(KMAland) -- This was supposed to be a Corner Conference volleyball preview, but as I sat down to write it on Wednesday evening, QuikStats was down on the volleyball side. So, instead you will get another football look. It’s Class 2A District 9 coming right up.
FALL PREVIEW LINKS
FOOTBALL: Class 8-Man District 7
FOOTBALL: Class A District 10
FOOTBALL: Class 1A District 9
VOLLEYBALL: Hawkeye Ten Conference
VOLLEYBALL: Western Iowa Conference
MARTIN BLOG FALL PREVIEW NO. 6 -- CLASS 2A DISTRICT 9
Atlantic Trojans — 2018 Record: 4-5 overall, 2-3 district
Coach: Mike McDermott
OVERVIEW: An 11-person senior class finished strong last season with a pair of 21-point wins. Now, the incoming seniors should be somewhere around 13 with a very large junior class (22ish).
OFFENSE: One Mullenix (Chase) is gone, but it appears another - Collin Mullenix - will take over the quarterback spot for him. Mullenix will have a terrific dual-threat standout senior in Tyler Moen to turn to. Coen had 416 yards rushing and 378 receiving while accounting for 10 offensive touchdowns. Junior Bodie Johnson could also see some time as an offensive producer.
DEFENSE: Johnson, meanwhile, is coming off a terrific defensive season as a sophomore, finishing with 35 solos, 46.5 total tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss. Moen (39 tackles, 2 INT), junior Joe Weaver (35 tackles), Mullenix (24 tackles), senior Cale Roller (20 tackles, 5 TFL, 2 sacks) and senior Brody O’Brien (9 tackles, 3 TFL) are other standout returnees on what could be a pretty salty defense.
CONCLUSION: You have to feel pretty good about having somewhere around 35 seniors and juniors back in the fold. Despite losing (Chase) Mullenix and a few other strong seniors, the Trojans are trending up and could very well see an improvement in the win column this season.
Greene County Rams — 2018 Record: 8-2 overall, 4-1 district
Coach: Caden Duncan
OVERVIEW: Last year’s success was maybe a year ahead of schedule. Now, after losing 10 players from the 2019 class, there are potentially 19 seniors on this year’s team. And they are very, very talented. They’ll be supplemented by what figures to be a junior class around 10-11 players, including several big guys that could help on the lines.
OFFENSE: Senior quarterback Brent Riley threw 22 touchdowns and for 2,242 yards last season, including 36 receptions for 800 yards and seven touchdowns to senior Carter Morton. Seniors Will Hansen, Xavier Hayes and Tyler Teeples combined on 19 receptions last year and will likely be asked to step into bigger receiving roles this season. In the backfield, senior Colby Kafer takes over the primary role from the graduated Clint Dennhardt. Kafer had 776 yards rushing and eight touchdowns last year (plus 9 receptions for 173 yards and two more scores). Of course, we can’t continue without mentioning Iowa State commit, the mammoth Tyler Miller, who leads the way on the line.
DEFENSE: Senior Nick Breon was one of the top defensive players in the district last season, finishing with 64 tackles, 23.5 for loss and five sacks. Hansen also wreaked havoc with 19 tackles for loss and four sacks among his 51.5 tackles. Morton (32 tackles, 3 TFL, 3 INT), Miller (25.5 tackles, 8.5 TFL, 2.5 sacks), Hayes (22.5 tackles) and fellow senior Joe Patterson (13 tackles, 3.5 TFL) are other standout contributors returning to the fold.
CONCLUSION: The Rams tied for the district championship last year, and they have the pieces returning to make it an outright title in 2019. Of course, the team they tied with might have something to say about that. Speaking of…
Kuemper Catholic Knights — 2018 Record: 5-5 overall, 4-1 district
Coach: Chad Klein
OVERVIEW: The Knights lost another solid senior class that was 17 strong. And they bring back another group that will be over 20. There were 22 juniors on the roster last season, and they’ll count on many of them (and more) to lead Kuemper back to the playoffs in 2019.
OFFENSE: One of those seniors is quarterback Cole Collison, who had a fine season with 1,262 yard passing and 14 touchdowns a year ago. He also supplemented the offense with some running ability (188 yards, 2 TD), but this year’s ground game likely will be in the hands of senior Kyle Berg. He is primed for a big breakout season after 261 yards on 53 carries last season. Collison’s top six receivers are gone, but Berg (4 receptions, 60 yards), senior Tre Knobbe (1 reception, 12 yards) and junior Jake Hugeback (2 receptions, 7 yards) do have a little experience in catching the football on Friday nights.
DEFENSE: One of Kuemper’s best ballhawks in quite some time - Kyle Snyder - has graduated. So have two of the other three top tacklers from last year. Berg will be one of the leaders of this year’s D after going for 43 tackles, seven tackles for loss and four sacks. Nebraska commit Blaise Gunnerson is a monster that has a lot of pent up aggression waiting to be unleashed after sitting out last season with an injury. He’s likely an unblockable force in this league. Senior James DeBolt (30.5 tackles, 8 TFL, 3 sacks) had a great season last year while fellow senior Jacob Heitshusen (30.5 tackles, 4.5 TL, 3.5 sacks) and junior Chad Martin (10.5 tackles, 2 TFL) are also returning to the mix.
CONCLUSION: Collison and Berg will lead the offense, and with Gunnerson getting a chance to get back on the field the defense should also be a strength for the Knights. I think we’re all looking forward to Week 6 and that big Kuemper/Greene County (Gunnerson/Miller) showdown. That one could very well decide the district title. But there’s another team that might have something to say about that…
OA-BCIG Falcons — 2018 Record: 7-3 overall, 3-2 district
Coach: Larry Allen
OVERVIEW: The Falcons nearly nabbed a district championship of their own last year, and they did it with a small seven-person senior class. They did make it into the playoffs with one of the wild cards. Of course, that senior class included a monster at quarterback, which we’ll get to in a bit. This year’s seniors should be 13 strong while 11 juniors are also expected to return to the fold.
OFFENSE: I mentioned last year’s quarterback - Kaden Ludwig. He threw for over 3,000 yards, and they’ll have to find a new guy there. I can’t even begin to speculate on it, but whomever it is will have a star receiver in junior Cooper Dejean, who had 66 grabs for 1,023 yards and 12 touchdowns. Senior Jake Nieman (43 receptions, 500 yards, 4 TD), sophomore Easton Harms (14 receptions, 144 yards, 2 TD) and seniors William Grote (11 for 141, TD) and Nick Sholty (11 for 134, TD) are other returning receiving options for the quarterback.
DEFENSE: The defense is a lot like the offense. The leading tackler from last year is gone, but there are a ton of other guys back that made strong contributions to the cause. Nieman had 46 solos, 61.5 total takedowns and a team-high five interceptions while Grote was at 44 solos and 61.5 total of his own. Dejean (43 tackle), senior Sam Devitt (37 tackles, 2 TFL, 2 sacks) and junior Christopher Mace (30 tackles, TFL) were other strong standouts on the roster. Throw in the time and experience from seniors Sholty, Tevin Harms, Tallon Johnson (3 TFL) and Gavin Parks; junior Geo Ehrig; and sophomores Andrew Sholty, Easton Harms and Ethan Shever.
CONCLUSION: Nearly everything is in place for another successful season for the Falcons. The only thing we need to know right now is who is going to sling the ball around. Ludwig threw all 325 passes OABCIG threw last year. Who’s next? We’ll find out soon enough.
Red Oak Tigers — 2018 Record: 4-5 overall, 2-3 district
Coach: Ryan Gelber
OVERVIEW: Red Oak’s terrific 12-man senior class is gone after a strong finish to their careers last season. They beat Clarinda and Shenandoah and were competitive in nearly every other game. This year’s seniors should be around that 11-12 marker while the junior class is likely to be a bit smaller. Look for some sophomores - potentially around 16 members - to be key components of this year’s team.
OFFENSE: There are two well-known entities on the offensive side - seniors Justin McCunn and Carter Maynes. McCunn carried 129 times for 729 yards and five touchdowns while Maynes had 122 for 704 and four. However, they lose much of or all of their offensive line, their quarterback, their leading receiver and their leading rusher. So, to me that means there are some opportunities up for grabs.
DEFENSE: McCunn had a team-high 78 tackles last year, so he’ll lead the charge again this year. Maynes (31 tackles, INT) and fellow seniors Zach Guerra (12 tackles) and Jake Echternach (10 tackles) also had double-digit tackles last season. However, eight of their top 10 tacklers have graduated.
CONCLUSION: This preview is kind of brief because there are so many unknowns at this point. The knowns are really, really good, but there are just so many big-roled graduated seniors that have left holes. And those holes need to be filled. Away they go.
Shenandoah Mustangs — 2018 Record: 0-9 overall, 0-5 district
Coach: Ty Ratliff
OVERVIEW: It was a tough year for Shenandoah in 2018. They have lost eight players - including a number of guys up front - but there should be about 13 seniors this year and 10-11 in the junior class.
OFFENSE: Senior quarterback Kyle Cerven had a strong season a year ago, throwing for 790 yards and rushing for 263. Fellow senior Conner Birt rushed for a team-high 279 yards while senior Anthony Stogdill had 150 yards and two scores and another senior Blake Swanson rushed for 100 yards on 17 carries. Look for sophomore Morgan Cotton to be even more involved this year after 43 carries as a freshman. As for receivers, senior tight end AJ Herold had 18 grabs for 245 yards - both top returning figures for the Mustangs - and Stogdill (143 yards) and senior Devin Morelock (103 yards) were other threats.
DEFENSE: Cerven was also the team’s leading tackler (51 tackles) and had an interception and three fumble recoveries last season. Herold (24 tackles, 6 TFL), Birt (19 tackles), Stogdill (16 tackles, INT) and juniors Avery McCunn (13.5 tackles) and Ty Rogers (11 tackles, 5 TFL, 3 sacks) were other standouts on last year’s defense. Additionally, Morelock (11.5 tackles) and Kalob Inman (2 TFL) - both seniors - should be contributing defenders in 2019.
CONCLUSION: The Mustangs relied a lot on juniors last season. Now that they’re seniors it would be a shock if they didn’t see improvement on the field and on the scoreboard.
Last year, the district came down to the final week between three schools - Greene County, Kuemper Catholic and OABCIG. I would find it largely surprising if it didn’t come down to those teams again this year. I’ll give a slight edge to Kuemper and Greene County for returning their quarterbacks, as well as Division I stars up front.
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