Linton-HMB ready to roll: Veteran coach Dan Imdieke closing in on 300 career victoriesIt’s impossible to sidestep the words tradition and success when discussing Linton-HMB football. The team hasn’t lost a Class A Region 1 game in the regular season since 2008. That was a seven-point loss to Lisbon prior to the Broncos being bumped up to Class AA.
By: Michael Savaloja, The Jamestown Sun
It’s impossible to sidestep the words tradition and success when discussing Linton-HMB football.
The team hasn’t lost a Class A Region 1 game in the regular season since 2008. That was a seven-point loss to Lisbon prior to the Broncos being bumped up to Class AA.
Linton-HMB did, however, go on to win the region title — the first of four consecutive heading into this fall — en route to a pair of state Class A championship game appearances over the last four years.
The team has amassed a sparkling record of 36-7 over that span, and the man behind all that success is 37-year coaching veteran Dan Imdieke.
Imdieke has guided the Lions to five state titles and a whopping 20 region championships, piling up a career record of 298-69. That’s winning a football game over 81 percent of the time.
The Lions have been averaging nine wins per season during this most recent rash of Region 1 dominance, which means the odds of the Lions handing Imdieke career victory No. 300 this fall appears to be a pretty safe bet.
“You’ve got to be lying to yourself if it’s not an exciting plateau to hit,” Imdieke said. “But I’ve seen a lot of people sit on 298 and 299 for a long time, so I don’t want to make it too big of a deal.
“It’s exciting, but a lot of people deserve a lot of credit for that,” Imdieke added. “All the great assistants I’ve had over the years, and I always like to go back to the parents. Sometimes I don’t think they get enough credit. You’ve got to have good families, a good strong base for these kids, and we get that from a lot of families down here.”
The Lions won 10 straight contests last year before falling to Stanley-Powers Lake in the state Class A title game and finishing the season with a record of 10-2. The team’s 2012 campaign shows enough promise to provide further excitement.
“My big saying this season is I hope we didn’t use all our luck up last year,” Imdieke said. “We’re excited about the team. We’ve got nice numbers out and they’ve got good enthusiasm.
“The big question is anytime you are replacing a quarterback of the caliber we had last year, you wonder how well you do and how well the kids will step up.”
The man the coach was referring to was Tanner Purintun, who completed 88 of 161 passes for 1,388 yards and 14 touchdowns, while rushing for 497 yards and eight scores. He also garnered first-team all-state accolades in the defensive secondary at cornerback (8 interceptions).
Junior Brooks Flyberg is the leading candidate to direct the Lions’ offense from under center this fall. In very limited action as a sophomore, he completed three of 10 passes for 23 yards.
“Brooks is going to be our No. 1 guy,” Imdieke said. “He’s a good athlete. He’s just got to get game experience with the big boys, and he’ll do just fine if everyone does their job around him.”
Imdieke said the team will be looking for some explosiveness from its running backs. At 180-pounds, junior Mike Oien will be a bruiser from the fullback position, while 165-pound senior Brock Nagel is being moved from fullback to tailback.
Nagel rushed for 417 yards and four scores last year, while hauling in 15 passes for 252 yards.
“I think if we can get (Oien) into the secondary or into the linebackers, he could punish some people,” Imdieke said. “(Nagel) is an awfully intelligent young man and can find the seams. I don’t know if we have any stars this year, just a bunch of good athletes that hopefully step up and play as a team.
“That’s how we need to beat people. Not by out-powering teams, but by just playing good all-around football.”
Seniors Ethan Roemmich and Clay Jacob will be anchoring the lines for the Lions. Both listed at 180 pounds, Roemmich (39) and Jacob (108) combined for 147 tackles last season.
Other notables returning include senior receiver and defensive back Travis Baumiller and junior ends Jordan Gross and Al Gefroh.
One thing the Lions will be counting on for sure to win games again this season is solid defense. It’s part of the team’s tradition as they allowed an average of just 11.6 points per game — while pitching a pair of shutouts — in eight regular season games last season.
“I always like to think our defense will step, and especially early,” Imdieke said. “We take a lot of pride in playing defensively, and we like to fly around and hit people.”
Linton-HMB opens its season with a game at Mobridge-Pollock, S.D., on Friday, before beginning its region schedule against Oakes and Milnor-North Sargent in the following weeks.
The Lions fell to Mobridge-Pollock 26-16 in last year’s season-opener.
“We know (Mobridge-Pollock) are big up front with nice speed, which is pretty typical of what we’ve seen from them the last few years,” Imdieke said. “We’ve had some awesome games with them … win or lose it’s a great way to start out the season.”
Will the Lions pick up region title No. 21 under Imdieke this season? The coach isn’t saying.
“I think we play the favorites right from the get go. I’ve got to go with Oakes,” Imdieke said. “I’ve been picking Oakes to come out and be the team to in the region. They’re rugged, with some stud wrestlers on that team.
“Then you have to think about Milnor-North Sargent as a favorite. They were in the state title game two years ago,” Imdieke added. “Those are the two teams that I think will be the favorite in the region.”
Sun sports writer Michael Savaloja can be reached at (701) 952-8461 or by email at email@example.com