What a difference a year makes for the Maquoketa High School football team.
This year’s team touts 14 seniors on the roster. Last year there were only three.
Coach Kevin Bowman said he would love to play kids on either offense or defense, not both, if possible, but some will play both sides. Bowman wants to equalize the Cardinals’ run and pass game on the offensive side of the ball.
Taven Rich and Ryan Gruenwald will be four-year varsity players; that does not happen often. The Cardinals return everyone on offense except the center position, which should make for an exciting offense to watch, he said. The offensive line will be big with five kids over 240 pounds; some years Bowman had to play students on the line at 160 pounds.
The Cardinals’ goal is the same as it is every year — go 9-0 just as every team hopes. But the 3A District 4 division is the toughest district in the state, including last year’s 3A state champion Cedar Rapids Xavier and state runner-up Western Dubuque in the district. With only 16 teams making the playoffs in each class, the Cardinals have a tough schedule, but it’s not impossible. The Cardinals have put in the extra work this off-season to improve themselves.
Entering his second year at the helm, Maquoketa boys cross country coach Rob Dennis is far ahead of last year knowing the kids and working in the off-season.
Dennis said everyone on the roster has improved, making huge strides in their performance so far in the first week of practice. The coach said the team is short of boys right now; there are four boys on the team and it takes five to count on the team score at meets. Dennis is hoping when school starts they can find a couple more boys to fill out the roster.
Fourteen girls are on the girls squad, which gives the girls a very promising future and outlook as they learn to run as a team, Dennis said.
He noted that senior Kaleb Flenker has pushed himself this summer and is taking the sport more seriously because it is his last year in cross country.
Sydney Miller and Addy Michel lead the girls team in the first week of practice.
The team goals are to send multiple runners to state this year.