Football Season Preview: Goodhue tries to overcome growing pains
GOODHUE – At times, Goodhue was great in 2012, averaging 39 points per game in four wins.
But at other times, Wildcats was downright bad, falling by an average of 22.8 points in six losses.
After the up-and-down struggles of last season, a mix of young and old for Goodhue is motivated to get back on track as the team moves to a new conference.
“We’ve been pushing it in practice, in conditioning and in the drills,” said senior wide receiver/cornerback Alex Thomforde. “It’s a little fresh this year with new players and new opponents.”
Going from the Hiawatha Valley League Gold division to the newly-formed Southern Football Alliance Blue division against Class 1A and 2A schools, the Wildcats open the season Friday at home for a Zero Week game against Hayfield.
Since joining the HVL Gold in 2007, Goodhue has not lost to the Vikings in six meetings, including a 36-21 victory in Week 3 last season.
Returning six starters on both sides of the ball, the Wildcats are looking to avoid the injury plague that hit the team last year, beginning on the offensive side of the ball.
“Dillon Huemann (Goodhue’s leading rusher last year) got hurt in Week 6 last year, didn’t play again,” said Goodhue head coach Tony Poncelet. “Then (wide receiver) Tyson Dicke, he was one week away from coming back. … Tyson was second on our team statistically and he only played two games.
“We had a lot of guys who played a game here and there last year due to injuries,” Poncelet added. “We got a lot of guys back with experience.”
Gone are running backs Dillon Huemann and Kyle Drehmel. Looking to become the Wildcats’ workhorse back is senior Riley Huemann, Dillon’s brother.
“It’ll be different running without my brother this year,” Riley said. “I hope to follow in his footsteps.”
Orchestrating Goodhue’s offense will be junior quarterback Tyler Schumacher. After a rough sophomore year under center, the growth in Schumacher’s game has become apparent to his teammates and coaches.
“(Tyler’s) a lot better, and we have a lot better chemistry,” said senior wideout/cornerback Cody Nord. “He’s reading defenses a whole lot better. You can ask him before a play and he’ll know what kind of defense they’re running and where to look.”
Poncelet added, “The game has slowed down a lot for Tyler. He’s making his reads quicker and making adjustments. He knows the system and when to check out of trouble.”
Out wide, Goodhue looks to open the passing game with Thomforde, Nord and tight end Austin Buck. On the offensive line, the Wildcats are anchored by senior Josh Dahling, a 6-foot-1, 275-pound left tackle.
Dahling also leads Goodhue’s front line on defense at defensive tackle.
“With the experience we got, we’re trying to help kids learn their positions,” Dahling said. “We’ll be a pretty good run-stop defense.”
Riley Huemann and Chuck Dahling are returning linebackers, and Nord and Thomforde are back as the starting corners.
“It’s perfect for us,” Nord said of having himself and Thomforde back to defend the pass. “We know where our guys are going to be, you know when they’re going to take that round and what they’re going to do when we’re in zone.”
The Wildcats’ X-factor is the 14 sophomores on the team’s roster. While new to the varsity game, Poncelet and the rest of the Goodhue squad sees a group of 10th-graders teeming at the brim with talent that can hopefully pay off, starting with Hayfield.
“A lot of lower guys have stepped up,” Riley Huemann said. “The older guys are showing them where to go.”