Hardin Northern head coach Travis Rettig said he feels the Polar Bears got over the hump last year after making it to the postseason. This year he hopes the team continue its winning ways and remains confident with a number of top players returning from last year’s squad.
The Polar Bears made it to the playoffs after winning its final game of the season against Waynesfield-Goshen to qualify for the postseason.
“We talked for the last several seasons getting over that hump, getting over that hill,” Rettig said. “We were getting better at 3-7 and 4-6 and it felt like we are there and just needed to take it one step further and those seniors were three and four year starters and they finally developed into the leaders we were looking for and willed us to make it to the playoffs and that is what we are looking to build off this year.”
The Polar Bears return a solid foundation to work with as most of the returners, like their predecessors are three and four year starters. Rettig added this group of seniors show the same leadership skills and team camaraderie that is necessary to develop the younger players into better player.
Back is quarterback Nevin Robson and the versatile Owen Wetherill, who rushed for 1,139 yards and 18 touchdowns and also caught 26 passes for 364 yards and two touchdowns. Also back to bolster the running game is Brock Hipsher.
Also back is four of the five offensive lineman that includes Lance Good, a first-team all-NWCC selection that recorded 22 pancake blocks.
Rettig expects the Polar Bears to run more a 4-wide receiver set this year than last season and adds that there is a battle among the sophomores, juniors and seniors as to who is going to fill those other receiver positions out.
Defensively, Hipsher is the lone linebacker returning so Rettig said there are spots to be filled there and in the secondary Robson and Wetherill return. Brandon Henicle, Mason Roby and Good return on the line.
“They know mistakes are going to happen but being aggressive still and playing fast,” Rettig said. “They hold each other accountable and that is really going to go a long way with the season.”
Rettig added that by making the playoffs last season the team finished on a high note and even though they lost lost in the first round of the playoffs, the team was still feeling good about making the postseason and that has carried into the off season.
“That made them hungry going into the off season and so we had a pretty good off season and the work ethic I have seen from them has been great,” Rettig said.
Even though the Polar Bears bring back some talented experience, there are holes that still need to be filled and without any scrimmages Rettig will be looking for answers to players and positions.
“It really makes those question marks even bigger question marks,” Rettig said. “There are other spots up for grabs and it is kind of hard to evaluate when you are going against your own guys. Week one, without a scrimmage is kind of going to be a trial run for a lot of those positions.”
Rettig adds that the key to another successful campaign in 2020 is to get with some wins and with what he calls an impressive off season is confident the Polar Bears can build on what they accomplished last year.
“I think if we get out of the gates early and take care of business week one, week two, week three and just take it one week at time I think that is a recipe for success,” Rettig said. “They have put in the work.”