The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

By Stephen McKay
Sports Writer 

Talking Sports: Time for the rest of the local teams to kick off

 

For two of the football teams in The Sidney Sun-Telegraph coverage area, Friday will be the first game of their season. For another, the Peetz Bulldogs, it will seem like a season opener in many respects.

The two squads opening their campaigns on Friday night are the Potter-Dix Coyotes and the Leyton Warriors. The Coyotes host the Morrill Lions in Potter at 7 p.m., while the Warriors will travel the road to Mullen for a 6:30 p.m. start.

Heading into their second week of action are the Sidney Red Raiders, the Creek Valley Storm and the Bulldogs. Sidney takes its 1-0 record to Adams Central (6 p.m. Mountain time start), Creek Valley (0-1) will challenge Garden County in Oshkosh at 6 p.m. and the 'Dogs (0-1) host the defending six-man state champion Arickaree/Woodlin Indians at 7 p.m.

For the Bulldogs, the game takes on added signifigance since losing their opener at home last week, 60-26, to league foe North Park. Considering Peetz was without the services of its head coach and four players, little could be learned about the kind of year that is expected of the Bulldogs.

Since Peetz and Arickaree will likely shake out as two of the top six-man teams in the state, this game will be an opportunity for each to measure itself against the other.

In addition to head coach Scott Sorensen, freshman Bryson Long, junior Cody Wilson and seniors Wolf Wenneker and Jordan Nelson were all suspended for the North Park game. The suspensions resulted from a Colorado High School Activities Association rule prohibiting players from attending two padded camps over the summer.

While Long has yet to make his mark, he is a promising player who is slated to start at defensive end on Friday. The other suspended players are veteran impact players with multiple varsity seasons under their belt. Nelson rushed for more than 1,000 yards in 2014 while Wilson ran for 612 and led the team in receptions. Wenneker is the starting quarterback.

The loss of four players may not seem like a lot – but four starters in the six-man game makes a huge difference.

While four talented players return, two others will be out due to injury. Senior Shawn Bernhardt hurt his knee against North Park after leading the team in tackles. He is out indefinitely. Sophomore Moot Wenneker rushed for 137 yards in the first half before he went down with a badly sprained ankle. He is expected to miss at least two weeks.

"Losing to North Park hurts, so we really need a win this week," Sorensen said. "(Arickaree) plays in a somewhat weaker league than we do, but every time you beat a playoff team, the better off your are."

While Arickaree went 12-0 on its way to the state title last year, it did lose its biggest impact player to graduation, Kyle Leoffler.

He rushed for nearly 2,000 yards and scored 48 touchdowns. Leoffler was also used as a passer on occassion and threw for better than 200 yards. Arickaree also graduated Isaiah Koolstra who piled up 715 yards on the ground.

"They graduated hard like we did, but they still have plenty of talent there," Sorensen said.

Leoffler's younger brother, Trent, will be a big part of the formula that makes up for the loss of Koolstra and his brother.

"(Trent) Leoffler goes about 6-foot-2 and has good hands and speed," Sorensen said. "We have our own defensive ideas on how to slow them down. Of course this should be a pretty high scoring game. When you run two pretty good offenses against eachother in six-man football, they can be pretty hard to stop."

With Peetz having played its opener without four of its starters and Arickaree off in "week zero," this will feel like the opener for both squads. It's unusual for a game this early in the season to be called a "big game," but this contest qualifies on just about every level.

Peetz and Arickaree are rightly considered among the best six-man teams in Colorado for openers. No matter who wins or loses, both would still be considered among the favorites in the postseason. A Peetz win would be a huge feather in its cap – not to mention a boost to its post-season seeding.

"We went up against Arickaree at camp over the summer and I thought we handled ourselves very well," Sorensen said. "We're walking in there with a little bit of confidence, but they're the defending champions so they've got something to hang their hats on, too."

 

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