Three 9B - Region 3 Football players to watch as 2022 football season begins

John B. Crane
Devils Lake Journal
The Class B - Region 3 high school football season will officially begin on Aug. 19.

DEVILS LAKE – There it is. 

You might not believe it, but trust me, your eyes see it correctly. That light at the end of the tunnel is, in fact, the start of the 9B high school football season. 

While several storylines stood out at the start of practice when talking about 9B – Region 3 teams, what can we expect to see from Cavalier, Larimore, Midway/Minto, Nelson County and North Border as games officially get underway on Aug. 19? More importantly, what players should high school football fans keep an eye on in particular? 

Here are three players to watch among the 9B – Region 3 ranks as games begin: 

1. Holden Lenz, Wide Receiver/Cornerback, Nelson County 

Although he missed both postseason games the Chargers participated in last season, Lenz still finished the year ranked second on the team in rushing yards (246) and third in receiving yards (271). Lenz's six interceptions, meanwhile, ranked first on the team. Without Garrett Haakenson or Garrett Syverson, Lenz – now a senior – will look to become the go-to No. 1 option on the running and receiving end of the coin. 

It will be tough for Nelson County to replicate its undefeated 2021 regular season run. But should the Chargers wish to run it back, the offense will need to find a new go-to. Lenz might be the player that fits the bill. 

Holden Lenz will look to crank up his offensive and defensive production during the 2022 high school football season.

2. Eric Hoffmann, Quarterback, Larimore 

Hoffmann might not be known as a gunslinger when it comes to throwing the football – in seven games played during the 2021 season, the junior compiled only 18 completions on 63 passing attempts for 230 passing yards, four touchdowns and six interceptions. However, Hoffmann helped supplement the minimal air attack with maximum force on the ground. His 57 carries ranked second on the team last year (running back Tysen Landeis ranked first with 112). Hoffmann's three rushing touchdowns were tied for second on the team (Kolton Moen). Landeis ranked first with eight. 

With the graduations of Landeis and Moen, Hoffmann – now a senior – will need to not only reinforce his role as the signal-caller but take on a more experienced role as a senior rusher. 

If the Polar Bears ever needed more dual-threat capabilities from Hoffmann, now was the time. 

3. Jacob Steele, Running back/Middle Linebacker, Cavalier 

2nd Team All-State in 2020 and 2021 wouldn't begin to explain the luster Steele brings to the gridiron game-to-game basis. On the offensive side, Steele amassed 596 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns during the 2021 campaign. 

And his performance defensive side? Glad you asked. Steele's 170 tackles (40 solo, 130 assisted) led the team. Oh, and just for good measure, he tacked on eight tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery, interception and sack apiece. 

The senior quarterback/wide receiver connection in Sterling Enerson and Landon Carter might bring the spectacle. But Carter's offensive and defensive production might be the dictating factor toward controlling the game's pace in Cavalier's favor. Keep an eye on this. 

Bonus: Tj Cosley. Wide Receiver/Cornerback, North Border 

Cosley's 129.3 all-purpose yards per game (YPG) led the team, not to mention his 20 total touchdowns during the 2021 season. His 704 total yards last season additionally ranked second, behind Jaxen Johnson (822). While the six-man numbers might not fully translate, Cosley will look to build off of a sturdy junior season and help his team adjust to the nine-man football grind that makes up a season. 

Double Bonus: Collin Zacha, Running back/Linebacker, Nelson County 

An up-and-coming junior in Zacha will have a heightened role on both ends of the football field in 2022. After collecting only 42 rushing yards during the 2021 season, expect Zacha to crank it up a notch, especially with the graduations of Haakenson and Isaak Anthony, who combined for 917 rushing yards. With Nelson County's top tackler in Haakenson also no longer on the team (he ranked first on the team with 72 tackles), Zacha (who combined for 60.5 tackles last season) will have an even more significant role there. Six sacks last season also doesn't hurt. 

His plate might be hefty, but there is no denying that Zacha will have the green light to compile more snaps on the offensive and defensive end. The question is how well he capitalizes on them.  

John Crane is a sports/general assignment reporter for the Devils Lake Journal. Feel free to contact John via work phone (701-922-1372), cell phone (701-230-4339), email (jcrane@gannett.com) or Twitter (@johncranesports) with any story ideas.