The offseason is a time for preparation. That applies to the coaches as much as the players.

For South Border second-year head coach Quentin Schumacher and his assistants, that meant time for research and coaching camps. The information gleaned this summer could plant the seeds of success for this season and beyond.

“We’re way ahead of where we were last year,” Schumacher said. “Things are looking really good. We’re in better shape.”

He hopes one of the results is an offense that’s more refined than the one the Mustangs used a season ago. Schumacher said his team has less experience this year, but he’s hoping more talent and his team’s offseason work pays dividends in 9-man Region 4. 

“A lot of it was just improving what we were already working on,” Schumacher said. “The right way to be doing things. … A better approach at teaching and making it easier to learn.”

Schumacher said his team will lean on a run-first approach on offense behind seniors Payton Hulm, Mark Jochim and Ty Bucholz. He said his team’s skills and lack of size along the offensive line were big influences in going with an option offense.

“It’s all really helped us move forward offensively,” Schumacher said. “We’re miles ahead of where we were offensively.”

Coyotes build ‘brotherhood’

Grant County head coach Jamie Krenz saw his team hit the weight room this offseason to put on some needed muscle. The improved sense of camaraderie among his players was an added bonus. 

“Our biggest thing is we needed to get into the weight room,” said Krenz, who is in his 23rd season coaching the Coyotes. “We had a good offseason doing that. We needed to get stronger and work on that brotherhood.”

Krenz said he felt there was a need to “regroup and refocus” as his team hopes to get back to the playoffs after last year’s 3-5 campaign. He pointed to the team’s seven seniors as the ones he’ll lean on to set the tone for his younger players. 

“We’ve got kids who have played for four years straight,” Krenz said. “We have a big freshman class too.”

Sophomore quarterback Jace Freisz is expected to spread the ball around and also be a running threat for the Coyotes. Senior running back/linebacker Joey Leingang, junior running back/defensive back Connor Ottmar and senior tight end Greg Greicar are expected to be among the big contributors.

“We’ve got some strong teams (in Region 4 with) Kidder County, Napoleon-Gackle-Streeter and Linton-HMB,” Krenz said. “We’ll have our hands full. … The rest of us will be fighting it out for that last spot.”

Extra points

-- Napoleon-Gackle-Streeter is coming off an 8-1 season and three straight appearances in the 9-man state quarterfinals. But, in all three years, they were eliminated in that round. The Imperials will be looking for more this year out of Region 4 behind sophomore quarterback Tucker Schneider, senior tight end/defensive end Garrett Jangula and senior wide receiver/linebacker Colten Jangula.

-- Expectations are also high for Kidder County in Region 4 after reaching the second round of last year’s 9-man playoffs. Kidder County has plenty of senior leadership, including tight end/defensive end Ty Biesterfeld, running back/linebacker Parker Hager, running back/defensive back Isaiah Harter and offensive lineman/defensive lineman Thomas Thompson. 

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