New faces, same goals for Eagles football
The 2015 Columbia High School football team soared through a perfect regular season and won its first round playoff contest before being bounced out by Mater Dei for an 11-1 overall record.
In the Cahokia Conference, the Eagles have won 24 straight games dating back to 2011. Under head coach Scott Horner, Columbia has compiled a 108-49 record in his 15 seasons and has made the Class 4A playoffs five straight seasons.
Despite the return this season of just one starter on offense and four on defense, the goals remain the same for Columbia: win conference and win the state playoffs.
“The difference from last year is that we’re much smaller and inexperienced on the offensive and defensive lines, less experience all around,” Horner said. “Thus, mentally, we need game experience.”
One key returning player is linebacker and offensive lineman Owen Suedkamp. The 5-foot-11, 215-pound senior broke a long-standing school record for tackles last season with 163 — 116 of them solo.
“Without question, Owen is the heart and soul to our football team,” Horner said. “He is our heartbeat, especially on defense. He is tough, he is smart and he lets his actions on the field do his talking.”
What the Eagles lack in experience entering this season may be made up for with speed and skill, Horner said.
“Our strengths are with our skill players,” he said. “We have plenty of speed and athletic ability; playmaker-type guys who are also very good in the secondary on defense.”
At quarterback, Horner said he is undecided between senior Greg Long and junior Jordan Holmes filling the starting position manned last season by Drew Huebner. Either way, both Long and Holmes will be heavily involved in the offense in some capacity.
Last year, Holmes scored five total touchdowns to go along with 554 yards receiving.
Long scored two touchdowns with 231 yards rushing in 2015 in addition to serving as the team’s placekicker.
If Long is not at quarterback, he will likely play at running back along with fellow returning player Colton Byrd. The junior scored seven total touchdowns last season with 375 yards rushing.
Another key returning player is junior Mitch Daniels, who will play wide receiver and defensive back.
Other key players for the Eagles this season include junior offensive and defensive linemen Chris and Kyle Schreckenberg, along with senior linemen Brendan and Ethan Gamble and Cole Napier.
The Schreckenbergs are each listed at 6-foot-3 and 250 and 230 pounds, respectively. Napier is 6-foot-4, 210 pounds.
Another big body on both the offensive and defensive lines is 250-pound junior Hunter James.
The Eagles open their 2016 campaign at Morton before hosting the rival Waterloo Bulldogs on Sept. 2. Columbia then plays at Dupo on Sept. 9.