MANDAN, N.D. - Mandan would have preferred a better football season last year, but there’s nothing it can do about that.
“New field, new equipment, it’s a new year, new us, excited for it,” as junior defensive end Carson Meyer said, as Head Coach Todd Sheldon adds, "each year is a little bit different, and this year there's a, really a strong senior class that had an opportunity to play quite a bit last year, so the excitement level is that, it's their year, it's their opportunity."
The Mandan Braves have a number of seniors on their team this year, but what makes this season different, is their togetherness.
"There's no 'i' in team this year, like the last few years we had a couple of 'me' people, so this year is going to, we're all the same. No senior pride or anything like that, so freshman, seniors, are equal," Meyer adds.
Senior wide receiver Trae Steckler says, "I would say, how we communicate with each other. You know we're buddies, we're right there with each other, you know, it's kind of, we're just brothers, you know."
And with some depth returning to this football team, their defense is one area they have fewer things to worry about, as junior quarterback Kaden Krause says, "a lot of our starters from last year coming back, and more guys that have come out this year have played this year, so we'll have good depth at most of our positions."
Meyer mentions, “I'm very confident, we've been playing together forever. Our defense is probably one of the best things we have on the team. And I'm not afraid to put that to the test."
When it comes to Mandan’s offense, there are some positions that need more depth. "On the offensive side of the ball, we've got five lineman that are tried and true, tested, ready to go kind of thing, and after that we're going to have to develop as this year goes on,” Coach Sheldon says. “Move a few kids into the offensive line, and we feel like those kids can compete for starting jobs as we go through this."
The job of running the ball will fall to guys like Jackson Zittleman and Quinn Halstengard, but when Krause puts it in the air, he likes his options on the other end. "Big tight end, Trae Steckler, he's a good football player for us, so he's a really good asset to have out there. Skyler Bossart, another wide receiver for us, really fast guy for us. He can catch the ball, run some good routes. Cameron Steckler, Trae's brother, he's another tall guy I can throw it up to."
So to say the least, quarterback Kaden Krause won’t have to worry about who he’s passing to. "We have a lot of speed, we don't have a lot of size but our speed is on point, we have new plays, kind of gets us ready for that after the size,” Meyer adds.
Coach Sheldon mentions that "those positions, quarterback, we're about 3-deep, the wide receiver spots, we're flush so we feel really good about going into the season as far as experience and our depth goes. You know if I have one area where I have concerns, it's the offensive line. There's some inexperienced kids coming in there, but I like what we have in terms of positions."
The Braves open their season at Feris Field on Aug. 25 against Grand Forks Central.