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  • Hartington-Newcastle’s Shaye Morten runs a drill during the first practice of the season in Hartington Monday. The Wildcats will move down to Class D2 this season and will have a bit of a target on their backs as they have been rated in the Top 10 in the preseason Huskerland Report football poll.

Hartington-Newcastle began football practice

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Hartington-Newcastle began football practice

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HARTINGTON - The Wildcats football team has dropped to Class D2, but return much of their position players from a team that made it to the State Playoffs last year.

Of the 298 points that Hartington-Newcastle scored last year, the team is returning players that scored 286 of those points. 

HNS will have a core of seniors this year that created a dynamic offense last year. Rising seniors Turner Korth, Lincoln McPhillips and Ethan Koch each scored touchdowns last year for the Wildcats.

Koch ran for over 1,000 yards last year, and was a linebacker alongside Korth on defense.

Korth spent time in the backfield as a running back and quarterback, and was also a receiving threat out of the backfield. Korth has also led the team in tackles for the past two years at linebacker.

McPhillips led the team in receiving yards, was a dynamic returner, and protected over top on defense at safety.

When Korth was not quarterback, Shaye Morten took the snaps at QB. Morten and Korth in the backfield at the same time added a unique aspect for defenses to worry about, and expect that to continue this year.

Other seniors that will make an impact are Matt Schram, Austin Burcham, and Michael Mathis. Schram is a wide receiver, while Mathis and Burcham are both lineman that will replace Ryan Koch and Alex Kneifl who both graduated.

Again this year, the one thing that the team lacks is depth. With 16 players, the D2 team will rely on every player to contribute on the field. 

Hartington-Newcastle also has two transfers that will join the team this fall. Brady and Kobe Heitman transferred to HNS from Laurel-Concord-Coleridge in the Spring, and will look to make an impact for the Wildcats. Brady is a junior standing at 5’7” 135 pounds and will play end and safety. He missed last year due to injury. Kobe is a sophomore running back and corner back at 6’ 165 pounds. He started at running back at LCC as a freshman last year.

HNS graduated Koch and Kneifl, who both played on the offensive line, but there are a few players that will be competing for those spots. Seniors Michael Mathis and Austin Burcham will compete with Dylan Dendinger and Wyatt Jacobs for the starting spots on offense and defense. Dendinger started on offense and defense last year, with Jacobs starting at defensive end last year.

Moving down to Class D2, the Wildcats are now in a District with Allen, Bloomfield, Randolph, Wausa, and Wynot. The close proximity of these schools should create a rivalry atmosphere for the District title each week.