HARTINGTON — The Hartington Wildcats will open the new football season Friday at Humphrey.
The Cats drew one of only a couple dozen Week Zero games.
Because of the early contest, Hartington High will get a bye week. While most of the other high school football teams in Nebraska will be in action Sept.14, the newly released NSAA schedule gives HPS that night off.
“This is the first time we have played a Week Zero game so preparation is a little harder,” Hartington Coach Blair Kalin said. “They are in the same boat so it will come down to the team that makes fewer mistakes.”
Preparation for this game has been a little different, Kalin said.
“We have been putting a lot of our offense and defensive alignments in very quickly, but we have been stressing fundamentals the most, ” he said.
The only other area team to play this is week is Randolph. The Cardinals will get the new season underway against defending state champion Elgin/Pope John.
Randolph will also have a bye week Sept. 14 due to the early game.
Coach Kalin said his team will square off against a pretty good team this week.
“Humphrey High has had a pretty good team the last couple of years,” Kalin said.
Humphrey finished the 2011 season with a 4-5 record. The Bulldogs are coached this year by former Cedar Catholic assistant Corey Uldrich.
Kalin said the Wildcats may be out-sized in the contest.
“They will have some size that concerns us,” he said.
The Hartington coaching staff is hoping experience and speed make up for any lack of size.
The Cats return six starters on both offense and defense.
Hartington is expected to be led this year by a veteran backfield.
Nick Miller, a three-year starter at quarterback, is back to lead the Cats. He will be joined in the backfield by fellow senior Alec Fuelberth. Fuelberth carried the ball for 896 years on last year’s 5-4 Hartington team. Miller led the aerial attack, throwing for 362 yards. He was also a huge threat to run the ball, as he rushed for 655 yards on the season.
Another senior, Eric Derickson, completes the veteran backfield. He also possesses a lot of speed and ability, Kalin said.
One of Miller’s favorite targets from last season returns. Senior Adam Hochstein caught 10 passes for 163 yards last season and is expected to be a huge threat again this season.
Reece Pedersen returns to anchor the defense. Pedersen led the team in tackles last year, earning All District honors. Miller and Fuelberth also earned All District honors last season.
Hartington will compete in District D1-3 this season. Other teams in the District are: Randolph, Emerson-Hubbard, Allen, Winnebago and Pender.
Most state football prognosticators have tabbed Pender as the team to beat this season. Huskerland Prep Report projects the Pendragons as the District champ with Randolph finishing second and Hartington in third place.