Members of the 2019

Members of the 2019 Maquoketa Cardinals freshmen/sophomore football team kneel as they listen to some last-minute instructions from coaches. The team celebrated an undefeated season this year.

Coach Josh Koob has been the Maquoketa sophomore football coach since 2006, and this year’s squad accomplished something that the veteran coach had never experienced before. 

The team never lost, not even once.

The 2019 freshman/sophomore team ran its record to 9-0.

The team accomplished that unlikely feat without having a superstar athlete who  carried the team.

“The strength to this year’s team was team unity. We have no superstar, just a bunch of kids that play well together,” Koob said.

Twice, Koob said, he has coached good teams that ended the season with only a single loss with eight wins, but never a team that survived all nine of its games without a blemish.

There were some close calls.

The Cardinals trailed Independence by 19 points at halftime, down 26-7 before mounting an offensive rally while tightening up on the defensive side of the ball. A late touchdown gave Maquoketa a 27-26 victory.

Beating Cedar Rapids Xavier was another memorable win, according to Koob, and an overtime win at home against Dubuque Wahlert was another squeaker. Then, in the final game of the season, the Cardinals managed a late touchdown against Western Dubuque to complete its perfect season.

“There was no quit or panic in this team,” Koob said. “When they were behind, they believed they would score.” 

Koob said “he wished the passing game was more consistent and would like to see big improvement in that part of the game.” He also mentioned “that there were 10-12 kids who made big plays during the season. 

“This was a fun bunch of kids to coach,” he said.

Sean Swanson was one of the players who wore many hats for the team. From defensive end to running back to tight end, he delivered big plays at different positions, Koob said. 

Then, after the Cardinals scored, Swanson kicked the extra points and kickoffs. Swanson had 482 yards on his kickoffs against CenterPoint-Urbana.

Swanson echoed his coach’s statement that the team played well as a unit, “especially in the fourth quarter in the four comeback wins.” 

Swanson credited the team’s late comebacks to  good conditioning and said that his team “just wanted it more.”

Swanson said the team’s highlights included “the comeback win against Indy, the Cedar Rapids Xavier win, the overtime victory against Dubuque Wahlert and the Western Dubuque win for the perfect 9-0 record.”

During the season the Cardinals suffered injuries to several players, including quarterbacks Brady Pauls and Keelan Hoover, who both missed games at one time or another. 

Kasey Coakley, Hunter Manning, Michael Neth and Luke Fields all played key roles for the team after coming back from injuries.

Swanson said he particularly liked playing at home because his dad, Jeff, was on the chain gang, which means he helped move first-down markers after each play.

Sean said his dad helped him stay pumped up after a bad play, and that it helped him stay focused. 

So what does all this mean for Cardinal football fans?

It could mean more varsity wins to cheer about in the future.