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Area college football preview: Comet players return to their orbit this year

Coach Nathan Chin is looking for a way to turn around Mayville State's football program. This season, it looks like he'll have a little help as the Comets have retained better numbers and have a bigger roster compared to recent seasons.

Coach Nathan Chin is looking for a way to turn around Mayville State's football program. This season, it looks like he'll have a little help as the Comets have retained better numbers and have a bigger roster compared to recent seasons.

Mayville had 107 players enter training camp and the roster now holds 99.

"One thing that stuck out, I was very fortunate as the coaching staff did an outstanding job of recruiting," Chin said. "Our numbers coming into and out of camp . . . it's been a few years since the football team has been able to hold steady numbers."

Last season, the number of Comets was in the low 70s and the year before the mid-60s, Chin said.

"I can't remember quite what our numbers were, but we definitely have a considerable amount more than we have had," he said.

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Mayville has had trouble hanging on to players once they get into the program.

"With all programs you get kids that leave and decide they want to transfer or don't want to play anymore," Chin said. "I think with us, with our lower numbers, it just sticks out more."

Chin is trying to teach the players he has this year the benefits of sticking out the full four or five years in football.

"Getting kids to understand that they have to buy in and stay in, that's what will help turn the program around," he said.

He even had a local pastor come in to speak to the team.

"He was telling a story about a head coach at the Division I level, a very successful coach, who once said those who stay will be champions," Chin said. "And I believe that for a team to grow and build, guys have to stay and buy into the program.

"That's one of the challenges that we face that has progressively gotten better the past couple years."

Things are looking up as Mayville has been increasing its retention rate every year, Chin said.

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Some of those key returners on offense include junior quarterback Jake McLain, senior wide receiever Chris Williams, junior tailback Jon Drees and senior tailback Mitch Schwindt.

The Comets also have three seniors to anchor their defensive line in 6-foot-2, 280-pound Terry Holt, Darrell Reed (6-0, 300) and Kasey Koepplin (6-0, 235).

Holt is the only returner with all-conference honors. He was honorable mention all-conference.

But with a larger-than-usual group comes quite a bit of youth.

"We're really trying to do as little as possible and do it well," Chin said. "We're trying to keep things simple for our young guys."

The Comets finished 1-9 last season and were winless in the Dakota Athletic Conference. Mayville opens its season tonight at home against Minnesota-Crookston.

Northland looking to hold on at crunch time

Northland Community and Technical College had some fourth-quarter struggles last season.

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The Pioneers lost five games by a touchdown or less and three were lost in the final minute of the game.

"We could score points last year, but we had a hard time holding on to the lead," Northland coach Guy Finstrom said. "We've been conditioning harder this year than in the past.

"We let games slip away at the end on us last year, and this year I've been preaching about working harder and being better in the fourth quarter."

The Pioneers had their season opener Aug. 24 in St. Cloud, Minn. against Rochester. The result was a 24-0 loss.

Eighteen of 22 starters in that game were freshmen.

"Watching the film and what we were doing in that game, we made a lot of mental mistakes," Finstrom said. "We blocked the wrong person or had an illegal procedure penalty that would kill drives. We played a lot of freshmen so they were shell-shocked right away."

The Pioneers, who finished 3-6 last season, play their next contest against Central Lakes in Brainerd on Saturday.

Related Topics: FOOTBALLMAYVILLE STATE
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