The Hettinger-Scranton Night Hawks begin the 2016 season without six key players who were prominent in taking the 2015 team one game from the state championship game.
By SHELDON CHRISTENSON
For The Record
The Hettinger-Scranton Night Hawks begin the 2016 season without six key players who were prominent in taking the 2015 team one game from the state championship game. That included two who made the 9-Man All-State team, and one who was on the second team. The other three were also starters.
They do return a team of experienced players who were undefeated in junior varsity games last season. That includes 11 seniors, and a promising sophomore class. One of the returning seniors who missed last season due to a knee injury is talented Nevan Weaver. He will help on both the offensive and defensive line along as fullback as head coach Randy Burwick feels necessary.
They opened the season with an important 54-44 win over a strong Region 1 team in Wyndmere-Lidgerwood in the Bye Week Bowl at Shiloh. Coach Burwick was happy with resiliency of the team but realizes the defense needs fine tuning. But he feels with time they will continue to improve.
The offense has two quarterback prospects in senior Hudson Pierce and sophomore Jaxon Mellmer. Mellmer started the opening game with Pierce at running back. They only attempted three passes as their running game, led by junior Isaiah Kludt and Pierce, did the bulk of the work. Kludt really stepped up in that game as he scored six times and ran for 368 yards while Pierce added 104 rushing yards. With the speedy Kludt, the Night Hawks are capable of scoring from any place on the field.
Burwick stated that, “We will have a few new starters that are going to have to learn to play as one unit. Skilled players will have to get better.”
Some other key players are seniors Jordan Dilse, Damon Cornelius, Seth Olson, Andrew Sulzman, Seth Ehlers, Alec Andress, junior Ethan Dupper, sophomores Kyle Burwick, Jacob Dix, Mack Buckmier and Reece Williams. They have a roster of 35.
Last season they went 5-1 in region play to finish in first place and were 8-3 overall. They won their first two playoff games and lost to North Prairie in the semi-finals by a 20-8 score.
Burwick’s overall coaching record is 50-69 and has been the with the program since 2003. His assistants are Larry Tibor, Jason LeFebre and Rob Warbis.