WAHOO – The Warriors have lost a total of four games the past two seasons.
Norfolk Catholic beat the Warriors twice in 2017 and Aurora dealt the Warriors their only two losses a year ago.
The Knights and Huskies combined to finish 26-0 and saw their seasons end in Lincoln while clutching the Class C-1 championship trophy.
Veteran Coach Chad Fox and the 2019 Warriors return the requisite talent, depth, athleticism, size and experience to find themselves in a similar situation come mid-November.
Fox enters his 18th season at Wahoo High School with a record of 116-53 and has led three teams to the Class C-1 semifinals (2011, 2017, 2018) only to see his team come up one game short of playing for the title.
“I think we have a group that understands the expectations we have for them. They are accountable, they work hard and when you combine that with talent, you have a chance to do some special things,” Fox said.
This year’s Wahoo team could be Fox’s best in nearly two decades and it starts with the guys up front.
The Warriors talent, size and depth along the offensive and defensive line is enough to make opponents nervous and it’s only mid-August.
Three players have a chance to earn all-state status at year’s end.
Seniors Brandon Swahn, Callan Phillips and Gunnar Vanak have played a lot of football for three years and are adept at plowing the road for Wahoo’s power run game.
Vanek, 6’3” 250, has started at center the past two seasons and barks out blocking schemes and pass protections like a technician.
Phillips, 6’0” 240, is called the best all-around linemen on the team by his head coach.
Swahn, 6’0” 205, is best known for his disruptive play on the defensive side of the ball, but his aggressive attitude and agility also serves him well at offensive guard.
Seniors Kalon Cooper (220), Logan Brabec (190), Evan Divis (210) and junior Justin Nuckolls (210) are all competing for the other two starting spots along the offensive line.
Senior tight end Nate Fox also returns and at 6’3” 200 pounds is like another lineman in the Warrior run game.
“It’s as complete of a group that I have had here. We have eight or nine guys that we can rotate and not drop off much,” Fox added.
With the talent up front, don’t be surprised if the Warriors surpass last season’s rush total of 3,332 yards.
Running behind the studs up front will be returning all-stater Trevin Luben. Luben led all of C-1 with a school record 2,215 yards to go along with 29 touchdowns in just 11 games.
“Trev had unbelievable season for us. He carried the load for us, especially late in the year. He is capable of that, but I think we are going to be able to spread some of the carries around,” Fox stated.
Sophomore Collin Ludvik also returns in the backfield after rushing for nearly 500 yards and five touchdowns as a freshman.
Senior fullback Peyten Walling also returns. He is a devastating lead blocker and is adept at catching the ball out of the backfield.
“We have good depth in the offensive backfield,” Fox added.
Senior quarterback Thomas Waido returns for his second season under center for Wahoo. At 6’3” 180 pounds Waido has the size and arm to push the ball downfield in the passing game. He passed for 940 yards and eight scores last season as a junior.
It is Waido’s intelligence that stands out to his head coach.
“Thomas is a smart kid. He has the ability to get us into the right play based on what he sees at the line of scrimmage. He is way ahead of where he was at this time last year,” Fox stated.
Junior Cooper Hancock and senior Luke Partridge return at receiver after starting last year. They combined to catch 40 balls for more than 600 yards.
In all, the Warriors return nine starters on the offensive side of the ball a year after averaging more than 35 points a game.
Wahoo also returns nine starters on defense, a year after allowing 155 total points in 12 games (65 total points allowed in 10 games against teams not named Aurora).
Senior linebacker Kole Bordovsky is back after an all-state caliber type season in 2018.
Overshadowed by all-stater Sam Kolterman, Bordovsky quietly led the team in tackles with 127, including seven tackles for loss, three sacks and an interception.
“Kole really developed into the leader of our defense at the end of the season. He made all of the calls and did a good job of getting us into the proper alignment,” Fox said.
Swahn returns at defensive tackle where he made life miserable for opposing offenses last year as a junior.
Cooper, Phillips and Vanek all played a lot on the defensive side of the football last season and will bolster the defensive front.
Walling, Brabec and junior Grant Kolterman return at linebacker and will team with Bordovsky to provide the Warriors the top linebacking corps in C-1.
Kolterman finished with 73 tackles last season as a sophomore and when healthy has all-state playmaking ability.
All four starters return in the secondary. Partridge and Waido at corner and Hancock and Luben at safety. All four players can run and have high football IQ’s.
Wahoo’s schedule is same as a year ago. The team’s combined to finish 50-39 in 2018 and three, Aurora, West Point-Beemer and Bishop Neumann made the playoffs.
Wahoo will open the season on Aug. 30 at home against the Wayne Blue Devils.
“Our schedule will challenge us. We will need to be ready to play each week starting in week one against a tough Wayne team,” Fox added.