September 1, 2011 in Sports

NSL story lines

 

The more things change, the more things remain the same in the North Star League.

Since Wallace dropped to 1A Division I 8-man football in 2004, the Miners have earned seven straight state playoff berths.

Kootenai, meanwhile, is seeking a fifth consecutive trip to the state playoffs in Division II.

Wallace could get a stiff challenge from Lakeside. But the defending league-champion Miners, who return league most valuable player Lewey Wilburn (two-way lineman), will benefit from the transfer of senior quarterback Casey McKinnon, a three-year starter at Mullan.

“We’re big and strong up front on both sides of the ball,” Wallace coach Dave Rounds said. “We’ll have multiple offensive and defensive sets. We should be able to run and throw the ball equally well.”

Overall, the Division II teams – Kootenai, Clark Fork and Mullan – should be down. But that could make for some wild, high-scoring games between them.

Returning all-leaguers

Perhaps an odd choice as league MVP as a two-way lineman, Wilburn heads the list of returning all-league players.

Others are: Jeremy Stivers (Lakeside), Stillman Berkley (Clark Fork), Lamont Higgins (Lakeside), Brandon Carman (Kootenai) and Kidman Cook (Wallace).

Outlook

Eight-man schools generally struggle with numbers, and it’s no different for Kootenai, Clark Fork and Mullan.

Kootenai has 21 players, Clark Fork has 13 and Mullan 11. Of Clark Fork’s 13, nine are freshmen and sophomores. Of Mullan’s 11, five are freshmen and four are sophomores.

Mullan lost a key player, three-year starting quarterback McKinnon, who transferred to Wallace. “We’re awfully young, but we have a lot to build upon,” first-year coach Stetson Spooner said. “We have to keep the kids healthy.”

With the addition of McKinnon, Wallace will have three proven quarterbacks. Rounds plans to start McKinnon, but he can turn to seniors Tyler Beard and Gavin Rasmussen, both of whom played last year.

1. Wallace

2. Lakeside

3. Kootenai

4. Clark Fork

5. Mullan


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