Bowman County must replace an uber talented graduating class from last year helping them win the Class A Region 4 championship and advance to the quarterfinals of the state playoffs. Quarterback Jacob Svihovec, wide receiver Matt Osendorf, linebacker Andew Narum, lineman Nate Boehm, kicker and lineman Jaxson Fischer, guard Dale Skalicky and lineman Mitch Stuber are all gone with Svihovec, Osendorf and Boehm being first-team all-state selections last year. Fischer, Narum and Stuber were second-team all-state in 2019.
In addition to the changes on the field, Nick Walker replaces Todd Frie as head coach.
Walker was on the coaching staff last year as offensive coordinator mitigating a complete overhaul of the program had he been entirely new to Bowman County.
“I don’t think there will be any changes as far as scheme goes. We have lost a lot of good players in the past couple of years,” Walker said. “The ultimate goal right now is to find some guys that can replace the 11 all-state players that we have lost in the last two years.”
Every single game on the Bulldogs schedule this fall will be against region opponents as they had to make a change or two to the schedule recently due to the coronavirus pandemic. They open vs. Heart River on Saturday, Aug. 22 in a non-region game and then they take on Richardton-Taylor-Hebron the next week in another non-region game. They will face off with the Cougars and Raiders twice each this season.
Senior Colby Schaff and junior Brody Headley both split time carrying the rock last fall, and the full expectation is that they will do the same this fall.
Caleb Duffield was an all-state wide receiver in 2018, and while he was hurt for most of 2019, he will be back in full force for his senior season this year.
The biggest concern for the Bulldogs going into the fall may be up front on both sides of the ball due to attrition and losing talented players.
“We have some guys that are going to give it their best to fill those roles. Jacob being a two-time all-state player quarterback and with Matt catching 56 balls last year, you aren’t going to replace that production…,” Walker said. “We have some options at quarterback that we think can step in and run our offense efficiently. First and foremost, we have to fortify our front. We have to find some answers in the offensive and defensive lines... Those (positions) have been hit the hardest due to graduation over the last few years.”
Brady Senn, a returning defensive linemen, will be one of the key players that Walker hopes takes the next step to replace lost production.
Walker believes that overall, one of the Bulldogs team strengths will be team speed and their athleticism, while something they will have to manage is depth, just like every other Class A school.
“We are all the same boat in Class A football,” he said. “No one is going to have a completely full two-deep depth chart, but we are going to find some kids that when we need them to play, they can come in and get some snaps.”
Another strength is that desire to play and play hard on every snap, Walker says.
The coaches and team know the situation at hand in the United States with the coronavirus pandemic, and they have been thankful for the opportunity at hand.
“In the state that the United States is in right now, we just have to be thankful that we are getting time on the field. From a kid’s perspective, they need to worry about what they can control and that is their effort in practice and getting prepared,” Walker said. “They need to take advantage of every opportunity they get. We have some talented seniors in the region that are probably going to put their talents out there for college coaches to watch. They need to focus on the process of what am I putting on film? When you look at it from that standpoint, as long as they play hard and are doing the right things, they will get noticed.”
No matter the roadblocks or obstacles over the coming months on the field and off the field due to COVID-19, Walker says they will keep pushing forward.