Aug. 23—After a rough last fall where the Deary Mustangs went 1-6, the team will look to its experienced upperclassmen to lead it to a better season.
"The last couple years have definitely been rebuilding years," Deary coach Tim Olson said. "It feels like we're at the stage now where we're hoping to compete for that second state berth from our division. With our schedule, we're going to try and be competitive every game."
The team lost four seniors to graduation but has five seniors stepping up this year. Deary has six juniors, not including quarterback Wyatt Vincent, who injured his knee at spring camp. Sophomore Nolan Hubbard will take over at the QB position.
Offensively, the core focus will be on senior receivers Dallen Stapleton and Tucker Ashmead with a backfield trio of seniors Blaine Clark, TJ Beyer and junior Dawson Bovard. Sophomore Jacob Mechling will play receiver and some corner and is a talented player who Olson said has gained some size in the offseason.
"We're getting to the point where we have upperclassmen with a good mentality and a lot of experience in the system now," Olson said. "The team culture is the strongest it has ever been. These juniors and seniors have now played together for a while and have strong leadership on the team."
On defense, Olson will look to Bovard at linebacker and freshman defensive end Blake Clark.
"I expect big things from him," Olson said about Clark. "He has good size and athleticism and is a solid player. We're a swarming defense, so we need to make sure we're rallying to the ball."
Last year's win came against Kootenai and it was a big one where the Mustangs won 78-0. Two of Deary's losses were within one score, falling to Timberline 40-32 and Lewis County 18-14. Olson said those games are winnable this year as long as his team finishes the job.
"The whole year we've been talking about those losses," Olson said. "We took a step to stay competitive but couldn't finish out the games by not having that extra motor in the fourth quarter, not finishing our blocks or plays. That's been a focal point — finishing and doing all the extra work to come out on the other end of the scoreboard this year."
Deary will open the season in an away game against Troy, then have its home opener against Kootenai where the Mustangs will hope for a repeat of the game from last season. That one will spark a four-game homestand before finishing the season with away games against Genesee, Lewis County and Kendrick.
"Kendrick is the king of the mountain, but we are certainly looking to push for that second slot for a state playoff berth," coach Olson said.
3 things to watch
Sophomore quarterback Nolan Hubbard will have to step up and lead the Mustangs offense with junior quarterback Wyatt Vincent being out with a knee injury.
Incoming freshman Blake Clark will see some play time and look to be a major contributor on defense. According to coach Tim Olson, the 6-foot, 180-pounder has strong athleticism and is a solid player.
The Mustangs lost to Lewis County by just four points at home last season. This year, the Mustangs will look to spoil Lewis County's senior night for the second-to-last game of the season.
COACH — Tim Olson, third season
LAST YEAR's RECORD — 1-6 overall, 0-3 in Whitepine League Division II
RETURNING LETTERWINNERS — Tucker Ashmead, sr. WR/DB; Dallen Stapleton, sr., TE/EB; Carl Stanton, sr. OL/DL; Blaine Clark, sr. TB/DB; Dawson Bovard, jr., FB/ILB; TJ Byer, jr., TB/DB; Wyatt Vincent, jr., QB/OLB
8/25 — at Troy, 7 p.m.
9/1 — Kootenai, 7 p.m.
9/8 — Lakeside, 7 p.m.
9/15 — Potlatch, 7 p.m.
9/22 — Timberline, 7 p.m.
10/6 — at Genesee, 7 p.m.
10/13 — at Lewis County, 7 p.m.
10/20 — at Kendrick, 7 p.m.
Strissel may be contacted at (208) 848-2258, email@example.com or on Twitter @mbstrissel