Bucs a big underdog vs No. 5 North StarHead coach Mike Zier and the rest of the Beach football team embody the underdog mentality.
By: Royal McGregor, The Dickinson Press
Head coach Mike Zier and the rest of the Beach football team embody the underdog mentality.
Heading into the 9-man playoffs, the mentality hasn’t changed.
“They weren’t favored in a lot of games,” Zier said. “There were times when they found a way to win. For us, anything after this point, it’s a double helping of gravy. It’s a cherry on top.”
The Buccaneers travel to No. 5-ranked North Star in the first round of the 9-man playoffs at 1 p.m. Saturday. Beach isn’t unfamiliar with beating ranked opponents. The Buccaneers did so against then No. 5-ranked Shiloh Christian on Oct. 5.
“We know the task is pretty tough,” Zier said. “They (North Star) are a great ball club. They got a lot of height, a lot of speed and I think for our kids, they’ve been really resilient this year.”
Marshall Nunberg leads the charge for Beach. The junior quarterback is 23 of 63 for 554 yards and eight touchdowns. He also has 55 carries for 470 yards and seven TDs.
Along with Nunberg, the other key offensive weapons are junior running backs Tyler Steffen and Anthony Weinreis, senior wide receivers Danny Skoglund and Boston Zachmann. Senior running back Ty Sime continues to see time in the backfield.
“All the guys in the backfield and at the wide receivers are playmakers,” Nunberg said. “I can trust Steffen, Weinreis and Sime to get a first down or those three to four yards that we need.
“Whenever I lay the ball out for Danny and Boston, I have confidence they will catch the ball and make a play.”
Steffen leads the team with 151 carries for 704 yards and nine TDs. Weinreis has been a dual threat with 52 carries for 343 yards and one TD and five catches for 101 yards and three TDs. Sime adds 46 carries for 181 yards and two TDs.
“Marshall and Anthony are a little bit quicker,” Steffen said. “They juke more. I’m more like a bruising back. I like to go up the middle a lot.”
Skoglund has 21 carries for 207 yards and two TDs and 12 catches for 329 yards and four TDs. He also has 378 yards and a 21-yard average on kickoff returns.
“I think it’s a great change of pace when we go from Steffen to Weinreis, who is more of a slasher and a little bit quicker,” Zier said. “If we get Danny Skoglund on a reverse, he’s even quicker. Once he gets going, he’s the fastest guy on the team.”
At the beginning of the season, Zier wasn’t sure who his quarterback was going to be. Zier said Nunberg’s development has mirrored the team’s improvement.
“His biggest progression is to protect the football,” Zier said. “We’re still not there. We still throw a turnover here and there. His progression has been good and it’s matched the team.”
Zier said the team’s biggest strength has been accepting roles, whether a player is out on the field for one series or the entire game.
“If your role is to back up and be on the kickoff team, they are going to do their role to best of their ability,” he said. “That’s hard to find not just with high school kids, but that’s hard to find with anybody.”
“We gel really well,” Steffen added. “There’s a huge difference from the beginning of the season to now.”
The Buccaneers knew the playoffs would be in the picture if everything started to click on all cylinders, but Zier said there have been multiple factors for the successful season.
“We stayed healthy,” Zier said. “Our defense, led by (assistant coach) Dale Peplinski, has been really great and our kids except their role.
“As a coach you strive for that team concept, you hammer and hammer, but when it really happens and it clicks it’s special.”