Kee football returns a half dozen letterwinners for 2015 campaign

Left to right - Front: Thad Campbell, Riley Gage, Clay Jones, William Mitchell, Logan West, Brock Flack, Brock Colsch, Clay Olson. Middle: Jed McLimans, Nick Boland, Tucker Colsch, A.J. Gagner, Logan Flack, Jacob Walleser, Noah Spearbecker, Shawn Wild. Back: Cody Rosendahl, Aiden Winters, Johnathon Mooney, Tyler Reinhart, Eric Rud, Tristan Rolfs, Ethan Walleser. Photo courtesy of Kee High School Yearbook.

The 2015 Kee football team will look to benefit from the return of half a dozen varsity letterwinners coming back from a team that posted a 6-3 record last season and qualified for the Eight-Player State Play-Offs for the sixth consecutive season. Those six veterans will shoulder a heavy load, however, as last season’s squad graduated eight seniors, many of whom were multi-year starters and letterwinners.
Those half dozen returning letterwinners include a trio of seniors in Logan Flack, Jed McLimans and Ethan Walleser. Juniors Clay Olson and Casey Carroll also bring back a great deal of varsity experience from their young high school football careers, while sophomore Brock Flack wraps up this season’s list of seasoned returnees for the Hawks out of 23 total players on this season’s Kee roster.
“We are looking for great leadership during practices and games,” Kee football head coach Chad Winters said of his returning veterans. “The effort and intensity they bring to practice will be vital to our improvement. We have a young team that we are looking for growth from every day. I want to see all kids embrace a leadership-type role, whether that is in the weight room, their position groups during practice, or in the classroom.”
Olson is this season’s lone returnee to have earned All-District accolades from last season, as he earned Second Team All-District honors on offense. He returns as the Hawks’ second-leading rusher, 101 carries for 632 yards and 11 touchdowns, and pass receiver, 12 catches for 271 yards and three touchdowns. Carroll ranked fourth and third in those respective categories with 168 yards and one touchdown on 41 carries and 147 yards and three touchdowns on six receptions. Both also ranked just outside the top five in total tackles on last season’s squad.
As one might expect with graduating enough seniors to fill the Eight-Player field, a great deal of statistical leadership left with last season’s eight seniors, including five All-District players. Among those were a trio of All-District linemen who helped make up a four-man front that will all need to be replaced this season. Two-year major contributors on both sides of the ball in skilled positions will also need to be replaced in All-District First Team honorees Dylon Peterson and Marquise Phillips.
“We have to replace eight seniors from last year that were all multiple-year letterwinners,” Coach Winters acknowledged. “All eight started on one or both sides of the ball, so we will be pretty inexperienced.”
Although Coach Winters realizes that depth and inexperience will be his team’s greatest challenge to overcome this season, he likes what he sees in the “workman-like attitudes and team cohesiveness” he has witnessed in this season’s early going. “The kids have been working very hard through camp and the first week of practice,” he said. “Their attitudes have been great and they want to get better every day. Our keys for a successful season will be to stay healthy and show growth from week to week.”
Despite what level of experience takes to the field each season, Coach Winters says his teams’ main goal doesn’t change much. “The goal at the top of the list is to make yourself and your team better every day,” he said. “If our players can do that, we hope to accomplish other goals along the way, such as continuing our play-off qualifying streak, hosting a play-off game, and competing for district titles.”
Coach Winters sees at least a trio of this season’s Eight-Player District 3 teams providing the biggest challenges to those latter goals. “Turkey Valley, Central Elkader and West Central look to be the three teams that the rest of the district is chasing,” he said.
That district chase won’t begin for the Hawks until their district opener at home against Turkey Valley September 11, and the Hawks will open their season this Friday, August 28 at Riceville. Another non-district date Friday, September 4 against Rockford will open Kee’s home schedule for 2015.