MAXWELL, Neb. (KNOP) - The Maxwell Wildcats won their first two games last season, outscoring opponents 178-60 in those games. However, as the season wore on, injuries took their toll on the Wildcats, and they only won one of their final six games.
The Wildcats look to bounce back from an injury-plagued 2018 season. They host Morrill week on (Credit: Patrick Johnstone/KNOP-TV)
"We kind of bit the injury bug last year, and because of that, I think we put some kids on the field who maybe weren't ready last year, and that will be a blessing in disguise for this year. They got some experience, there are more veterans than we usually have, as far as returners," head coach Ryan Jones said.
This year, the Wildcats have five returners on offense, and six returners on defense. In addition to that, Jones hopes the team will benefit by having players who gained playing time last year due to injuries, will use that experience to contribute this season. Also, Jones is excited about some of the players on this year's roster who played junior varsity and junior high school last season.
"We have some kids that have done real well in JV games, and we've got some stud freshmen that just dominated in junior high. In a small, D-2 program, we're going to put freshmen out there if we think they're ready, and that's also exciting as well," Jones said.
Having young players with experience playing in important games could pay off on Friday nights this season.
"I think we put in a lot of hard work and I think we'll be pretty good," said junior fullback Dalton Whisenhunt. "We've been young for a long time, so all of us have played quite a bit. We're getting to the point where we have a lot of seniors and juniors that have been starting for three or four years."
"I think we have a lot of energy coming straight off the bat. We've got a lot of returners coming, so we're going to be able to keep working together very well and hit the other line pretty hard," said senior lineman Seth Simcox.
Coach Jones says the biggest point of emphasis for the early practices this season is the team's defense.
"We're really focusing on defense this year. We didn't tackle a whole lot of kids last year," Jones laughed, "so that's been a point of emphasis for us this year. We've got to do better on the defensive side of the ball, we've got to get to the ball better, we've got to make open field tackles, and we've just got compete on that side of the ball better," he added.
Heading into week one, Jones is confident in this year's squad.
"Our kids are fresh we're healthy and we're ready to roll. I think we can have a pretty successful football season this year," Jones said.
Whisenhunt is also confident in this year's team, and hopes they can have a post-season run.
"Our goal is to go to the playoffs, and win a playoff game," Whisenhunt said.
The Wildcats will host Morrill week one, on Aug. 30.
Maxwell 2019 Schedule
Aug. 30: v Morrill
Sep. 13: @Overton
Sep. 19: v Garden County
Sep. 27: v Medicine Valley
Oct. 4: @Sandhills/Thedford
Oct. 11: v Leyton/Banner County
Oct. 18: @Mullen
Oct. 24: v Brady