By: Mike Still (@mikestill94)
Feature photo: Defensive end Jordan Friesen will look to build upon his Rookie of the Year performance in 2017. Photo by hudl.com.
Over the next month, manitobafootballfeed will be previewing each of the 31 varsity teams battling for supremacy in the Winnipeg High School Football League, which kicks off its regular season on Wednesday, Sept. 5. Below is a breakdown of the Dakota Lancers.
Team: Dakota Lancers
Head Coach: Ray Jarvis, eight year
Conference/Division: Potter Conference, Division 1
2017 Regular Season Record: 5-2
2017 Playoff Record: 2-1 (Lost to St. Paul’s 1 in ANAVETS Bowl)
The Lancers have been a frequent contender in every division they’ve played in under head coach Ray Jarvis, who started the program from scratch eight years ago. Last season, they made it all the way to the AAA final and will look to make it back in 2018.
Offence: The team’s greatest strength offensively will be their offensive line, according to Jarvis. The experienced group of hoggies, led by senior Jay-Ar Driedger, will “have the ability to help move the ball on the ground.”
In terms of playmakers, expect senior receiver Ethan Danell to have a strong season. He will be complemented by sophomore pass-catcher Matthew Toyne, who had a stellar showing at this summer’s U16 Western Challenge for Team Manitoba.
The biggest question mark for the team will come at quarterback, where senior Aidan Campbell will be asked to fill the big shoes left by current Kamloops Broncos pivot Reid Vankoughnett.
Defence: Despite losing last season’s leading tackler Noah Paulic to the Manitoba Bisons, Dakota’s front seven should still be a major strength. Jarvis describes his defensive line in particular, as “aggressive and athletic.”
The front four will be anchored by last year’s Potter Division Rookie of the Year Jordan Friesen, who had four sacks as a sophomore in 2017. Standing at six-foot-two, 241 pounds, the Team Manitoba U18 and #CFC100 2020 member will be a terror to block coming off of the edge.
The linebacking corps is just as solid, with Josh Ma and Raffaele Caligiuri leading the way. The duo combined for five sacks last season.
The secondary takes the biggest hit for the Lancers, with Nick Conway (Manitoba Bisons), Andreas Kastellanos (Toronto Varsity Blues) and Scott Brakel (Winnipeg Rifles) all off to play at the next level. Expect senior defensive back/receiver Josh Yanchishyn to pick up where the trio left off last year. He had 9.5 tackles and an interception a year ago.
Short and long-term goals: Jarvis’s goals for his team this year are simple. Continue to be competitive in division 1, while ideally returning to the finals at year’s end.