116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Although games still are a few weeks away, Monday marks the official start of the unknown — aka the high school football season.
Actually, Monday marks the start of the unknown in volleyball, swimming, cross country and golf, too — the other high school sports that start practice. Heck, the boys’ golf season starts Thursday with the Mississippi Valley Conference Super Meet at Gardner Memorial Golf Course.
College programs also enter the unknown with Iowa State (Monday) and Iowa (Friday) holding media days.
But let’s look at high school football today. Camps were held last week and many programs run “voluntary” conditioning throughout the summer months. But Monday it’s official — football practices are taking place across Eastern Iowa, across the state.
Several coaches have returned questionnaire we sent out last week and, as is the case every year, there’s plenty of excitement.
Like many coaches, Trevor Arnold of Maquoketa Valley is facing depth issues. He expected 39 players, but only 32 are on the roster. That number “was a shock and we are figuring out how to navigate that,” he wrote.
“With the unknown comes some nerves but also the excitement of what could happen.”
Isn’t that what it’s all about? The unknown doesn’t have to be scary. It can be exciting and even fun. Everybody is unbeaten right now, everybody has hope that goals will be achieved and maybe exceeded.
The season will play out — there will be winners and losers. Some programs will shine, some will falter and some will do the unexpected.
A new season starts with that unknown, even for some of the established and consistent winners.
Cedar Rapids Xavier Coach Duane Schulte is starting his 29th season — his 25th with the Saints — and has a remarkable 209-82 record. Last year’s team went 10-1.
Yet the new year brings new faces and plenty of unknowns. His concerns heading into the 2021 season?
“The usual concern of every football coach, ” he wrote. “Everything.”
Another program that has had consistent success over the years is West Delaware. Doug Winkowitsch is 136-47 heading into his 18th season at the Manchester school.
He is looking forward to the unknown.
“We are optimistic about the 2021 season; we are coming off an exceptional year,” he wrote. “We will have a talented team this fall in key positions. We need to focus on the fundamental aspects of football and develop adequate depth early in the preseason. In a district where we have so many quality teams you must be ready each week and sustain it for four quarters.”
That’s what we call “coach-speak,” but it’s a true statement for every team.
On the other end is Matt Haddy, who is taking over a successful and growing Clear Creek Amana program. He wrote the season starts with “all of the things that come with taking over as a new head coach, learning new system/terminology, building the trust.”
And Lucas Stanton, starting his second year at tradition-rich Solon, also is looking to build.
“I really like this team and their chemistry,” he wrote. “I think if we continue to grow in that area we will be where we want to this season.”
Where will your team be by the end of the 2021 season? That’s the unknown, of course, and that’s what makes this time of year, what makes today, so special.
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