As it’s football season in North Dakota, the University of Mary is one team that can tell you straight up that they did not have a good season last year. Just like every team, they make full use of the off-season, working out all the issues from the previous year.
With many changes happening with the Marauders football program, Coach Kotelnicki is optimistic about this year compared to last.
"Last eight and half months I'm really happy with the direction everything in the program's going. The leadership from our program, the leadership from the upper-classman on our team has been fantastic, the commitment level has been fantastic, the summer program's been excellent. Everything compared to the year before, everything in our program is a lot better than it was a year ago."
Now the Marauders will be working with a new option offense, but the defense is also going through some changes as well.
Senior Defensive Lineman Landon Smith says, "we definitely lost some key players last year, but one nice thing, we've got a lot of returning and we're all one year older. So, on the defensive side of the ball, I'm just going to reiterate what I said before, but, we had a lack of consistency last year, and like I say, we need to be able to come together, we need to know what our responsibility is, and we need to execute that responsibility."
The Marauders open up their season in just two weeks on the road at Concordia, St. Paul.
Now the Minot State Beavers have hit the practice field as well as they prepare for another year, and similar to the Marauders, they had a rough season being 1-10 as well.
With the mix of some players and upper-classman, it’s expected by the team to see the new guys show what they’ve got.
Senior Linebacker Trevin Swensen says, "as far as our first 11 go, we're pretty, we've got a lot of returners, but as far as our depth goes, a lot of the new depth we're got some younger cats, but that doesn't necessarily mean they're not going to be impact players. You know we got some young guys that are really good, understand the game really well, and they're going to be very important for us this year."
"We have some experienced guys that have played in previous games, they'll be back.” Head Coach of the Beavers, Tyler Hughes explains. “We signed some good young kids. I think defensively the biggest thing right now is, getting some of these young players game ready. And I don't know who is going to be yet, and they've got to get themselves ready. Everyone in our locker room, on our roster needs to feel like that for the first game, I could be called on to play. We're not there yet, we haven't established that yet, we need guys to really step up and start separating themselves, you know certain sports in the secondary, couple spots along the defensive line."
Now the Beavers will hit the field for their first game on Sep. 1 in Mankato, MN to face the Mavericks.