Holton Football Preview 2019
The Holton High Wildcats have a lot of lettermen returning from last year’s football team at the skill positions but they lack experience and depth along the offensive and defensive lines. Three offensive starters and six defensive starters are back for the Wildcats.
HHS head football coach Brooks Barta sees a lot of good things about this year’s team and picks the Wildcats to win the Big Seven League over Sabetha, Jeff West, Perry-Lecompton, Nemaha Central, Hiawatha, Royal Valley and Riverside.
“After a disappointing season at 3-3 in the league and 3-6 overall, I believe our younger players will rebound and do a better job preparing for the regular season,’’ coach Barta said in a preseason questionnaire. “In 2019, we will again have a very tough district schedule and season schedule. Last year may have been one of the best top-to-bottom years in the Big Seven. ‘’
Barta said the Wildcats and all the other teams in the league will be challenged to “fill the shoes of many of their graduating seniors.’’
Sabetha, Marysville and Wamego, he said, “should be very talented football teams in our district.’’
“We will have a lot of work to do on the offensive line and defensive line. We will also have to fill the shoes of a long time offensive line coach Mark Middlemist, lost to retirement,’’ Barta said.
Holton’s offensive backfield running the wishbone again this season could be a bright spot for the team.
“Our backfield could be a bright point,’’ Barta said. “At quarterback junior Kale Purcell 6’3, 175 pounds, is our front runner. At fullback, we have honorable mention All-State performer Konnor Tannahill, a 6-foot, 215 -pound junior, and Keegan Purcell, a 5-8, 180-pound senior.’’
At running back, the coach said, the Wildcats return senior starters Trey Wright (6-foot, 190 pounds) and Kolby Roush (5-7, 155 pounds).
Senior Taygen Fletcher (5-9-, 155) and juniors Cannon Karn (6-0, 205) and Addison Hundley (6-1, 180) will also compete for carries.
Tannahill rushed for 674 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. Wright rushed for 540 yards and five TDs.
The Wildcats run a 3-4 defensive look and coach Barta said he expects the team’s inside and outside linebackers to be very active this season.
“Ian Watkins, Kolby Roush and Trey Wright were all starters last year,’’ Barta said. “Keegan Purcell, Addison Hundley, Will Davies, Cannon Karn, junior Jake Barnes (5-6, 120) and Conner Gilliland will also compete for time.’’
In the secondary, Taygen Fletcher is a returning starter for the Wildcats.
“I expect Jeremiah Goudeau, Sam Mann, senior Karsen Brandt (5-11, 160), Kale Purcell, Marcus Pruett and Jake Barnes to compete for time,’’ Barta said.
Roush led the team in tackles last season with 73 (47 solo), Tannahill had 53, Watkins 51 and Fletcher 48.
On the line, only Noah Woltje (6-2, 230) was listed as a returning starter, and over the summer Woltje sustained a season-ending knee injury.
Adrian Yin (6-1, 270), Jeremiah Goudeau (5-11, 175), Aaron McAllister (5-10, 180,) Hayden Rivers (5-10, 200 ) and Will Davies (5-9, 170) are all seniors who will have to step it up, the coach said.
Carter Watkins (5-10, 180), Jordan Huntington (6-0, 215) and Logan Dieckmann (6-1 230), are juniors who will help, Barta said. “We will need some depth from sophomores on the offensive and defensive line as well.’’
Barta said the team’s tight ends lack experience as well. Seniors Jack Gilliland (6-1, 180), Ian Watkins (5-9 160) and Sam Mann (6-2, 175) are on the team as are juniors Connor Gilliland (5-10, 165 ) and Marcus Pruett (5-10, 165) and they all should compete for playing time.
“Sophomores should also make a push at this position,’’ Barta said.
“We will not be a very big football team this year,’’ he said. “We should have a lot of depth at the skill positions and speed everywhere on the field. Due to our lack of experience, we are concerned about the challenges of the schedule early in the season. We believe this is a team that worked hard in the off season and competes to get better every day in practice. We expect to be a competitive playoff team by the end of the season.’’
The HHS coaching philosophy continues unchanged from year to year.
“We want play a physical style of football that best emphasizes the abilities of our young people. As every individual improves as a football player and a person, our success as a program improves,’’ Barta says.
Barta, in his 24th year as head coach at HHS, is 219-51 overall. The Wildcats were state champions in 2003, 2005 and 2012. The Wildcats were state runners-up in 1998, 1999, 2010 and 2015. This year’s team has 65 players on the roster.
Assistant coaches are Brian Meerpohl, Joe Purcell, Alex Bartel, Matt Hundley and new assistant coach Cameron Karn. LD Fletcher also helps with the team.
The first varsity game is set for Friday, Sept. 6 at Jeff-West