ABERDEEN, S.D. (KELO) — Northern State finished right in the middle of the pack in the NSIC last season, just one game over .500. Now, the Wolves are demonstrating a lot of positives, on which to build for the upcoming season.

Northern State finished last season 6-5, and as the record indicates, it was an up-and-down season for the Wolves. They scored more than 30 points five times but were limited to two touchdowns or fewer four times.

“Explosive plays are the name of this game and we did not make enough of them. And when we did, we won those games. You know, we had some big offensive outburst last year and did have some big games, but not enough of them,” Northern State head coach Mike Schmidt said.

Northern saw a big improvement on the defensive side of the ball. After giving up 31.5 points per game in 2021, the Wolves allowed an NSIC-best 17.5 points per contest last season.

“Our improvement from 21 to 22 is one of the best I’ve ever seen in my career. And now it’s going to be exciting to see. Can we can we make it just a little bit better and keep going with that?” Schmidt said.

“We got the talent, the talent’s there now. We just have to go execute. We have to trust our coaches and we have to trust in ourselves that we can go out there with the confidence,” Northern State graduate defensive lineman Ian Marshall said.

That defensive unit is anchored by Ian Marshall, who was named a First Team All-American last season after recording 14 sacks, third most in all of Division II.

“I still feel like I haven’t accomplished anything. I still feel like there’s so much more to prove. I feel like there’s so much more I can accomplish that I maybe missed out on a couple of sacks last year, missed this or missed that, as I just feel like there’s a lot more to my game that I have to show the world,” Marshall said.

“He elevates all of our guys around us, elevates the energy, certainly within the defensive line, but but really all around the entire team,” Schmidt said.

Northern State kicks off the season at Bemidji State on Thursday.