NE 1B/South story lines
The two-division Northeast 1B League last year had five of eight play-in game participants and ultimately all four quarterfinalists. One of those, Almira/Coulee-Hartline has made five playoff appearances, including a state title in 2007 and last year’s semifinal loss to Cusick. Wilbur-Creston was a quarterfinalist and sophomore-oriented Odessa-Harrington made the playoffs. Look for plenty of fireworks in the division this year.
Outlook: Division is tough
As strong as the division was last year, there was plenty of youth. “Wilbur-Creston has 10 seniors so I think they’ll be pretty tough,” Almira/Coulee-Hartline coach Brandon Walsh said. “Odessa-Harrington will be better. They had a lot of sophomores.” His team brings back four starters who helped thrash Cusick 54-6, before losing to the Panthers in the semifinals. “Our kids are working hard,” Walsh said. “Our first group is good, but we’re young at the back end.”
Players to watch
The backfield tandem of Derek Isaak and Colin Deyarmin makes ACH strong enough. Fellow all-league players Jordan Ping and Brock Streeter bolster the lineup. Wilbur-Creston returns all-league players Hayden Herdrick at running back, Davey Ogle at linebacker and kicker Christian Collins.