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Buccaneers rely on familiar players in new spots: Beach ready to return to playoffs with different skilled positions

Press Photo by Royal McGregor Beach senior defensive back Kirby Maus, right, intercepts a pass against Hettinger-Scranton during a 9-man, Region 4 game on Aug. 31 in Beach. In addition to defensive back, Maus will also be the starting quarterback.

After reaching the 9-man playoffs in back-to-back seasons, the Beach football team is looking for history to continue repeating itself.

However, this time around the Buccaneers will have to make the playoffs with a new starting quarterback and different skill-position players on offense.

Though it’s the goal for every team to make the playoffs, Beach head coach Mike Zier wants his players to learn there’s more about football than just wins and losses.

“Every season is new and every team is new,” said Zier, who is in his ninth season as the head coach for Beach. “You got to work together and see what happens. That’s really why I coach. It’s not about wins and losses. To me, it’s about seeing a team on that first day and then seeing them on that last day and see how much they have grown.

“We want to produce productive young citizens. You want them to be successful on the field, but to me I want them to be successful in five to 10 to 20 years from now. It’s about always growing.”

Many coaches in the state have to wait until fall to satisfy that football fever, but the same can’t be said for Zier, who was the head coach for the 9-man West Team during the North Dakota Shrine Bowl. The West Team defeated the 9-man East Team 48-14.

Over the past 29 years, football has taken over Zier’s fall whether it was as a player or coach.

“I’m always excited for football,” Zier said. “I’m kind of hooked. I always look forward to this time of the year and I don’t think that will ever change. It’s just part of my DNA and that’s who I am.”

The Buccaneers have a combined 12-7 record during the past two seasons and made the playoffs both years. Beach was knocked out in the first round of the playoffs by North Star and Towner-Granville-Upham, respectively.

Despite last year’s first-round defeat in the playoffs, Zier said it was an important game for senior starting quarterback Kirby Maus. In the playoff game against TGU, Maus finished with a pair of touchdowns passes. Both were to senior Troy Steele, who is returning as Beach’s tight end.

“It’s typical of high school football in North Dakota that a guy who is going to be your quarterback is going to be on the field somewhere,” Zier said. “It’s typically at wide receiver and that’s the case with Kirby. The nice thing about it is that the last two years, Kirby has filled in either in the end of ball games or last year, for example, started in the playoff game against TGU and he threw for two touchdowns. That’s valuable experience.”

The Buccaneers have three returning starters on the offensive line and tight end. The returning senior linemen are Coy Obrigewitch and Nathan Fischer, while junior lineman Sam Stoveland is also a returning starter. With running backs Tyler Steffen and Anthony Weinreis gone due to graduation, senior Hunter Weinreis will see a majority of the carries.

With Maus moving to quarterback, the wide receiver position is open. Zier said Alex Novotny, Chris Novotny and Brandon Stockwell are vying for time as a receiver.

Beach opens the season hosting Trenton-Trinity Christian on Aug. 26 and then turns around to travel to Hettinger-Scranton on Aug. 30. Zier isn’t happy with playing two games in a span of four days.

“The Tuesday-Saturday stuff, I hate it,” he said. “We talk about kids safety, concussions, staying hydrated and I’m completely on board with it. Then we make kids play Tuesday and Saturday. To me, that’s a conflict of interest and it doesn’t make sense. Everyone has to deal with it and you just hope in that first game that you don’t come out too banged up.”

Beach Buccaneers

Head coach: Mike Zier (ninth season)

Last season: 5-4 (lost in first round of 9-man playoffs)

Returning starters: Kirby Maus, Sr., QB/DB; Coy Obrigewitch, Sr., OL/DL; Nathan Fischer, Sr., OL/DL; Troy Steele, Sr., TE/LB; Hunter Weinreis, Sr., RB, LB; Sam Stoveland, Jr., OL/DL.

Returning letterwinners: Chris Novotny, Sr., WR/DB; Alex Novotny, So., WR/DB; Brandon Stockwell, Jr., WR/DB

Losses: Marshall Nunberg, QB/LB; Tyler Steffen, RB/LB; Anthony Weinreis, RB, LB.

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