YUTAN – Two years removed from winning the school’s first ever state championship, the Yutan Chieftain football team is still in rebuild mode.
The Chieftains played a number of freshmen and sophomore’s last season while enduring a 3-6 campaign.
This year’s team will be young again, featuring a number of sophomores and juniors.
“We will be better than last year, but we will still be very young. We only have four seniors,” said Yutan Coach Dan Krajicek.
Krajicek enters his seventh season as the head coach and has compiled a record of 39-23 at Yutan.
Last season, the Chieftains went through some growing pains with a young team.
“We had five freshmen and six sophomores get significant playing time last season which should really help us this season,” he said.
The Chieftains started with two wins in their first three games, but five consecutive losses ended any chance that they had at making the playoffs.
Krajicek is high on seven freshmen and sophomore offensive and defensive linemen who he feels have a chance to be a ‘special group’.
One of those guys is 6-1, 225-pound freshman Quaran Cook, who is drawing comparisons to current Husker and former Chieftain Colton Feist.
“Quaran is going to be a special player. He will probably start for us both ways and will impact the game day one as a freshman,” said Krajicek.
Cook and the rest of the Chieftain offensive linemen will be entrusted to protect 155-pound sophomore quarterback Paul Kirchman.
Kirchman started a handful of games as a freshman and Krajicek feels that with some more experience the sophomore-signal caller has a chance to be a good player.
The Chieftains return seven starters on the offensive side of the football including junior running back Caden Egr.
Egr has good size (180) and is slippery enough to evade tacklers. He will get a bulk of the carries on the Chieftains pro-style offense.
The Chieftains are also expected to get a boost from first year player Brady Timm.
Timm was a member of the cross country team his freshman and sophomore years, but has decided play football in 2019.
“Brady is one of the best athletes in the school so having him out is going to help us out,” Krajicek added.
The Chieftains will look to improve on an offense that
averaged just over 13 points a game a year ago.
It’s on the defensive side of the ball where Krajicek feels like his team can make the most improvement.
The Chieftains allowed 24.9 points a game last season, but Krajicek feels like the 2019 defense can be much improved.
Much of the reason for optimism is due to the return of Egr and 170-pound sophomore Ethan Christensen.
The duo figure to pile up tackles while playing linebacker for the Chieftains.
“Those two guys have the potential to be two of the best linebackers I have had here,” added Krajicek.
Cook bolstering an improved defensive line will also free up the two backers to make plays sideline to sideline.
The Chieftains return eight starters on the defensive side of the ball.
The Chieftains have a chance to get the season off to a good start. Their first four opponents combined to finish just 14-23 last season.
The back end of the schedule figures to be more difficult with games looming against perennial powers Bancroft-Rosalie/Lyons-Decatur, Archbishop Bergan and Oakland-Craig.
The Chieftains will open the season on the road against the Freeman Falcons on Aug. 30.