The Hettinger-Scranton Nighthawks football program has a storied past, and first year head coach Jason LeFebre is determined to return them to prominence.
“We had a great program in the past. Nine man football can be frustrating and you are at the mercy of your talent with small class sizes,” said LeFebre. “I want to continue to build on the tradition of success that has been shown by many players who took the field in prior years.”
LeFebre takes over for longtime coach Randy Burwick who retired from coaching football after the 2018 season following two straight three-win campaigns.
While LeFebre may be the new head man, he is familiar with the Hettinger-Scranton program as he has been on staff working with the team for several years. He started as a junior high coach where many players on the Hettinger-Scranton roster today gained their stripes under his leadership.
“This is great,” LeFebre said. “Last years seniors were my first set of seventh graders when I started coaching junior high. It has been great to see them grow up. They pick up everything that I throw at them.”
The Nighthawks will be very young with an abundance of underclassmen on the team, but LeFebre will have 27 players available to use at his discretion -- something that many teams playing 9 man football don’t have.
In addition to being young, Hettinger-Scranton will be familiarizing themselves with new opponents and a new region as Mott-Regent/New England and Beach are two rivals that are the lone recognizable foes on the schedule.
“The expectations are to take a group of guys who are low on varsity experience and coach a mostly young team into some wins and gain some valuable experience along the way to set up for the future,” LeFebre said. “The way our schedule sets up is that we play some familiar foes, and then we move east to play some new schools.”
LeFebre continued, “We obviously want to win every game we play, but we want to come out strong against our traditional region opponents and old rivals.”
Offensively, quarterback Jeran Anderson will work out of a pro-style set, and he will try to spread the ball outside the hashes to his speedy receivers. The running game will rely on a lot of movement pre-snap to discombobulate defenses and open lanes. Mason Defoe and Ty Warbis will be weapons that Anderson will try to use to the offense’s advantage.
Defoe, a running back, thinks that the Nighthawks can use the speed that they have to their advantage.
“Coach LeFebre has done a great job of getting guys in the weight room,” Defoe said. “We have a lot of speed. Our coaching staff will give us the opportunity to excel. Once you can get to the edge of the field and the sideline, then you can get to the pylon pretty quick in a nine man game.”
And getting to the pylon is exactly what the Nighthawks seek to do against regional opponents and a clash with out of state foe Lemmon, South Dakota.
On defense, Hettinger-Scranton’s base personnel will be a 4-3 system. In addition to the four down linemen and linebackers, a single safety and cornerback will have a lot of territory to cover. Most of the time a linebacker will be split out wide to cover the slot receiver.
As is the norm in nine man football, the Nighthawks will utilize mainly man coverage on the backend of the defense.
“There are going to be a lot of different changes with a new coaching staff, but I think it is going to be good changes,” Warbis said. “We have had coach Lefebre since junior high, he does a lot of good things. I just want to play every down as hard as I can and give it all for my team.”