Bulldogs hungry for battle

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Pictured is the 2021 Waterloo High School football team, front row, from left, Brandon Lloyd, Kyle Johnson, Jack McFarlane, Braden Purcell, Alexis Stephens, Evan Davis, Ethan Toms, Aidan Morrow and Koby Osterhage; second row: Joey Ahrens, Adron Winget, Nick Patton, Keegan Conaway, Ian Liefer, Bryce Reese, Dane Barnes and Aiden Hunter; third row: Colin Yaekel, Noah Meyers, Chase Veto, Josh Dluhy, Drew Rose, Max Mitchell, Josh Perez, Curtis Crossen and Hunter Gould; fourth row: Adam Lechner, Tanner Fry, Anthony Chadeayne, Jack Stewart, Jason Hooser, Nate Phillips, Grayson Frenick and Brady Stumpf; fifth row: Ethan Horvath, AJ Lattimore, Nathan Chitty, Levi Zeiger, Dylan Jackson, Jack Roessler, Eric Williams, Wyatt Fink and Anthony Maxey; back row: Manager Janella Neary and coaches Tony Morrow, Eric Major, Chase Guercio, Dan Rose, Joe Habermehl, Matt Lucash, Louie Aguiar and Jake Schneider. Not pictured are Kreighton Bair and Anthony Irovic.

The Waterloo High School football team is hungry to show its recent return to winning was no fluke.

The Bulldogs, under veteran head coach Dan Rose, surprised many in the always tough Mississippi Valley Conference this spring, bolting out to a 4-0 record in the Mississippi Valley Bowl Series before falling at home to Collinsville and then forfeiting their final game due to COVID.

The keys to that success were its powerful offensive and defensive lines and solid play from its senior quarterback.

“We have the departure of Brett Howard and Evan Fink, who will be hard shoes to fill on the line, and Eric Brown, our QB,” WHS assistant coach Matt Lucash said.

Howard is now playing at the University of Tulsa.

 But there is a solid core returning from the spring season – notably in the offensive backfield.

Evan Davis rushed for nearly 650 yards and seven touchdowns as a sophomore. 

“It will be nice having our leading rusher for two more years,” Lucash said.

One of the senior captains this fall is Jack McFarlane, who rushed for over 200 yards and two scores and was also the team’s top return man. 

“We return a lot of our skill players on offense,” Lucash assessed. “Jack McFarlane is a vocal leader as a captain and provides a spark we need from the running back position.”

The starting QB for the ‘Dogs will be junior Aidan Morrow, who was thrust into action last year when senior signal caller Brown got injured.

Two senior captains, AJ Lattimore and Noah Meyers, will anchor the lines, which also include Anthony Maxey, Drew Rose, Keegan Conaway, Brady Stumpf, Kreighton Bair (another captain) and junior Nathan Chitty.

“AJ and Noah have been doing a fantastic job of getting our mostly senior line ready,” Lucash said.

 Another captain on the squad is Ethan Horvath, who brings some athleticism to the wide receiver position. 

Lucash said Waterloo’s defense is “as athletic as they have been” despite the size.

“We are a little undersized this year, but what we lack in size we make up for in athleticism,” he said. “Our defense has been quick to the ball in practice and loves to get big hits on people.”

Lucash said defensive coach Chase Guercio, who also serves as head coach of Waterloo’s wrestling program, has the players focusing on creating turnovers.

“Coach Guercio has our guys salivating to earn the turnover belt he got in the offseason,” Lucash said. “Guys like Brandon Lloyd, Max Mitchell, Tanner Fry, Bryce Reese and Aidan Hunter love to throw their bodies around on the field from the linebacker position.”

Reese had 29 total tackles, two quarterback sacks and a fumble recovery last season. 

Lloyd, a state qualifying wrestler, had 21 total tackles last season.

Lucash added that Waterloo’s defensive backs “have the athletic ability and the confidence to challenge our opponents’ receivers.”

All in all, the Bulldogs have put in the work and have important pieces back from a successful spring.

“Our guys have been doing a great job of getting ready in the pre-season,” Lucash said.

The tests come early and often, as Waterloo opens this Friday at home against Mater Dei and then hosts Monroe County rival Columbia on Sept. 3.

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