BY DAVE PEDERSEN
It was a sign of how tough going it can be playing football in the Wright County Conference when two of the teams met for the state championship last season.
Hutchinson and Holy Family were two of the four teams to defeat Delano last season before playing for all the marbles. Delano lost to Becker 21-13 in the Section 5 title game.
Coach Merrill Pavlovich enters his 38th season in what he calls a rebuilding year. A main area of concern is having a small senior class and a lack of depth.
The Tigers do have some standout players to lead the way. Toby Hanson returns at quarterback as a 6-foot-3 senior. He has played in three state baseball tournaments and one state basketball event.
Christian Triplett has been moved from tight end of offense to the interior line, going 6-5, 290. Senior Adam Kraft returns as a primary pass receiver, starting for a third season.
Other returning senior starters on offense are 6-6 end Damon Longstreet, 6-2 guard Wyatt Russek, 5-10 guard Ben Jacobs and halfback Jack Nelson.
Newcomers in starting offensive spots include junior Brett Norling at halfback, junior Aaron Wagner at fullback and junior Colton Christiansen at center, plus sophomore tackle Kevin Kneisl, who qualified for the state wrestling tourney last year as a ninth-grader.
Returning starters on defense are Triplett, Kraft, Longstreet, Seth and Brett Norling and Sawyer Thomas.
Newcomers on defense are senior Zach Linden along with seniors Nate Meyer, James Otto, Austin Neisen, Chet Halonen and Brady Miller.
The season opens 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 30 at Dassel-Cokato. The first home game is 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 6 against Annandale. Other home games are against Waconia Sept. 13, Litchfield Oct. 11 and Holy Family Catholic Oct. 16.