Wolverines enter 9-man as Mountain Lake AreaMOUNTAIN LAKE — This season is all about change for the Mountain Lake Area Wolverines football team.
By: Jordan Willi, Worthington Daily Globe
MOUNTAIN LAKE — This season is all about change for the Mountain Lake Area Wolverines football team.
Not only did Mountain Lake Christian trade places with former co-op partner Butterfield-Odin, but the team made the move to 9-man as well.
“This is our first year playing 9-man,” Wolverines coach Tim Kirk said. “Last year we had an idea we were going to 9-man, so I watched as many games of 9-man football as I could. I’ve never coached it before, so I asked a lot of coaches about it and got bits and pieces from them. It is still football, but it is definitely different.”
The Wolverines were 7-3 last season with the help of 11 seniors who played key roles in the team’s success.
The team this year will be without running back Kaleb Grev, who ran for 724 yards on 135 attempts and scored three touchdowns.
Mountain Lake Area will also be without fullback/tight end/defensive tackle Beau Herrig, who rushed for 211 yards and two touchdowns while picking up 225 yards reception yards and four passing touchdowns.
The Wolverines also lost linebacker/guard Matt Willaby and center/defensive tackle Jordan Kirk, along with the rest of their offensive line.
Luckily for Mountain Lake Area, the move to 9-man means the Wolverines only have to replace three of the missing linemen. Kirk plans to give center Josh Grev, guard Vince Johnson and guard Chris Heffele a shot to anchor the offensive line.
“They are all battle ready but still need some experience,” Kirk said. “We have a bunch of athletes. Now we just need to get used to playing 9-man.”
The Wolverines also return starting quarterback Carter Kirk, who threw for 1,390 yards, 18 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Another player returning to the offense is Andrew Hempeck, who can act as a running back or receiver.
“If we can stay healthy we can be competitive, even dangerous,” Kirk said.
One area of the game Kirk knows will be an ongoing evolution is special teams.
“We have to replace almost all of our special teams players from last year,” Kirk said. “It will be a work in progress for us, but the kids have been showing me they can do it.”
Kirk is going to try and run the offense the same as he has in the past while trying to adjust his defense to the new schemes it will need to know for 9-man football.
In the end, it will all come down to how quickly and how well the Wolverines adjust to the new style of football.
“If we teach them the basics, they will still get better even in a different style of football,” Kirk said. “We are as prepared as we are going to be, but we are not overconfident. We will get better and better as the year goes on, as long as we stay healthy.”
The Wolverines start their first year in 9-man football on the road against Renville County West at 7 p.m. Sept. 7. Then the Wolverines come home to face Hills-Beaver Creek at 7 p.m. Sept. 14 in Mountain Lake.
Mountain Lake Area plays at home three more times this season and competes on the road at Randolph and Fulda before the end of the fall.