By Al Zipsie

The NUIC begins it's football season August 24th with two teams in the NUIC Upstate for the final season. Polo and Warren will be leaving after this season. Warren to join a two year Coop agreement with Blackhawk High School in South Wayne, WI. Polo will be going to eight-man football.

Lena-Winslow is the favorite to win the NUIC Northwest as they hope to defend their state championship. Despite all the success of the NUIC at state, the Panthers are hoping to become the first to win back to back state championships. Stockton was runner-up in 1977 before winning it in 78. Milledgeville, Orangeville, and Stockton should battle it out for the NUIC Upstate title.

NUIC Northwest

Lena-Winslow. Coach Ric Arand.

To repeat as state champs they are led by seniors Ian Kuehl and Parker Magee and juniors Isaiah Bruce and Sean Ormiston. The Panthers will have what should be the best defensive line in the state with Bruce and Magee at ends and Kuehl at tackle. On offense, Ormiston will pick up the slack left by all-state running back Rahveon Valentine. Senior Cade Benson steps in at quarterback with big targets in Bruce and Magee.

 

Dakota. Coach Joe Free.

Seniors looking to make the offense high powered are running backs Trey Engelkens and Aden Cassidy and Carter Drake at receiver. The Indians should be solid on defense with eight returning starters led by Drake a returning all-conference lineman. Defensive backs Cassidy, Evan Riggle and Cade Kloster. At linebacker, Engelkens, Ryan Binger and Josh Clark who will also start at quarterback. And on the line Luke Schwarze. Nolan Lentz who was an all-Conference kicker who also will play end and linebacker.

 

Eastland/Pearl City. Coach Jared McNutt.

Senior running backs Jared and Jayden Kempel who was all-conference first team at running back. The quarterback is Braden Smargiassi with Brock Smargiassi and Lucas Petersen at receivers. Eli Dertz a junior powerlifter should be a force at linebacker with lineman Addison Keltner.

 

Forreston. Coach Kyle Zick.

They lost a lot from the talented teams of the last few years. However, the tradition should stay solid with senior Garrett Baderstscher a running back and all-conference linebacker. Providing some speed to the attack are Evan Kelsey. Evan Mulder and Cailen Davids hope to play a big role. Mitch Heinz will anchor the line.

 

East Dubuque. Terry Breitbach.

Quarterback Jon Breitbach returns for his third year as starting quarterback. He has solid receivers to throw to in all conference returner Layne Boyer and Hunter Sherman and Jackson Bowman at running back. The offensive and defensive lines 8s a question mark.

 

Amboy/LaMoille. Coach Gary Jones.

They will be tested in the opener in a crossover game with Milledgeville. They have struggled since entering the NUIC. Quarterback Hunter Zimmerly could be a bright spot if he can get a supporting cast to help.

 

West Carroll. Coach Matt Leitzen.

They look for some offense from running backs Chance Williams. Kody Scheider an all-conference honorable mention center returns.

 

Durand/Pecatonica. Coach Tyler Hoffman.

The Coop in their second year has Caden Manning and Griffin Mulcahy, who should be on of the best linebackers in the Conference.

 

Galena. Coach Ed Freed.

They hope to bounce back from their first winless season in school history. They will be led by underclassmen in quarterback Henry Anderson, Peyton Bauer at running back and Mitchell Foley in the trenches.

 

NUIC Upstate

Milledgeville. Coach Jason Wroble.

Senior Nate Rahn a two-way first team all-conference running back and linebacker will lead the Missiles who also have running back Carson Boyer, Jack Munz, and lineman Mason McKenna.

 

Orangeville. Coach Jay Doyle.

With lighting problems, the Broncos will play all home games on Saturday afternoon. The team has talent back in running back Garret Rodebaugh and Dalton Lowe and quarterback Carter Kleckler, all-conference tight end Breyton Schofield, lineman Tallon Pelikan and Brandon Raetz.

 

Stockton. Coach Jesse Snyder.

All-Conference running back and linebacker Colin Dvorak will lead the Blackhawks. They have solid ends in Drake Oppold and Drew McGovern, lineman Matt Love and linebacker Chase Rowe.

 

Aquin. Coach Brok Kundert.

They lost a talented senior class. However, they do return Patrick Seas a senior offensive and defensive end. Andrew Bowman, Keegan Koester with Zeke Barr anchoring the line. They have young talent in sophomores William Gustafson who will be the quarterback along with Ty Stykel and Brennan Carlson.

 

River Ridge. Coach Doug Nickolas.

They are hoping for a playoff appearance with quarterback Jacob Speer and an aerial attack with ends Kameron Keley, Drew Kloss and Wyatt Potter along with running back Ben Crist.

 

Polo. Coach Andrew Hofer.

In the last year of 11 man football for the Marcos they have senior all-conference receiver Brady Webb.

 

Ashton/Franklin Center. Coach Brad Winterland.

Ethen Drew and Matt Thompson will lead the young team.

 

Warren. Coach Shawn Teske.

Quarterback Ethan Williams and receiver Garett Williams play in the NUIC for the last season before they head for the Coop with the Wisconsin school next year.