Waukon football team looks to defend its Class 2A State Championship for second time in four seasons with small returning veteran group

2021 Waukon football team ... Left to right - Front row: Jack O’Neill, Kole McCormick, Lucas Byrnes, Brody Gress, Jacob Courtney, Brody Berns, Dylan Hogan, Isaac Ericson, Dylan Flack, Kael Crawford, manager Cody Huinker; Second row: Cade Kelly, Cullen Dickson, Pat Hennessy, Lincoln Snitker, Nick Goltz, Evan O’Neill, Brock Sommer, Vicente Quiroz, Noah Hatlan, Brayden Lier, Sean Bieber, Jakob Regan, Ayden Blake, Cael Rethwisch, Tyler Jones; Back row: Caleb Block, Milan Byrnes, Braxton Stewart, Isaac Roe, Elliot Kooiker, Braden Hemann, Isaac Cooper, Drew Stock, Logan Lubahn, Nash Pearson, Carson Lonning, Ethan Hooten, Mason Kelly, Nathan Koch. Not pictured: Owen Malone, Jordan Sletten, Tucker Jackson.

For the second time in program history - and in just the past four years - the Waukon football team will return to the field as the defending Class 2A State Champions, the grid Tribe having played to supremacy over all of Class 2A last fall. Also for the second time, however, defense of that crown will be left to a small handful of experienced veterans and a larger group of those waiting in the wings to carry on the football Indians’ recent trend of State Play-Off success.

Just like three years prior with their first-ever State Championship, last fall’s second journey to supremacy was senior-dominated, with 14 most-upperclassmen manning much of the starting line-up and seven of those then committing to continue their football careers at the collegiate level this fall. However, also like three seasons ago, the combination of a small handful of veteran leaders and a large number of others are waiting for their opportunity to try and continue the recent tradition of not only State Play-Off qualification but also traveling that play-off road all the way to the UNI-Dome in each of the last four seasons.

“We lost a ton of experience and talent, but the kids stepping in have good potential,” ninth year Indian head coach Chad Beermann said. “The task now is to turn that potential into actual performance. We open with two very good Class 4A teams (Waverly-Shell Rock and Decorah), so the schedule won’t let us break kids in slowly. It’ll be straight into the fire.”

This season’s squad currently features 63 young men reporting for early-season duty in grades freshmen through seniors, with 36 of those being from the two most veteran grades, including a program-best 21 juniors, but the lowest two grade levels featuring just eight players in the sophomore class. Four of this fall’s seniors will bring back a vast majority of returning contributions made during last season’s State Championship run for the Tribe.

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