Rutledge reflects on football season

Charger football ended its season Thursday night with a 42-0 loss to Jackson Heights.

While the team struggled to a 1-8 record, coach Jess Rutledge saw a lot of progress for the football program.

How did the football program move forward this season?

“Our offseason work that was put in exceeded any previous season since I have been at Wabaunsee. Our numbers in the weight room, at team camp, and at our thud camps were all higher than last year. Our athletes’ maxes also increased a phenomenal amount from the summer of 2018. That needs to continue to improve, but we are most definitely on the right track. We also had a lot of younger players step into varsity playing positions, and that is a great thing to have for the upcoming season.

What did the team struggle with?

“It was a rough season all around. Injuries forced us to shuffle players around way more than I would ever want to do in a season. It is hard to build a consistency with what you want to do when that is happening on a weekly basis. We also need to be better at accepting the task at hand. Each week, we preach going 1-0 and getting better each day. That is something that I will work to instill even more for this next season; worrying about the things you can control and giving your very best every opportunity you have. Do not lean on excuses, but no one cares what they are, rather lean on each other and build as a team. I would like to do a lot more team-building exercises and activities this offseason to help with that.

The team graduates eight seniors: Jackson Frank, Dalton Turner, Elijah Wollenberg, Jakob Schutter, Keaton Johnson, Austin Miller, Frank Gilbert and Dan Flach. What impact did they have on the program?

“This senior class will definitely be missed. They are a group of great kids and guys that have had to fight hard to help change the direction of Wabaunsee football. As someone that spends every single day with them, I can tell you that it is happening, and these kids are a big reason for that. I feel for them because they will not be players that will see the fruits of their labors, but know that they are what helped turn the tide. It will be difficult to replace such a great group: Jackson Frank was the leading receiver and was a jack of all trades on defense, playing four different positions and still coming in 3rd on the team in total tackles; Keaton led the team in tackles from his LB spot and played guard and tackle exceptionally well; Dan Flach anchored the OL and DL; Eli Wollenberg led the team in interceptions and was our third leading receiver; Austin Miller rotated around the OL & DL as he was needed and played very tough for us; Dalton stepped up big time and played LB for the majority of the season, collecting over 40 tackles; Frank Gilbert did a really good job at filling in whenever and wherever he was needed; and Jackob Schutter was having a great year until breaking his collarbone. They will all be missed greatly

Which non seniors had a big impact?

“Cade Oliver had an exceptional season at QB. His completion percentage and yards passing all increased from last year. I’m very excited to see the next step he takes as a junior next year.”

“Derek Wallin had a big year at defensive end for us. He was 4th in tackles and led the team in tackles for loss and sacks. Offensively, he started the year at center, but moved to RB when an injury dropped our depth there. The move was rather seamless and he did a great job learning the position on the fly.”

“Maverick Havenstein and Jacob Meseke had to play a lot of varsity minutes this year on both sides of the ball as freshmen. That is never an easy task, and while they have room to improve, I was very proud of them. They never complained, never made excuses, and gave everything they had. They will be big time players for us next year if they continue to improve.”

“Dawson Schultz was Mr. All-Around for our team this year. He was our second leading receiver, second in tackles, and had almost 400 yards returning kicks this year. I cannot say enough about him as a young man and football player. He is the perfect embodiment of what hard work and attacking each day to get better is all about. He will be a great senior leader for us next year.”

Photo by Sarah Vanstory.

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