PREVIEW: Wildcats have new coach; work to build numbers


     High school football is very often about the number of players a team has in uniform, and the Maquoketa Valley Wildcats are seeing an upturn in that department.

     New head coach Trevor Arnold’s team has 29 total players in 2019, up from 23 last year. The Wildcats didn’t have enough to field a junior varsity team last year.

     “We increased our numbers, but we are still looking to increase that number through success on the field and providing a positive experience for our student-athletes,” Arnold said.

     “We are able to play two quarters of JV football with the number of players we have now. Our goal is to get to the point later in the year to make it a full JV game if possible.”

     The Wildcats have another goal: to improve over last year’s records of 2-3 in district play and 2-7 overall. It will help that MV has nine returning starters and a total of 10 returning letter-winners.

     Three of those are all-district players. Senior lineman Michael Feldman made the first team after finishing third on the team in tackles with 40.

     Making the second team were senior running back/linebacker Derek Becker, who rushed for 714 yards and made 25 tackles last season; and senior wide receiver/cornerback Matthew Hucker, who made two interceptions and saw time at quarterback, running back and receiver in 2018.

     Other returning starters include senior lineman Carter Stahlberg, senior running back/defensive tackle Zach Digman, junior center/linebacker Timmy Harmon, junior tight end/linebacker Andrew Kloser, and junior wide receiver/cornerback Owen Mensen. Parker Sternhagen, a junior quarterback/safety, also earned a letter last year.

     Promising newcomers include senior Mason Kruse, juniors Andrew Holtz, Mitch Heims and Evan Elgin; sophomore A.J. Ambundo, and freshman Jaxson Kramer.

     “Depth is our biggest concern,” Arnold said. “Our nucleus of returning players have the talent to be successful throughout the season if we can keep all of them on the field.”

     The competition in Class A, District 5 appears to be wide open, at least on paper.

     “There isn’t one team that anyone looks at as a clear-cut favorite,” Arnold said. “Ed-Co (defending district champion) had a tremendous amount of success last year, reaching the (state) semifinals, but needs to replace a great group of seniors. MFL MarMac has an entire offensive line returning, and if they can replace key losses in the backfield, they may be considered the front-runner.

     “It should be exciting in weeks five through nine (district play), because it would be anybody’s district to win and it isn’t likely that a district team will finish their district slate undefeated.”

     Arnold is originally from Titonka, Iowa. He was an assistant coach at Central Elkader for seven years, and most recently was Oelwein’s head coach for the past two.

     He is assisted by Scot Moenck, Greg Drew, Kurt Hatfield and John Whitman.




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