Joining the North Star Athletic Association (NSAA) this season, excitement is beginning to build for the Waldorf College football team.
The Warriors jump right into their new conference, opening the season on the road against Mayville State University on Saturday.
“Oftentimes, anything new is going to be exciting,” Waldorf coach Kent Anderson said. “Starting off with a conference game just kind of puts a cap on top of it because it means something right away.”
Mayville State turned in a 7-4 record in 2013. Anderson, who begins his third season at Waldorf, looks for the Comets to present a challenge in the 1 p.m. kickoff at Mayville, N.D.
“They’ve kind of turned their program around,” Anderson said. “They have momentum in their program and that’s where we’re trying to get to.”
Several defensive starters return for Mayville State.
“I expect them to be a veteran team,” Anderson said. “They’re going to have some savvy, they’re going to be experienced and they’re going to have a home crowd.”
The Warriors are aiming to put last year’s one-win season behind them. Not getting beat before plays start, taking care of the basics and playing fundamental football will help them bring down the Comets.
“I think we need to play smart,” Anderson said. “Everybody says that, but it’s so true. We just can’t self-destruct. We can’t be ourselves.”
The Warriors are counting on returners and newcomers to generate success.
Waldorf’s receiving corps will be led by DeKendrick Moncrief. The senior from Prattville, Ala. finished with 223 yards receiving and two touchdowns while averaging 14.9 yards a reception last season. Moncrief will also be a kick returner.
“He’s in great shape and took care of himself over the summer,” Anderson said. “He’ll fill that playmaker mode pretty well.”
“We’re looking for some good things from Dedarius,” Anderson said. “As a true freshman, he’s pushing for the starting spot.”
On the defensive side, senior Jamaar Crayton looks to be a force. The 6-foot-3, 270-pound defensive end recorded 28 tackles and two and a half sacks last season.
“I think those are three really solid players,” Anderson said.
The kicking game will also play a factor thanks to German sophomore Dustin Wilke.
“Our kicking game is going to be vastly improved,” Anderson said. “He’s an outstanding kicker, so field position will be improved just through the kicking game.”
Anderson said Waldorf’s teams have been known for having skill players in the past. Though that continues to hold true, this season’s squad is more balanced.
“We’re going to have more balance than we have in the past,” Anderson said. “Both lines have improved dramatically.”
Set to begin a new season, joining the NSAA as a football-only school provides opportunities for the Warriors. Travel times are reduced, opponents are located in towns similar to Forest City and the league also offers competitive matchups.
“It’s a positive,” Anderson said. “It’s exactly the right step for Waldorf College to go into that conference.”
Every season comes with ups and downs. Learning to weather the storm is what Anderson expects from this year’s team.
“I just want us to be more competitive and hang in there through adversity,” Anderson said. “That shows the program has grown. Without the wins and losses, if we can handle adversity and hang in there when adversity strikes, we’ll improve.”