Harris-Lake Park loses eight to graduation, but ready for 8-manLAKE PARK, Iowa — Despite losing eight players to graduation, the Harris-Lake Park Wolves remain poised to be a force in Iowa 8-man football this year. Last year, the Wolves improved to 7-3 overall, which included a berth in the state tournament, following a 4-5 record in the 2010 campaign.
By: Lance Knutson, Worthington Daily Globe
LAKE PARK, Iowa — Despite losing eight players to graduation, the Harris-Lake Park Wolves remain poised to be a force in Iowa 8-man football this year.
Last year, the Wolves improved to 7-3 overall, which included a berth in the state tournament, following a 4-5 record in the 2010 campaign.
H-LP finished the 2011 regular season in third place in the District 2 standings, but bowed out of the state tournament with a 35-14 first-round loss to Remsen-Union.
The Wolves will play in District 1 this season, and head coach Lane Gunderson’s squad will have to compete without several of its top players from a year ago.
Some of H-LP’s losses from last year include standout running back/linebacker Brady Nissen, receiver/defensive end Connor Gunderson, center/nose guard Nathan Kyle and receiver/defensive back Sam Bosma.
Nissen was the centerpiece for the Wolves on offense and defense as he combined for 1,325 yards from scrimmage (535 rushing, 790 receiving), while scoring 10 touchdowns (seven rushing, three receiving and one return) and recording 67 tackles.
While Nissen and the others contributions will be missed, the Wolves enter the season with four seniors and one junior with extensive varsity playing time. The rest of the roster is filled out by six sophomores and seven freshmen.
Senior quarterback Colin Brons (6-4, 170) is the top returner for H-LP and will be looked upon often to lead the club with his experience and leadership.
Brons had an outstanding junior season, passing for 1,455 yards and 25 touchdowns against two interceptions. Brons also rushed for two touchdowns in 2011.
In the Wolves’ 57-14 season-opening win over Corwith-Wesley-LuVerne, Brons picked up where he left off from last year as he completed 11 of 16 passes for 199 yards and three touchdowns.
The main target for Brons was senior receiver Eli Ihnen (6-3, 200). Ihnen caught seven passes for 162 yards and two scores in the opener after leading the Wolves in receiving last year with 45 catches for 644 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Senior running back Kade Heikens (5-9, 150) will be H-LP’s primary ball carrier this year. He’s off to a stellar start.
Heikens rushed 12 times for 120 yards and three touchdowns in the 2012 opener. He was mainly involved in the passing game a year ago, catching 11 passes for 329 yards and seven touchdowns and now appears poised to be a running and receiving threat this year.
Senior running back Tanner Hiveley (6-2, 190) and sophomore running back Brady Van Iperen (5-11, 145) also were involved with the Wolves’ offense last week. Hiveley rushed for 28 yards and caught three passes for 25 yards and a score, while Van Iperen rushed three times for 84 yards and a touchdown.
Junior Dalton Snow (5-8, 210) and sophomore Skylar Cudmore (5-11, 170) are the top returning player for the Wolves along the offensive line, while several freshmen — including Zach Hellinga (6-0, 208), Hunter Akers (5-8, 185) and Aaron Dean (6-2, 265) — will compete for playing time.
Defensively, Ihnen and Hiveley return to lead the linebacking group. Ihnen recorded 108 tackles, four sacks and three interceptions (two returned for touchdowns) in 2011, while Hiveley finished with 98 tackles, two sacks and three interceptions a year ago.
Brons (40 tackles, six sacks in 2011) leads the Wolves’ defensive line along with Cudmore (31 tackles, one sack), while several of the underclassmen will vie for time along the defensive front.
The H-LP secondary has Van Iperen and Snow returning as well as sophomore Javier Tapia (5-8, 170). Freshman Dalton Burdorf (5-10, 146) will compete for time in the secondary and also at running back.
In the win over C-W-L, Ihnen and Cudmore (fumble recovery) paced the Wolves with 13 tackles each, while Brons and Hiveley each had 11 tackles. Heikens added six tackles and an interception.
Hiveley handles the kickoff duties for H-LP, while Brons will take care of the punting, field goals and extra-point attempts. Heikens will be the primary return man on kicks and punts, while Ihnen and Van Iperen will also get some chances. Ihnen returned a kick for a 65-yard touchdown in the Week 1 win.
H-LP hosted North Iowa, Buffalo Center in its second game of the year and returns to action Friday for the first District 1 game of the season in a rematch with the team that ended the Wolves’ season last year in Remsen-Union.