Close-knit Bulldogs hope to play smart football

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Members of the MFL MarMac 2016 varsity football team include (front, left to right) managers MacKenzie Gramlich and Chelbe Feuerhelm, Christopher Wright, James Slama, Keaton Dettman, Nathan Johanningmeier, Derek Larson, Avrey Smith, Levi Ferguson, manager Lizzie Miene, assistant coach Kyle Kirkestue; (middle) head coach Tom Oppelt, assistant coach Mitch Seitz, Mason Hertrampf, Brady Olson, Korby Keehner, Michael Berger, Garret Keehner, Riley Wille, Samuel Kvistad, Hunter Boone, Wyatt Geick, assistant coach Brody Baxter, assistant coach Brian Berger; (back) Peyton Meisner, David Bradford, Bryar Ruff, Spencer Rose, Cade Kuenster, Ty Hefner, Chase Stubbs, JP Murphy, Nick Larson, Shane Hexom, Colton Dettman and Kyle Adam. Not pictured are Riley Doeppke and assistant coach Gatlin Keehner. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor

Senior leadership will be one of the hallmarks of this year’s MFL MarMac football team, according to fourth-year head coach Tom Oppelt.

“We have a whole lot of playing experience in our senior class,” he added.

On the offensive side of the ball, Oppelt said the coaching staff—which includes Brody Baxter (four years), Brian Berger (two years) and Kyle Kirkestue, Mitch Seitz and Gatlin Keehner (all in their first season with the team)—expects to see big things of seniors Bryar Ruff, Chase Stubbs, Riley Doeppke, Ty Hefner and Nick Larson. 

Defensively, senior Colton Dettman, who already broke the school record for most tackles for a loss, with five, in the first game of the season Aug. 26, will play a key role, Oppelt shared. Mason Hertrampf and Derek Larson, both juniors, are also expected to make an impact, he said.

Some younger players will fill key roles, as well.

“We have a number of young players we are hoping will step up and meet the challenges of varsity football,” Oppelt noted. “They include Garett Keehner, Chris Wright, Korby Keehner, Riley Wille, Levi Ferguson and Nathan Johanningmeier.”

As the season progresses, Oppelt said the team will work to play smart football and try to lessen penalties in inopportune moments of the game.

“We have, in the past, seemed to shoot ourselves in the foot at the worst times,” he said.

Oppelt said he’s most excited to witness how close the players are with one another.

“Our team is playing very well together,” he said. “It was obvious during camp that this was a special group of athletes who have worked very hard in the off-season and are committed to playing the best football they can.”

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