There is a familiar face roaming the sidelines for Dakota Valley. Jeff Van Den Hul, who was the Panthers' very first head coach back in 1994, is back as the helm for the Panthers.
Van Den Hul was an assistant three years ago for D-V, and is taking over for Jason Jund, who stepped down following last season. The Panthers finished seven and three and lost in the quarterfinals of the South Dakota state playoffs a year ago. Van Den Hul is excited about being back at his old stomping grounds.
"The opportunity to try and build a successful program, and just getting back out with the boys and having fun again," Van Den Hul said. "It's a good spot to be in. Every year is different, though. You lose athletes, and sometimes it has more to do with what other teams gain and lose and what it is that Dakota Valley gains and loses."
D-V loses several key contributors from last season, including 1,000 yard rusher Tanner Lambert. Among the returners are quarterback Isaac Faldmo and running back Trevor McCabe. The Panther schedule includes five games against teams that made the playoffs in 2012, but the senior duo likes D-V's chances to excel amongst tough competition.
"I think our defense is going to be really good," McCabe said. "We have a whole new system. Our offense is going to be good too. That's also new, but we just have to learn the plays and get everything down and we'll be good by the first game."
"I think we stack up pretty good," Faldmo added. "You have to beat the best to be the best, so I think as long as we keep working hard and then preparing each week for each of the teams we'll be in good shape."
The Panthers open their 2013 campaign at West Central on August 30th. Dakota Valley's first home game is September 6th against Lennox.
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