CEDAR RAPIDS — Waukon has one of the best prep football programs in the state right now.
That’s not hyperbole. It’s in the numbers.
The Indians won the Class 2A state championship in 2017, advanced to the semifinals in 2018 and lost to Ida Grove OABCIG in last year’s title game. Waukon is 34-4 over the past three seasons, head coach Chad Beermann is 65-18 in his eight years at the school.
This was a guy who was head coach at Valley (Elgin) until that school merged with North Fayette to create North Fayette Valley. He was passed over for that job, and Waukon pounced.
It was a good decision.
“We’ve got a pretty good weight room, our kids are pretty committed to it,” Beermann said. “And I really do have an outstanding group of assistants.”
Most of them have the last name Snitker. Jon and Ted Snitker are brothers and part of Waukon’s varsity coaching staff.
Jon’s sons Cody and Blaine are Waukon graduates and now on the Indians’ staff.
Ted’s son Lincoln is a junior linebacker-running back.
“So there is a lot of that (familial ties) going on here,” Beermann understated.
This Waukon team appears to have the goods to make yet another deep playoff run, if it can stay healthy and coronavirus free, of course.
It begins on offense, at quarterback, in particular, where senior Creed Welch returns for a third season as starter. The 6-foot-4 Welch has packed on about 30 pounds, according to Beermann, and is at 195.
He threw for over 2,200 yards and 26 touchdowns last season, adding another 300 yards and seven TDs rushing. As a sophomore, Welch took over starting duties because of an injury in Week 2 and passed for over 2,400 yards and 29 touchdowns.
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“He’s a smart kid, not easily flustered,” Beermann said. “The state championship game (last year) wasn’t a great offensive game for him, yet he came up with a great defensive game in that one (two interceptions). He’s a competitor, he has seen stuff. That first game two years ago, he wasn’t our starter, but he had to come in for one play the first game, and he throws a first down.”
Beermann said his star is getting some Division I college looks.
“We were really disappointed he did not get a track season last spring because we thought he would be in the running in the 400 hurdles, at least to get to state. Then we’d see where he could from there,” Beermann said. “His strength is so much more improved, and he’s going to be a more dynamic runner. We’re not going to run him a ton because we have other kids who can carry the ball. But he can get you big chunks of yards if he gets outside on sprint-out pass and turns the corner.”
Waukon has lots of experience at the other skill positions, too, with senior Ethan O’Neill (958 rushing yards, 10 TDs) back at running back and senior Pat Hennessy (400 rushing hards, 3 TDs) back at fullback.
Second-leading receiver Brady Behrend also returns after catching 27 balls a season ago and scoring six touchdowns. The line will have to be rebuilt, though Beermann said it is full of seniors who got playing experience in many blowout games in 2019.
Defensively, Waukon needs to replace three of four starters up front, but there are a plethora of returning guys back other than that. The season begins Friday night at Decorah.
“Practices have gone well,” Beermann said. “It’s an odd time because any day could be your last practice. The kids are working hard.”
He was asked how confident he is that this strange, strange season will have a conclusion.
“Technically, I’m a state employee working with the Department of Correctional Services, so I think with our particular governor, it’s more likely Iowa will complete a football season than probably any other state,” he said. “How’s that? Is that political enough? Or not political enough? I don’t know.”
Waukon, at a glance
Coach: Chad Beermann (8th year at Waukon, 65-17; 150-96 overall)
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Last year: 12-1 (lost to Odebolt-Arthur/Battle Creek/Ida Grove in Class 2A state championship game)
Top returners: QB-DB Creed Welch, RB Ethan O’Neill, TE-LB Brennan Sweeney, RB-LB Pat Hennessy, WR Brady Behrend, LB Lincoln Snitker, DB Avery Rocksvold.
Aug. 28 — at Decorah
Sept. 4 — Waverly-Shell Rock
Sept. 11 — at New Hampton
Sept. 18 — Oelwein
Sept. 25 — at Independence
Oct. 2 — Crestwood
Oct. 9 — North Fayette Valley
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