This is the second part in Northstar Football News' profiles of teams who might surprise in the 2017 season. Over the course of the 10 days, we will attempt highlight a “sleeper” team from each level that we believe will have a bounce back year this fall after finishing with a .500 or worse record in 2016.
NFN's 2017 5A sleeper: Irondale Knights
2016 Record: 3-7
Returning starters: Brendan White QB/P, Tyheem Cobb T, Daudi Simon T, Aden Price WR, Parker Freiberg RB, Ronnie Trass DT, Eric Ososki LB, Cobb DL, Nick Ellingson DB, Ayrias Sears DB, Josh Apperson LB, Josh Natere DB, Nate Chamberlain DL, Parker Freiberg DB/LB
Irondale returns so many starters from last season that it is hard to see them not taking a step forward in 2017. In 2016 they were inexperienced, and it showed as they got off to a 0-5 start. As the young Knights gained experience, they won three of their final five games – including a playoff game.
On offense when you return your starting quarterback – Brendan White – and both of your offensive tackles – Tyheem Cobb and Daudi Simon – you are off to a good start. If a team can add to that the return nine starters on defense; you have the recipe for a breakout season. Ronney Trass might be one of the best defensive tackles in the Metro. He racked up 91 tackles – an absurd number for an interior lineman. Linebacker Eric Ososki led the team with 95 tackles from the linebacker spot. Cobb will see time on both the offensive and defensive lines and defensive back Ayrias Sears – who has started every game at defensive back since his sophomore year will also see some time in the offensive backfield.
The Knights' schedule looks favorable as well. They likely will be underdogs in their first and last regular season games, but the middle of their schedule is filled with winnable games.
Irondale starts the season at home on Thursday, August 31 against Class AAAAA runner-up Spring Lake Park.