Football: More of the same expected in GoodhueGOODHUE — Goodhue graduated 16 seniors from last year’s section runner-up, but if history does indeed repeat itself, the Wildcats will find plenty of victories again this season.
By: Chris Harrell, The Republican Eagle
GOODHUE — Goodhue graduated 16 seniors from last year’s section runner-up, but if history does indeed repeat itself, the Wildcats will find plenty of victories again this season.
Head coach Tony Poncelet knows that filling the shoes of departed running backs Alex Brunholzl and Jeremy Schrimpf will be quite the task. At a 1A school, that’s the norm.
“This year’s no exception,” Poncelet said. “But last year we had 16 seniors, a lot of which were two- and three-year starters. It’s part of the tradition: The guys work hard over the summer and every year there’s opportunities for players coming in.”
Brunholzl led the Hiawatha Valley Conference in rushing during the regular season with 1,033 yards on 162 carries with 12 touchdowns while Schrimpf scored a conference-leading 18 touchdowns, 12 rushing and six receiving, in helping Goodhue to a 5-3 regular season record. Schrimpf’s total tied him for fifth all-time in the HVL.
Senior Dillon Huemann, who saw some varsity time at running back last season, will be expected to continue a tradition of stellar running backs at Goodhue. Huemann said the Wildcats can’t expect a drop off from last year.
“We want to come into each game knowing that we have a shot to win,” Huemann said. “And prove to teams that we’re just as good as year’s past.”
Goodhue also needs to break in a new quarterback after Brandon Dowden’s graduation. Sophomore Tyler Schumacher will be handed the job and expected to continue a run of successful signal callers for the Wildcats.
“We have a great tradition of quarterbacks and Brandon Dowden fits right in there,” Poncelet said. “He got really good by the end of his junior year.
“This year, we’ll be leaning on Tyler Schumacher and Dillon Huemann and (freshman) Jake Pasch. The expectations are high. You’re usually the first to practice and the last guys to leave practice. You’re the guy taking the game tapes home from last year. You’ve got to know what everybody’s doing. If we didn’t think those guys could do it, we wouldn’t put them in that situation.”
Despite losing receiver Jacob Staehli, the Wildcats return Tyson Dicke, Zach Hinsch and Alex Weckerling, each with at least 100 yards receiving in their junior year, to ease Schumacher’s burden.
“We’ve got to lean on the guys that have the experience,” Poncelet said. “We have some juniors and seniors that were on the field last year. We’ve got to lean on those guys to kind of pick up the people around them and that’s what makes it a team.”
Goodhue is also helping a young team by spending more time using the chalk board and walking through plays during practice to get players up to speed, Poncelet said. The big target is no longer on the Wildcats as the conference power, but that could help a young team trying to grow without the pressure of winning every game.
“There are a lot of shoes to fill,” Weckerling said. “We’re doing really well in practice. We’ve got some new looks we’re going to show. I think we’ll be just as good as last year. We have the potential.”
A lot of learning is taking place early and Goodhue returns one starting offensive lineman in Ryan Tipcke. Josh Dahling, a 250-pound junior, will be expected to develop quickly as the Wildcats still have the same goals: Make the Section 1A championship by season’s end.
“There might be some growing pains early but these guys are doing everything we’ve asked of them,” Poncelet said. “Our goals don’t change. Our goal is to play in the section finals every year. The opportunity to play to go to state, there’s nothing like it.”
The Wildcats begin the season Friday on the road against Pine Island.