WOODWARD — Veteran head coach George Ashman has had his hand forced in several areas, as a reshuffling in the trenches and at quarterback will serve as the biggest challenges facing his Hawks this season. The Hawks were 5-4 overall and 2-3 in 1A District 7 in 2018.
“Our success will be predicated on whether we can successfully run the ball,” Ashman said. “I like what we have coming back and believe in our guys up front — now it is up to them to go out and show what they can do.”
Junior Trevor Simmons will step in a quarterback after completing his only pass last season. Simmons has experience in mop-up time, but that has been almost entirely in handing the ball off.
“Trevor knows the system, knows what we are going to ask him to do, and to not to do,” Ashman said. “It will be a bit of a learning curve when he gets his first starts, but we have faith in him to get the job done.”
He will backed up by Reese Jamison, who will see time in several spots. Jamison was 7-of-18 for 168 yards and a touchdown last season. He ran 28 times for 150 yards and a TD and caught two passes for 26 yards and a score.
W-G would prefer, even under optimal circumstances, to avoid becoming a passing team and rarely puts the ball in the air more than 10-12 games per game.
That said, the receiving weapons are efficient. Bryce Achenbach caught 34 passes for 644 yards (18.9 per catch) and four scores last year, with Pacey Moats snaring seven aerials for 110 yards (15.7 ypc) and two touchdowns. Both return and will be joined by Cale Pritchett in a rotation, with Justin Wheeler at tight end.
Hunter Heard will snap the ball, with Alex Evans and Kris Kammerer at tackles and Trey Lettow and Garrett Burkhart at guards.
Tate Lettow returns in backfield at tailback. He found the end zone five times last year while gaining 1,069 yards on 177 rushes. Kade Polich (44-251, 3 TDs) will see time at fullback. Achenbach will see carries as well, mostly on sweeps. He had 150 yards and one TD on 24 carries in 2018.
W-G scored 261 points last year and yielded 195, outscoring district foes 195-149. An 11-8 home win over South Hamilton was the only contest decided by fewer than 20 points, revealing the Hawks were either in control, or not so.
“We have to be more consistent,” Ashman said. “Two of our losses to were 11-1 Van Meter and to I-35, who finished 10-1. If we take care of our other business and play like I think we are capable of in the others we are going to be OK.”
Kammerer and Burkhart will start at defensive tackle, with Polich and John McKeever and defensive end, with Jamison, Simmons and Trey Lettow at linebacker. Worth Henry, Jared Manning and Pritchett are vying for the cornerback spots, with Moats opening at strong safety and Achenbach at free safety.
Achenbach had 60 tackles and four interceptions last season, with Jamison making 59.5 stops, 10 of them for a loss of yardage. Lettow aided the cause with 52 denials, with Pritchett in on 36 total tackles.
W-G begins play Friday at arch-rival Madrid. The Hawks striped the Tigers, 55-29, last year. W-G opens home action Sept. 6 with a visit from Ogden, with Homecoming 2019 set for Oct. 11 against Pleasantville.