In August 2021, the big question on the mind of Oakes head football coach Greg Dobitz was:
Who will replace Garrett Meehl?
Now, a year later, the head coach has replaced the 2020 All-Stater, but a few more questions have arisen over the past 52 weeks.
Such is the life of a high school head coach.
“I think a lot of our questions are more direct, on the offensive line and on the defensive line,” Dobitz said. “We have graduated a few good players who have played a lot of good football for us and then replacing David Schmitz’s production will be a challenge.”
Dobitz said Schmitz’s production at running back really carried the Tornadoes to five conference wins. The 2021 player also led the Tornadoes defense and took on the quarterback role when starter Xavier Vossler was injured late in the 2021 season.
Schmitz helped the Tornadoes to a 5-5 season last year, but if all the pieces are in place, Dobitz said he expects the Tornadoes to finish above the .500 mark this season. .
It won’t be easy though.
“It’s kind of daunting to look down our leaderboard and see Kindred there,” Dobitz said. “I don’t know what we can do to beat them – we feel like they are going to be a very, very, very good football team and almost untouchable in our state let alone in our region.”
While the Vikings are the clear favorites in Region 1, Dobitz said the team knows that even though Central Cass has lost a lot of production due to his graduation, the Squirrels will be among the teams fighting for a spot in playoffs.
Based on the roster Dobitz has at his disposal and a strong coaching staff and winning tradition, the head coach said the Tornadoes hope to fight for a No. 2 spot or 3 before the playoffs.
“We’re going to be pretty heavy on the high end,” Dobitz said. “We have a big senior class, we’re going to have a bunch of juniors contributing but we’ll need a few kids to step up and play a few important minutes for us. It’s going to have to happen. We like our mix there with our second year students. and our juniors to kind of fill in what our senior class lacks.”
Joey Heim will be the Tornadoes’ offensive reference this season. Dobitz said the Tornadoes will have to get creative with how they pass the ball to the senior wide receiver because he’ll produce a lot of touchdowns and can cut big chunks of yardage.
Mario Garza and Trey Skoglund will need to be ready to rack up rushing yards on running back. Defensively, the Tornadoes rely on Garza, Marcus Garza, Landon Ptacek and Brogan Roney to protect the ball.
“In high school football, you have to be able to run the football and you have to be able to stop the run or you’re not going to be successful,” Dobitz said. “That’s the #1 goal is to find a way to do this – how can we do this? I wish I could tell you right now, but we’re going to have to start figuring this out (at the start of the season) .”
No matter how the finals go, one thing Dobitz knows for sure is that he has a tradition of winners, hardworking kids and skilled coaches behind him and when all three work in tandem it will make a good season.
“Our junior high coaches are doing a great job, helping us mentally because they’re learning the basics of the system as seventh and eighth graders,” Dobitz said. “Then when they get to high school, they are expected to have to compete and work hard. They know that settling for anything less than their best is not an option. .
“Our children are doing a very good job. They work hard, they study and they understand the game very well.”
Workouts officially began Aug. 4, but before kicking off his 12th season as head coach, Dobitz said a good chunk of the team was weightlifting four days a week. The Tornadoes also made the trip to Valley City State University where the team made an appearance at the Vikings team summer camp.
As soon as the 2022 Legion baseball team ended, Dobitz helped organize 7-on-7 drills where a group of players got together to warm up their arms before the official start of the season.
“It seems like it’s happening very quickly, but I know when that day comes our kids will be itching to go,” Dobitz said.