Fall Sports Preview 2019

FALL SPORTS

C2

THE NORTH PLATTE TELEGRAPH

FRIDAY, AUGUST 30, 2019

Telegraph file photo

North Platte football players raise their helmets before kickoff during a 2018 game.

Bulldogs look to make strides in 2nd season under Todd Rice

on our serving and return of serve, and trying to be more aggressive in dou- bles,” Hall said. “Our goal is to improve every time we step on the court, have good sportsmanship, a positive attitude, maintain focus in all situations and have fun.” North Platte starts its season today at the Papil- lion-LaVista South Invite. “We want to be at our best at the conference meet and state tournament,” he said. “It’s always a goal to place in the top two at con- ference, and have someone or a doubles team compet- ing at the state meet in the medal rounds.” out of the gate with to- night’s opener at Scotts- bluff. Last season, the Bear- cats went 12-1 and made it all the way to the Class B title game, falling 48-27 to Omaha Skutt Catholic. The Bearcats lose leading rusher Christopher Busby and linebacker and Ne- braska football freshman Garrett Nelson. They slide Judson Hall over to the head coaching spot after previously serving as the offensive coordinator. But, despite all that, Rice believes the Class B No. 2 ranked Bearcats will look and play similarly to last season. “(Hall) has been in their program for a number of years, so I really don’t expect any changes from what they were doing offensively or defensive- ly,” Rice said. “They did lose a lot of key kids, but they have a great senior class. They’re still going to be a strong opponent to open with.

By DEREK NOEHREN dnoehren@nptelegraph.com The 2019 North Platte boys tennis team features a roster light on state experi- ence, but large in size. Bulldog head coach Dale Hall has a 38-person squad with eight returning se- niors, along with a com- bined 22 sophomores and juniors. However, senior Greg Bergeron is the lone Bulldog that’s played at the statemeet. With all of the new faces, Hall has worked with his team on improving funda- mentals so far in practice. “We have been focusing be Caley, who Rice says has made strides over the offseason. Caley will be tasked with leading an offensive group that will features a lot of players in expanded roles. “(Caley) is really our only full-time offensive starter coming back,” Rice said. “He’s had a great summer for us in the weight room and a great summer at camp. He’s re- ally been doing a good job of being more assertive and a vocal leader. I think him having a year of ex- perience is really going to help.” Look for fullback Elliott Purdy, running back Ryan Farley as two players with experience who will get the bulk of the carries, along with Caley. Defensively, Rice re- turns defensive line stal- warts Dalton Lunkwitz, Logan Penner, along with linebackers Gavyn Brau- er Purdy back in the Bull- dog’s 4-4 base alignment. Like last season, North Platte will be tested right

tablish the running game, size and strength of the line of scrimmage is para- mount. “This summer, we had right at 400 grade 7-12 ath- letes involved in our sum- mer program. We also had the number of kids that had perfect attendance and make it to 75 percent or more of the workouts jump from a year ago,” Rice said. “That’s a real good sign of the buy-in from the kids, coaches and parents. For the football team, it’s going to continue to be a case of us trying to catch up in terms of physi- cality on the line of scrim- mage and depth.” While the overall num- bers won’t be as high as some of the bigger Class A schools, Rice hopes to make up some of that in his team’s attitude. “While we don’t have a lot of depth this year, I hope to see our guys play more aggressive and confi- dent,” he said. Guiding the ship at quarterback will again

By DEREK NOEHREN dnoehren@nptelegraph.com North Platte football enters year two in Todd Rice’s second stint as Bull- dogs head coach. Last season Rice in- stalled his triple option, run-heavy system after North Platte had played more of a spread attack under former head coach Bernie Madison. The first-year learning curve was part of a 1-8 season in 2018. This year, with play- ers familiar with the sys- tem and returning senior quarterback Dalton Caley, Rice feels his team is more comfortable. “It starts with the coach- ing staff and trickles down to the players,” Rice said. “I think everyone is more familiar with the termi- nology. It’s been real nice to see that advancement in our program.” Another point of em- phasis for Rice was in the weight room. As Class A’s smallest school in terms of enrollment, as well as a team that wants to es-

Telegraph file photo North Platte quarterback Dalton Caley (17) runs the ball against Omaha Benson during a game in 2018 in North Platte.

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