MANCHESTER — West Delaware has a proud football tradition, qualifying for the state playoffs for 10 straight seasons from 2008-17.
However, the Hawks have not been in the postseason the past two seasons. That will change in 2020 as all teams, due to adjusted schedules implemented in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, will make the playoffs.
Even without the adjusted schedule and automatic playoff spot, Coach Doug Winkowitsch’s team already had lofty goals for this season.
West Delaware is seeking a return to the UNI-Dome, a place it hasn’t been since the 2015 state semifinals. Winkowitsch, starting his 17th season leading the Hawks, said the sting of last year’s 5-4 finish has been a motivating factor for his players.
“We are optimistic about the 2020 season,” he said. “We are coming off a disappointing year.”
The Hawks also are entering 2020 on a roll of sorts. After starting the 2019 season at 2-4, West Delaware closed with wins over Decorah, Charles City and Waterloo East.
All three teams are in West Delaware’s Class 3A district again this fall, along with defending Class 3A state champion Western Dubuque.
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT
“The entire district will be well coached, fundamentally solid and competitive from top to bottom,” Winkowitsch said. “In a district where we have so many quality teams you must be ready each week and sustain it for four quarters.”
With 18 returning starters, the Hawks are an experienced group.
“We will have above average speed this fall and our kids had a tremendous offseason,” Winkowitsch said. “With most of our team back we feel like we should be able to move more quickly this year.
“We have exceptional experience in our offensive skill positions. We want to start as fast as possible.”
Heading up the list of returners is all-stater Wyatt Voelker. The 6-foot, 200-pound senior linebacker/running back had 76 tackles last year, including five sacks and 14 tackles for loss. On offense, he carried the ball 73 times for 508 yards and six touchdowns.
“Wyatt is a talented young man. He is physical, tough and a great leader,” Winkowitsch said. “He is a great team player and he will do whatever it takes to be successful.”
Another senior, defensive end Kieran Monaghan (6-2, 220), will anchor the line. He had 54 tackles, including 13 for loss.
With a condensed amount of practice time before Friday’s Week 0 opener at Anamosa, the Hawks are fortunate to have a returning starter at quarterback. Senior Jared Voss had a solid campaign in 2019, completing 67 of 138 passes for 993 yards and five TDs. The 6-2, 180-pounder also rushed for 316 yards and eight scores.
“Having experience and having a returning quarterback is helpful,” Winkowitsch said. “We have exceptional experience in our offensive skill positions. We need to build our two-deep quickly since we picked the Week 0 game at Anamosa.”
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT
Voss has the luxury of having a top receiving target back. Senior Kyle Kelley (6-4, 175) had 30 catches for 496 yards and three TDs.
With the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, Winkowitsch acknowledged development of depth will be paramount.
“We need to focus on the fundamental aspects of football and develop adequate depth early in the preseason,” he said. “We are taking precautions that are being mandated by the state and trying to move forward as normal as possible.
“It is important to build a solid two-deep with all the uncertainty week by week (due to the virus). We are looking forward to an exciting fall and are very grateful Iowa is moving forward with kids in school and sports.”
West Delaware, at a glance
Coach: Doug Winkowitsch (17th year at West Delaware, 126-45; 26th year overall)
Last year: 5-4 (Did not make the playoffs)
Top returners: Kyle Kelley WR/DB, Jamison Smith TE, Logan Woellert WR/DB, Jared Voss QB, Alias Underwood WR, Jadyn Peyton LB, Wyatt Voelker RB/LB, Kieran Monaghan OL/DE, Christian Nunley DE, Cody Monaghan OL, Luke Kehrli OL, Carson Petlon OL/DL, Mitch Krogmann OL/DL.
Aug. 21 — at Anamosa
Aug. 28 — Dubuque Wahlert
Sept. 4 — at Clinton
Sept. 11 — at Decorah
Sept. 18 — Charles City
Sept. 25 — Waverly Shell-Rock
Oct. 2 — Western Dubuque
Oct. 9 — Waterloo East