Holton Football Preview 2020
The Holton Wildcats football team is getting ready for the 2020 season with lots of returning starters, lots of confidence and lots of optimism. About 59 kids are out for the team.
The Wildcats’ head coach Brooks Barta is starting his 24th year with an overall record of 226-54 and three state titles in 2003, 2005 and 2012. Barta teams also have also had four state runner up titles in 1998, 1999, 2010 and 2015.
Helping coach Barta with the Wildcats are Joe Purcell, Cameron Karn, Alex Bartel, Brian Meerpohl, Matt Hundley and LD Fletcher.
“This summer we averaged more than 110 workouts a day,’’ Barta said. “June went especially well. Our young people did a really good job of dealing with the situation and adjusting to new routines. After a spring at home, they were pretty happy to see each other every day. Grade 7-12 made a lot of progress in the weight room over the summer and we re-established a great training and school culture.’’
The Wildcats last season were 7-3 overall with district and bi-district titles and were 4-2 in the Big 7 League.
Last season was the 22nd straight season that the Wildcats made it to the state playoffs in football - an unconfirmed state record in the prep sport. The KSHSAA reportedly can’t find another school in state history with a better playoff record in the sport.
Coach Barta and the Wildcats run a wishbone offense and an odd front defense. Holton had a really strong 2019 football season, with wins over state runners up Perry-Lecompton and state champion Nemaha Central, as well as winning one of the state’s toughest districts.
Early losses to Jeff West and Sabetha showed the team’s inexperience and youth on the line of scrimmage.
“We finished with a loss to a Perry team that did a nice job of making big plays through the playoffs and advancing to the championship,” Barta said. “We expect to continue to make progress this season. We have experience returning in the backfield and on the line. We also have some young players who should compete for playing time. We should be a much deeper football team this year.”
The Wildcats were a young football team on the line last season. This year the following linemen are back with starting experience:
*Senior Logan Dieckman (6’1 195).
*Senior Jordan Huntington (6’1, 270) (first team All League last season and All Area).
*Carter Watkins (5’10, 215). (honorable mention All Area.
*Junior Kaden Cattrell (6’2, 270).
*Junior Andrew Williams (6’2, 245) (honorable mention All Area last season).
Other linemen on the team are:
*Senior Issac Mulenga (6’1, 240).
*Junior Dustin Chermok (6’, 270).
*Junior John Heinen (6’2, 210).
*Junior Henry Katz (5’10, 230).
*Junior Dallas Pittaway (6’4, 250).
“These players make this a very competitive position. This group has a chance to get a lot of people on the field,” Barta said.
Tight end and wide receivers include:
*Senior, Addison Hundley (6’, 195).
*Senior Connor Gilliland (5’10, 165).
*Senior Marcus Pruett (5’10, 165).
*Junior Reese Holaday (6’1 180)
*Junior Richard Leiker (6’3, 215).
“Holiday and Leiker should compete for time along with some sophomores,’’ Barta said.
The team’s quarterbacks re athletic, the coach said.
*Senior Kale Purcell (6’3, 175) is the returning starter at QB and was an honorable mention All Area pick last season.
*Juniors Jake Zeller (6’2 175) and sophomore Matthew Lierz (5’10 190) could play multiple positions, the coach said. Zeller was an All Area pick at punter last season.
“At running back we have two big physical backs returning in senior Konnor Tannahill (6’0, 210) and Canon Karn ( 5’10, 210). Juniors Connor Collins (5’9, 175), Slater Skaggs (5’9, 160) and sophomore Jayden Fletcher showed promise also last year,’’ Barta said.
Tannahill was an honorable mention All State pick at defensive line last season, was first team All League at running back and defensive and All Area at both positions, too. Karn was an honorable mention All State pick at linebacker last season and was also first team All League and All Area at that position.
“We run a 3-4 defensive look and expect our inside and outside linebacker positions to be very competitive,” Barta said. “As of now, we are not sure how our inside and outside linebackers will line up. Karn, Gilliland, Hundley, Pruett and Holaday all spent some time on the field last year. Add John Heinen (6’1 185), Kayden Jackson (6’ 170), Leiker and sophomore Jace Boswell (6’2, 210) who all showed promise last year.”
Purcell and Collins were both starters in the secondary last year, the coach said. Juniors Lucas Adcock (5’9, 155), Jace Hallauer (5’8 145), Skaggs, Zeller can all compete and the team has several sophomores who can run and make plays. “It will be competitive,’’ Barta said.
Add All State Tannahill and junior James Segenhagen (5’10 190) to the defensive line and the team adds some athleticism to the defensive line, the coach added.
“Our first three games are state champion Nemaha Central, state runner up Perry and Chapman. In district, we add Rock Creek to the rest of our Big Seven opponents. Our schedule should prepare us for our districts and a challenging part of the state to make a playoff run,” Barta said.
Coach Barta predicts this is how the Big 7 League will finish up; Holton, Perry-Lecompton, Sabetha, Nemaha Central, Jefferson West, Riverside, Royal Valley and Hiawatha.
Coach Barta’s coaching philosophy is “We want to 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.”