116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Iowa’s 8-player high school football class is going to have a fired-up group from Jackson Junction to reckon with in 2022.
Following an undefeated regular season and a 40-point first round playoff win, Turkey Valley’s 2021 season ended in a second round, 2-point loss to Lansing Kee.
It’s a loss this year’s eighth-rated Trojans are using as motivation.
“Losing to Kee High in the second round after an undefeated regular season and a blowout first-round game hurt big-time,” said senior quarterback Noah Hanson. “I don’t think anyone forgot that pain and I definitely think this team has a whole new mentality this year.”
“The loss was pretty disheartening, because it was one of those ones where they came back and won it because we didn’t put the game away when we should have,” said Turkey Valley Coach Mark Scott.
Despite losing some key players from last year’s 9-1 team, Scott said this isn’t a complete rebuild.
“We lost five seniors from last year, so we’re down a few kids,” Scott said. “But we’re going to reload here I’m pretty sure.”
Scott enters his 20th year as head coach having just one losing season in his past 10.
One thing that’s unique about the 2022 Trojans is they’ll have just seven regular-season games.
“We lost a Week 3 game, a team (Rockford) dropped varsity football we just found out last Friday,” Scott said. “Went from eight games to seven games.”
That increases the importance of each game on their schedule.
“This year we have something to prove,” said junior fullback and linebacker Oliver Schmitt. “So being locked in and ready to go at all times is something I will bring and I’m sure everyone else will, too.”
Hanson and Schmitt are two key returners to an offense that averaged 46.1 points per game last season.
“My goal for our offense this year is to put up 50 to 60 points per game,” Hanson said. “I don’t think that’s unachievable based off of how hard our team worked this offseason and how well we were able to score last year, despite losing a few key players.”
“He’s (Hanson) a dual-threat kind of guy,” Scott said. “In high school football, the most dangerous thing is a quarterback that can take off. He throws a good ball, and us having enough athletes to run the ball, the dual-threat purpose will be our biggest thing.”
One of the offense’s key losses is Marcus Herold, who led the Trojans in rushing with 1,171 yards and 24 touchdowns.
“Oliver Schmitt’s a junior who’s going to fill (Herold’s) offensive position,” Scott said. “He’s got that natural thing about when he runs, he gets yards. He knows how to get through a hole, he knows how to avoid a direct hit.”
On the outside, Turkey Valley’s size may provide matchup nightmares for opponents. While the Trojans lost their top three receivers from last year, the 2022 unit will tout 6-foot-3 Calvin Bodensteiner, 6-2 Chase Hayek and 6-6 Ryan Franzen.
“We have some nice receivers coming back,” Scott said. “The stats don’t really indicate it, but we have some kids that can catch the ball. People aren’t going to be able to just pack it in or spread out because they’re going to have to be able to stop the run and still cover passes.”
“People should want to come watch us because of how fast and explosive this year’s team is going to be,” Hanson said. “This team is sneaky fast and we will always be a threat (for) big plays.”
Defensively, Turkey Valley returns multiple key contributors to a 2021 unit that allowed just 16.8 points per game, including two in the defensive backfield.
“Both our corners are back,” Scott said. “Carson Busta will play one corner and Calvin Bodensteiner will play the other.”
Scott added that the strength of this year’s defense will be speed.
On special teams, Hanson returns as the team’s punt returner after ending 2021 second in 8-Player with 237 punt return yards, and first in both yards per return (23.7) and TDs (3).
“He’s dangerous,” Scott said. “He can put it in the house in a hurry.”
Turkey Valley will begin its season with non-district games against Edgewood-Colesburg and No. 7 Don Bosco.
“If we can go down and be competitive with those two teams, and play well, we know we can play with anybody,” Scott said. “Then the rest of the season should all fall in like it should.”
“My expectations for the team this year is no doubt to win the district again and then make a deep playoff run,” Hanson said.