It’s a new era for football in Hettinger County

New England, Mott-Regent set to co-op in 2017

By COLE BENZ | Herald Editor
cbenz@countrymedia.net

It’s a new beginning on the gridiron for two schools.

With the end of the football season nearing, Mott-Regent and New England will embark on a new football co-op for the 2017 season. New England was denied an emergency co-op for 2016, and spent a final year with Dickinson Trinity. The two schools have been teaming up for football for over a decade.

When talks began in February, Mott-Regent was very receptive of the potential co-op with their fellow Hettinger County school, and those feelings haven’t dissolved.

“They want us over there, I think they will pretty much work with us no matter what,” New England Activities Director Daryl Jung said. “I think we have a good feeling going in there right now.”

Mott-Regent’s Activities Director, and current Wildfire co-head coach, Nate Zachmann, echoed those sentiments.

“I know they have talented kids, athletic kids, strong kids,” Zachmann said. “I think it’s going to be a good relationship.”

Jung admitted there will be some adjustments going from playing in the 11-man division to playing in the 9-man division, but also said the opportunity to get on the field should be greater.

“We want to be able to give our kids an opportunity to play,” Jung said. “That’s our main goal, is to make sure that they all get a chance to play.”

Jung said he anticipates an increase in participation with the new co-op, because of that increased opportunity.

Zachmann said he’s excited to have a team with better depth. The Wildfire started the season with just 18 players, and injuries decimated their team as the season progressed. During one game, Mott-Regent competed with just nine healthy players.

But he also looks at the in athletes as an opportunity to increase the competition, especially during practices, where at one point he himself was operating out of the quarterback position for the scout team.

Though they would have liked to see the co-op start last year, when the conversation started the Mott-Regent School District tried to stay out of much of the discussion, because it was between two other schools.

“[We] didn’t want to step over bounds at all,” Zachmann said.

After it was officially denied, he said they just moved on and prepared for their season.

But now that it will be starting next year, the first thing Zachmann said he wants to do is establish trust, with both the athletes and their parents.

“The thing that we have to do, is build trust,” he said. “I need the players and parents to know that they can trust me as a coach, and that they’re going to come to a place where doing things the right way is put before winning.”

The two school boards will hold a joint meeting in the near future, though that meeting has yet to be scheduled. During the meeting, Jung said hopefully the logistics will worked out, like practice locations and transportation schedules. Zachmann told the Herald that he wants to get things going as soon as possible, because the earlier the co-op starts to work together, the better off the team will be. He said he will introduce himself soon, because he doesn’t want to show up for the first practice next year without knowing anyone.

“I want to go over to New England to introduce myself to players, and parents as well,” Zachmann said. “It’s just a good way to get things started.”

Zachmann was in his first year as co-head coach with Ron Benson. Benson isn’t going to make a decision on his own future yet, but if he’s back the co-head coaching will continue.

The region will also see some shuffling. Bowman County will be competing in 11-man football, and Killdeer was anticipated to move down to 9-man, but they opted not to move.

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