The 2022 North Union Warriors football team made program history, breaking through and qualifying for the Class A playoffs for the first time in school history, finishing the season with a 5-4 record. With a playoff appearance comes increased expectations for the program entering 2023.
Head Coach Matt Ernster says the team has been focused, having possibly the best offseason he has seen as the head coach.
In order to return to the playoffs this season, the Warriors will need new faces to step up on offense. Gone is running back Bryer Prochniak, who posted back to back seasons of 1200+ yards with 15+ touchdowns. Ernster feels there is a group of players who have patiently been waiting their turn ready to carry the load.
Hagedorn and Laabs, both seniors, combined for 16 total carries last season, a number that is set to increase substantially this season. Quarterback is another position where the Warriors will have a new face after the graduation of duel-threat Carter Morphew. Ernster sees depth at the quarterback position on his roster, with junior Grady Madden poised to take over as the starter.
Ernster expects his quarterbacks to be multidimensional with the ability to take command of the huddle.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Warriors have plenty of returners, several of whom will be asked to play new roles this season.
Senior Colin Rasch recorded 59 total tackles last season, leading the team with 10.5 tackles for loss. Returners Landon Hagedorn, Talan Priester, and Kaden Laabs all recorded 30+ tackles last season.
In order to return to the playoffs, North Union will have to navigate a tough district that features West Hancock, a team that consistently contends for state championships. According to Ernster, the district also features a lot of depth beyond just West Hancock.
Ernster says the standard has been raised for the program going forward.
North Union hosts Okoboji on Friday, August 25th to open the season.