The football program came off one of their most successful seasons in seven-plus years; the program was looking to build on that success with one of the largest groups of football freshmen in over four years. The departure of eleven seniors looked like it would be a challenge at the very beginning, but the modified coaching staff was ready for it. The team not only experienced the departure of those seniors, but three different coaches hung up their whistles as well. Coach Dobler retired from 41 years of teaching at the end of the 2018-2019 school year, and with that, he decided to step away from football. Coach Franz decided the dedication to both the team and his job was too extensive as his career became more and more demanding. Coach Redlich, a new father, decided he wanted to spend more time with his little guy, Emmitt. With the departure of Coach Redlich, the program required a new defensive coordinator; Coach Z decided this would be a good time for him to step away from offense and return to his roots. Coach Z, when asked about the change, said, “I played defense in college for three years at three different positions and feel that I have always had a better feel for the game on the defensive side of the ball.” Since this change occurred, he promoted longtime assistant Ben Rennicke to the Offensive Coordinator position. Joined by new coaches, Coach Fischer and Coach Meulemans, the staff was ready for the new challenge of this 2019 season of Living Word Football.
Throughout the season, the Timberwolves faced many different challenges. One of the main challenges the team faced during the season was injury. Being a young team at the beginning, the team could ill afford damage happening to it, but each game there seemed to be some kind of significant injury or illness it needed to overcome. Before the season even began, Coach Z learned about senior lineman, Zach Graff, a mainstay on the offensive line for his first three years in the program would not be able to play that season. Zach stayed on as player-coach and captain for the program. In the very first game of the season, the team was without three of their lineman. This loss forced them to have to use some unconventional ways to fill out an offensive line, and many of the athletes did not leave the field. In the first game, the Timberwolves experienced a significant injury when Mark Schaefer went down with a neck injury. This unexpected occurrence shook the players, but they were able to continue. Still, the great news is Mark would later come back from this injury and play in two varsity games at the end of the season, making some significant impacts. Another injury that shook the Timberwolves football team in game three, even though it did not seem serious at first, was the loss of junior linebacker and utility offensive player Logan Werner. The good news for Logan is that he was seen back out on the wrestling mat later in the year. (Tune in later to a different Howler to learn about the wrestling season)
Within the first few games, the young Timberwolves could tell that they had work to do, but they were excited about the prospects of what the future could bring. Senior leaders Tate Rose and Michael Prasch both started the year strong by finding the end zone five different times between the two of them. Tate found himself thrust into the starting quarterback role; he was excited to show that he could play the position and take over the offensive side of the ball with new offensive coordinator, Ben Rennicke. As the year continued, the two of them worked well together and built off of one another. The year did not go without a hitch, but both athlete and coach grew together. Tate continued to show his ability to run the ball well, finding the opening and hitting it with ruthless aggression. Tate also developed as a leader for the team, personally telling the team on his own accord that he saw the potential of the young players and what they might do in the future. Tate finished the year with 294 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns, 200 passing yards, and a passing touchdown; he also finished with 80+ total tackles and a defensive touchdown. Michael Prasch turned a big corner during the year, becoming the vocal leader and the example for the team to follow. He became the utility player on offense, sometimes going down to the offensive line, playing quarterback in a pinch, and finding his niche as the running back. Michael would do the same thing for the program on defense, he switched from safety to cornerback, and even into a linebacker. He would finish out the year as the only member of the team to receive all-conference honors, the coaches of the Midwest Classic Conference would select him as an At-Large 1st Team All-Conference Defensive Back. At the end of the year, Michael racked up 454 yards rushing with five touchdowns, with that he had 300+ yards returning on kickoffs and two touchdowns, and 103 total tackles.
These two were not the only ones to contribute on the field; Elijah Flowers became one of the main targets on offense and was the only receiver to come down with a touchdown. He also showed his reliability on defense by being able to shut down one half of the field as a cornerback. Freshman, Jaron Crowder, proved vital to the team as he took over the starting running back role when Logan Werner went down for the remainder of the season and would finish with 189 of the team’s rushing yards and a touchdown. Teams would think twice about running toward Jaron’s side on defense. Reid McGraw and Jacob Buske, both showed the ability to play at the varsity level as linebackers and offensive lineman. These two young men took on some of the most formidable defensive linemen with the help of Trevor Trepte and Gavin Lillyroot, showed that they would be cornerstones of the offensive line for years to come. Both Gavin and Trevor took significant steps forward by taking over important starting roles with the departure of John Schirger and Zach Graff. They were able to help get the ball rolling. Jason Steinmann and Matthew Fox became the two names that were often talked about on defense when it came to pressuring the quarterback as Jason recorded two sacks and two hurries, while Matthew recorded six hurries.
If you were a fan of the team this year and stared at the scoreboard, you missed out on the potential that the team showed. Not all players were mentioned within this short article, as it was difficult to summarize all the thoughts, stories, and comments Coach Z had to share. Coach Z summarized his thoughts by saying, “This team is primed and ready for the future, our new football-only conference should watch out for what they can do not a few years but right now in this upcoming season.”