Just like a year ago, Dike-New Hartford faces the difficult task of replacing several key players who led the Wolverines to the state semifinals.The biggest hurdles for Coach Don Betts' team are an inexperienced defense and replacingIowa's all-time leading rusher Trent Johnson, who graduated.

2017 SEASON PROSPECTUS: DIKE-NEW HARTFORD WOLVERINES

2016 RECORD: 9-3 Overall / 7-0 District
2016 PLAYOFFS: Class-2A State Semifinalist

HEAD COACH: Don Betts
School Record (Years): 84-30 (10)
Career Record (Years): 85-46 (11)

2016 STARTERS RETURNING (9):
Chase Arends, OL/DL
Owen Goos, OL
Daniel Graves, OL
Cade Fuller, QB - 52 completions, 84 attempts, 797 yards, 9 TDs, 6 INTs
Isaac Jorgensen, K
Jake Landphair, LB - 75 tackles
Ryan Moore, DB
Chase Wilson, DL
Ben Freese, DB

OTHER 2016 LETTERWINNERS RETURNING (3):
Colton Harberts, OL/DL
Clayton Wright, OL/DL
Mason Dietrick, OL/DL
Garrett Kobringer, OL/DL
Ely Sohn, WR/DB
Tim Koop, WR/DB
Grant Bixby, WR/DB
Drew Sonnenberg, QB/LB
Cade Bennett, RB/LB
Noah Epley, RB/LB
Nathan Graves, OL/LB

KEY LOSSES FROM 2016 SEASON:
The Wolverines must replace several key players that led them deep into the playoffs in 2016. While graduation cost Dike-New Hartford most of its top defensive players, the biggest impact commencement had on the team was at running back. The Wolverines must find a way to fill the void left by departing senior Trent Johnson, who ran for more than 2,000 yards each of the last three seasons while setting the state's all-time rushing record totaling 7,653 yards.

HOW COACH BETTS VIEWS UPCOMING SEASON

Team Strength Entering 2017:
Athleticism, Offensive Line.

Concerns Heading Into 2017:
Inexperience, Depth, Youth.

Offensive Focus:
"Offensively, we return three offensive linemen and our quarterback, which is a good place to start building. We feel our skill players are very athletic and we will be able to use our athleticism to build our offense around."

Defensive Focus:
"Defensively we are very inexperienced. Our defensive line returns no starters, but several players gained playing experience last year. We feel we have some good options at linebacker. We will field a very athletic secondary."

Class-2A, District 3 Outlook For 2017:
"I think our district is wide open this year. Several teams will be in the hunt this year. Roland-Story and West Marshall should both be very solid. Aplington-Parkersburg and Dike-New Hartford will also be in the hunt for playoff spots, I believe. Saydel returns a very talented quarterback and running back with a new coaching staff and could be the surprise. East Marshall returns many starters and will be much improved. South Hardin lost a ton to graduation and also has a new coaching staff."

Note: After the 2016 season, Collins-Maxwell/Baxter ended a 29-year-old whole-grade sharing agreement that began in 1988-89. Therefore, seven teams will battle for the district title in 2017 instead of eight. Collins-Maxwell and Baxter will compete as separate 8-player teams this season, but neither will be eligible for the playoffs.

Expectations For 2017 Season:
"We think we can be very competitive this season. We will be extremely young, with only 6 seniors on the team, but we feel our young players have a ton of potential. Team depth will need to be developed early for us to compete throughout the season."