Pigskin Preview: Gothenburg Swedes
The Swedes open 2020 with a familiar opponent: the Cozad Haymakers.
NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - Coach Craig Haake and the Gothenburg Swedes are ready to start an unconventional season.
“I think they’re looking forward to Friday night. I know the coaching staff and I are,” Haake said. “It’s nice to get back to something that resembles normal.”
The Swedes started practices behind, unable to hold team camp or conditioning.
“It was pretty tough not having all that stuff,” said senior running back and linebacker Owen Geiken. “We’re pretty young, but [the younger players] seem to pick up stuff quick. It looks good, at least. We’ve got a lot of learning to do, but I think it should go well.”
The Swedes graduated a whopping 17 players last year, so this year’s roster will look very different than the one that went 8-1.
“We’re definitely going to be a lot younger than in years past, but I feel like we’ll be able to pick things up and really get moving,” said senior lineman Riley Baker.
“They were not on the field a whole lot, but they were every bit a part of that team, and now it’s their turn to step up, get on the field, and make the plays,” Haake said.
One big hole to fill is that of three-year starting quarterback Maguire Bartlett, and Haake will give the ball to sophomore Wes Geiken.
“He’s a good athlete. He started on the basketball team last year as a freshman, he’ll be fine,” Haake said. “He has some bodies around him that have starting experience that he can kind of lean on, one of those an older brother. So, I honestly expect Wes to play well Friday night.”
In the backfield with Wes will be older brother Owen, and Owen has confidence his brother will play well.
“He’s just a sophomore, but he plays like a senior, he’s way more mature for his age. I’m really proud of him, he’s a great athlete, and I think he’ll do well for us,” Owen Geiken said.
Week one, the Swedes have a familiar opponent on the schedule, with Dawson County rival Cozad in town.
“Cozad and Gothenburg I think have played for well over one hundred years,” Haake said. “I think it’s going to be a great Southwest Conference football game.”
For a young roster, like Gothenburg has, starting the season with a team they’re familiar with is beneficial, because the players have some experience facing the Haymaker roster.
“Especially us seniors, we’ve played them all four years throughout high school, and in junior high. We know them pretty well, we know their tendencies, their mindset, stuff like that,” Owen Geiken said.
Between Friday’s game being the season opener, a rivalry game, and the first football game since the start of the pandemic, the Swedes expect a great atmosphere from both fan bases.
“Both communities do a great job of supporting athletics, and I think you’ll see a good crowd out Friday night, just a lot of excitement in the air,” Haake said.
“I expect there to be a lot of excitement, for people to just be able to get out of the house and go watch a Friday night football game,” Baker said.
Gothenburg 2020 schedule
9/04 @ Kearney Catholic
9/11 Broken Bow
9/18 @ St. Paul
10/02 @ Mitchell
10/16 @ Chadron
Copyright 2020 KNOP. All rights reserved.