "They have grown up and ready."
Senior Tanner Wang will be both the anchor on each lines after being fully recovered from an ACL injury last year.
"Tanner is a phenomenal lineman, he'll be opening and plugging holes on the line," Fraten said.
Running behind Wang and the offensive line is senior Taylor Koczur at fullback.
Senior Cody Zimmerman will run the defense at quarterback and will provide another strong rushing option.
"Cody can pass it, yet, but he has the control of the huddle," Fraten said.
One of Zimmerman's targets will be hybrid tight end/wide receiver senior Levi Anderson, who can also play running back.
"Our senior group are leaders and you can see it in them this year, they have a bit of that swagger," Fraten said.
The workhorse on the offense will be junior Dillon Stevens, who will average between 25-30 carries a game.
"The majority of his runs will be between the tackles, but he can also bounce it outside," Fraten included about Stevens.
Junior Adam Wibe will also provide some speed in the backfield, as well as sophomore Nolan Briard.
"Our philosophy on the offense will be ball possession," the U-H coach said. "We want to eat up ground and the clock."
The defensive line will be led by Wang, while the linebackers will be the key in the nine-man scheme.
Sophomore Troy Peterson, Koczur and Briard will handle the linebacking duties.
"These guys have taken their licks the last couple of years, but these seniors are hungry to win now," Fraten said. "If we can stay healthy, I think we can turn this around."
Fraten was a two-year assistant at Ulen-Hitterdal, before becoming the head coach this year.
He was also a seven-year assistant at Lemmon, S.D.