Holdingford rode an immensely talented senior class to back-to-back Section 6AA titles, including a perfect regular season last fall.
At the forefront of that was Mitch Messman, a four-year starter at quarterback who was equally effective as a runner and a passer.
The Huskers will have a lot of work to do in order to replace Messman, and continue that string of titles, but won’t ease off of their goals because of it.
“We did lose some talented seniors, but the expectations are still very high,” Holdingford head coach Luke Mitchell said. “We want to come to practice and get better each day and the wins and losses will take care of themselves.
“Mitch did a lot of things for our offense, but we feel we have some players who can step up in other areas,” he said. “Austin Gerads will be our new quarterback. He is a senior and has experience in our system. We will rely heavily on our offensive line and running backs to carry the load.”
There may be a learning curve for the offense, but the defense should be set up to succeed right away.
That’s because the heart of the attack remains intact, with senior linebackers Matt Messman, Nathan Brinker and Jake Knettel back.
“We feel our strength is our linebacking corps,” Mitchell said. “We have our three leading tacklers returning from last year. They have a lot of experience and are physical football players.
Messman will also see time at running back and Brinker as an offensive guard, with seniors Jake Langner (guard) and Taylor Nitz (cornerback) also returning as starters.
New players looking to contend for playing time are seniors Gerads (quarterback), Eric Ebnet (center/defensive end), Caelan Dewar (defensive end), Jamey Koetter (wide receiver), Trevor Brown (tight end), Aaron Stanoch (linebacker), Tazz Taflinger (cornerback), Logan Catton (cornerback/wide receiver) and Zach Scott (cornerback), juniors Wyatt Johnson (linebacker/fullback) and Alex Knapp (safety) and sophomore Nolan Prokott (linebacker).
Holdingford is scheduled to open the season at home against St. Cloud Cathedral, Thursday.