Western Nebraska Observer - Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

By Stephen McKay
Sidney Sun-Telegraph 

Fall Sports: Coyotes return 'core,' eye second straight playoff berth


John Verser

Members of the 2015 Potter-Dix football team, pictured front row, from left, are: Connor Williams, Dylan Nielsen, Noah Nelson, Michael Steele, Nathan Robinson and J.T. Herboldsheimer. Pictured, back row, from left, are: Justice Palmer, Kelsey Rozelle, Coby Hicks, Aaron Crawford, Keveret Rusk and Cole Christensen. Not pictured: Tyrus Gawith and Travis Garlach.

After a solid 2014 season, which ended with a playoff berth, the Coyotes again hope to find the right touch despite the loss of several key players.

"I think we have a good core of kids coming back so I don't think there will be much of a drop off," said head coach Dale Frerichs. "We'll be different though, because the seniors we lost provided certain things and the returning guys will provide something a little different."

Potter-Dix finished the regular season in District D2-10 with a mark of 5-3 before falling to Paxton in the opening round of the playoffs. All of the five graduates off the 2014 roster played in every game including starting quarterback Cameron Purcell. The other graduates include Jake Johnson, Cooper Hicks, Sammie Gingerich and Zac Gotfrey - all of whom made significant contributions.

Stepping in to take over at quarterback will be junior Noah Nelson. Nelson was largely a running back last season and took just a few snaps under center. As the back-up to Purcell last year, however, he gained plenty of practice time.

"I played quarterback in junior high quite a bit and went to Lincoln's Big Red quarterback camp last year, so I think I've learned a lot and feel ready to help us win," said Nelson. "I know I can throw accurately and can find guys that are open."

As for his targets, Nelson will be looking most often for Coby Hicks, Cole Christensen and Kelsey Rozelle - all seniors. Hicks was second on the team with 18 receptions last season, going for 230 yards and five touchdowns. Rozelle caught 11 passes for 263 yards and four scores. Christensen, a senior who did not play last season, is a big, athletic target who should help make up for the loss of Johnson.

Rozelle, a state placed sprinter, will likely see the most carries out of the backfield. He led the team with 554 yards on 91 carries. He also topped the team in yards-per-rush with 6.1.

On defense, the Coyotes will have to make up for the loss of more than 300 tackles accumulated by Cooper Hicks, Johnson and Gingerich. Part the answer will include Nelson, who had 90 tackles while patrolling the defensive backfield. He also led the team with eight interceptions. Coby Hicks brought down nearly 100 enemy ball carriers and had 3.5 sacks. Line play will include returner Keveret Rusk, who played in every game in 2014 and had 37 tackles.

The Coyotes open the season with two straight at home, hosting Morrill Sept. 4 and Caliche, Colo., on Sept. 11.


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