GLYNDON, Minn. — Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton senior offensive lineman Carter Steen encapsulates this football season for the Rebels perfectly.
Steen was 6-foot-1 and 175 pounds on a good day last season. He's 6-2 and nearing 210 pounds this season. His max bench press, power clean and squat adds up to 1,050 pounds. That's best on the Rebels with 800 pounds being second.
The Rebels have grown and they are ready to win a section championship.
"We should definitely be contending for a section title, barring any injuries," D-G-F coach Anthony Soderberg said.
D-G-F has fallen in the Minnesota Class 3A, Section 8 semifinals the last two seasons. The Rebels had won four straight section titles before the last two seasons.
The Rebels were 5-5 last season, their first non-winning season since 2012.
"If you go back two years, that Pequot Lakes team was damn good," Soderberg said. "We beat those kids two years prior and they were all back and all starters. For us, we had a nice group of seniors, but didn't have that small class support. Last year, we didn't have many seniors, but we had a lot of juniors."
Senior Aiden Leach returns for his third season starting at quarterback. He was doing a lot of running last year, as the offensive line was made of five juniors with no varsity experience.
"He throws a nice ball and makes a lot of good decisions," Soderberg said. "He's a gamer, he's an athlete, good head on his shoulders. We asked him to do a lot for us last year, a lot more than we would've liked to. We can kind of ease responsibilities on him a little bit and rely on different aspects of what we do this year. There were quite a few plays where he was running around and getting chased last year."
The Rebels offensive line doesn't plan on letting that happen. All of those juniors on the line from last season are back. Soderberg estimated last season the D-G-F offensive lineman were somewhere between 25 and 40 pounds smaller than the opposing defensive lineman they were going against.
"We had five lineman that probably averaged about 180 pounds across the board last year," Soderberg said. "This year, we got some bigger kids."
Tristen Olson, Levi Skjerven, Carter Schmidt, Ben Edeen and Steen were on the offensive line last season for the Rebels. They are all back. Edeen will move to tight end and a junior has taken over a starting spot on the line, but the Rebels have options to rotate.
"We have depth," Soderberg said. "That's high school sports. Some years it's feast and some years it's famine. You can't replace a kid with a kid who isn't there. Last year, we had five juniors and two sophomores for the line. Now, we basically have 10 kids. We have a starting five and five backups who are pretty much legitimately ready to play."
The Rebels have their entire offensive line, two running backs and quarterback returning on the offensive side of the ball, while the defense lost two defensive ends, a linebacker and a cornerback. They have 14 returning starters, one of which played both sides of the ball.
"We didn't have a lot of seniors," Soderberg said. "It's hard to win with all juniors, let alone having juniors going both ways. We got a lot of experience this year."
Senior Carter Kohler and junior Justin Wang will be the running backs for the Rebels, while Cade Sogge will play fullback. Sogge and Steen will play linebacker on defense, while junior Preston Johnson will be available to give them breaks.
"It's tough to win a section title when you don't have the kids," Soderberg said. "You gotta have the players and the numbers. This year, we definitely feel like we have that. We have 20 seniors and 14 of them started last year. We got some juniors that we can plug in and allow someone to play one way and support that group. We got experience and that's key."
Aug. 30: vs. Hawley, 7 p.m.
Sept. 6: at Fergus Falls, 7 p.m.
Sept. 13: vs. Pequot Lakes, 7 p.m.
Sept. 20: at Thief River Falls, 6 p.m.
Sept. 27: vs. Perham, 7 p.m.
Oct. 4: vs. Detroit Lakes, 7 p.m.
Oct. 11: at Park Rapids, 7 p.m.
Oct. 16: at East Grand Forks, 6 p.m.