A 9-2 team a season ago, Newell-Fonda advanced to the second round of postseason action before falling to West Bend-Mallard, 44-26.
The Mustangs return 17 letterwinners from that squad, including seven starters on both sides of the ball. Still, 13-year head coach Brian Wilken isn't about to let his squad rest on their laurels.
"Our outlook is promising on paper," said Wilken, who owns an 86-34 record at the helm of Newell-Fonda. "However, that is just that, on paper. If we are going to be successful this season, we need to stay healthy, get better every day and take care of the football. Our seniors are going to have to lead the way and make plays. I thought we leveled out towards the end of our season last year."
The Mustangs ranked fourth in the class in rushing last year, churning out over 3500 yards and 66TDs on the ground. They figure to match or build on that total with their top three backs all back for 2012. Newell-Fonda rang up 583 points last season, 53 per contest.
Senior Jonathan Johnson led the way with 1064 yards on 134 carries last season. He averaged nearly eight yards a pop and scored 23 times on the ground. Twin brother Rigo added 886 yards and 83 carries with 19 scores. Junior Brady Bohe, who moved to quarterback in a wild cat look for Newell-Fonda late in the year added 1017 yards and 12 scores on 94 carries. Senior Jake Hahn also added 229 yards and 3TDs on 17 carries, Junior Dillon Anderson had 210 yards and 4TDs on 22 carries and senior quarterback Zak Sievers had 142 yards and 5TDs on 40 carries.
Sievers attempted just 93 passes last year but completed half of them for 896 yards and 13TDs to just three interceptions.
Senior Matt Juilfs was the team's leading receiver with 13 grabs for 308 yards and 5TDs. Jonathan Johnson ahd 15 catches for 244 yards and two scores, Dalton Anderson had seven catches for 242 yards and 4TDs and Rigo Johnson had nine catches for 118 yards and three scores.
Up front, the Mustangs have some experienced options to tinker with along the line.
Among those expected to contend for starting spots are seniors Tom Devereaux (180lbs) and Hahn (175) and juniors Shawn Thompson (175), Andrew Temple 175), and Carlos Gonzales (243).
"The big concern I have is our lack of size and can we hold up in a very tough and physical district," said Wilken.
Newell-Fonda yielded just 16 points per contest a year ago and came 24 interceptions and 21 fumble recoveries.
Rigo Johnson led the opportunistic defense with 182 tackles, two picks and five fumble recoveries. Bohe followed with 107 stops, Dalton Anderson had 61 and six picks, Temple 58, Jonathan Johnson 58, four fumble recoveries and four interceptions, Thompson 34, Devereaux 23 and Hahn 20.
Hahn split kicking duties, handling kickoffs and making 8-of-21 PATs. The Mustangs did not attempt a field goal on the season. Bryce Nielsen and Dalton Anderson split punting duties, with each averaging just over 31 per boot.
Return duties were shouldered by Jonathan Johnson on the majority of punts and Dillon Anderson and Johnson on kickoffs.
Newell-Fonda went 6-1 in District play last season, with a late stumble against Kingsley-Pierson spoiling an unbeaten run through league play.
The Mustangs will have a new group of squads to contend with as Remsen-Union (9-2), Kingsley-Pierson (7-3), River Valley (4-6), Remsen St. Mary's (3-6), Spalding Catholic (1-8) and Whiting (1-8) remain in district one while the Mustangs slide over to district two.
Laurens-Marathon (6-5) is the lone league holdover besides N-F from a season ago. Joining them in league action will be Northeast Hamilton (9-1), West Bend-Mallard (10-2), North Iowa (5-5) Graettinger-Terril/Ruthven-Ayrshire (1-5), CWL-Corwith (1-8), CAL Latimer (0-9)
"West Bend-Mallard returns numerous starters off of last year's quarterfinalist team," said Wilken. "North Iowa drops down from Class A and returns just about everybody from their playoff team a year ago."
The Mustangs open play at home on August 24th with Remsen St. Mary's. They visit Kingsley-Pierson week two and North Iowa on September 7t. Northeast Hamilton comes to town the following week. Laurens-Marathon follows on the road, then GT-RA for homecoming, CWL on the road, CAL at home and a regular season finale with West Bend-Mallard on the road.