Dropping from Class D-1, the Pirates return four starters on defense and three on offense from a playoff team which finished 5-4.
"We lost a large senior class to graduation but also return several key players from last year," says fifth-year E-H head coach Ken Swanson. "Six of the eight teams we have on the schedule were playoff teams last season so we are going to have to earn it every week."
Emerson-Hubbard will compete in the D2-1 district along with Allen, Bancroft-Rosalie, Lyons-Decatur Northeast, Winside and Wynot.
One of four returning starters, senior Michael Collins returns at end for the Pirates.
Foremost among those key returning players is senior running back Nathan Hogan (6-0, 175), who is sort of a supporting role last season still managed to rush for 564 yards and 11 touchdowns and also caught nine passes for 127 yards and another score. He's going to be the team's go-to back but junior Tyler Haberman (5-10, 155) is another option, with senior Samuel Gubbels and junior fullback Austin Ostrand in the mix for carries.
Senior Tanner Haberman is the team's only letterman at quarterback and gets first shot at the start.
Senior Tyler Pallas (5-8, 190) is the lone returning starter in the interior offensive line while senior Michael Collins (6-0, 165) returns at tight end. Senior DJ Gutzmann and junior Gabriel Diaz are among lettermen who could help in the line. Freshman Blake Eriksen is expected to help on both sides of the ball.
Hogan led Emerson-Hubbard in tackles (112) in 2013 and returns at linebacker where Ostrand and Haberman will also be in the mix. Pallas and Collins are returning starters at defensive end with Gutzman and Diaz in line to play on the interior, with juniors Brice Morgan and Tyler Emmons to help round out that unit.
Gubbels is the lone letterman in the secondary.
Shoes to Fill
Emerson-Hubbard will have about the same problem as did Old Mother Hubbard. Gone are leading rusher Chase Mogan, starting quarterback Eric Hansen, defensive leader Travis Emmons and basically the entire line.
Must Step Up
You win with good line play so the development of that unit will be critical, as will establishing a new quarterback while still covering the other skill positions.
It could take a while for things to jell for the Pirates so let's call for three wins.