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New season is now underway as practice begins here

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Cedar Catholic has experience back, but lacks depth

HARTINGTON - As football season approaches, Cedar Catholic has a few questions to answer, but one of those will not be who is starting at running back.

After running for 1,473 yards and 19 touchdowns, Jacob Keiser returns for his junior season with the Trojans. Keiser shared time with seniors Jackson Eickhoff and Austin Arens last year, but he earned a majority of the carries. Don’t expect that to change, with fullback Eric Hoesing taking Arens place. The other running back spot is yet to be determined.

A question Cedar will need to answer is who will be at quarterback. Cedar was able to fill that role last year with senior Dain Whitmire, but head coach Chad Cattau says he looks to fill the spot with a sophomore this year.

“Right now it is Myles Thoene's position to lose,” said Cattau. “Matthew Becker will be available in case we need him and Tate Thoene will also be getting some looks. All three can do what we are asking of them so hopefully they continue to develop each day in practice.”

Myles Thoene will look to take a much bigger role after playing just some safety as a freshman. Thoene was one of the top performers in the summer workout program, as his 5-10-5 shuttle time dropped half a second to 4.26, and his max squat is now over 350. Thoene also made a name for himself as a freshman on the basketball team when he set the record for most three-pointers in a game with 10.

Senior Matthew Becker has also stepped into the competition after playing receiver last year. In the run heavy Trojan offense though, Becker only grabbed five receptions for 64 yards and a touchdown.

There are also some questions regarding who will protect the quarterback. Cedar graduated three starting lineman, but return all-state blocker Rex Becker. 

“ I am expecting Rex to have a great year on both sides of the ball,” said Cattau. “He is going to have to step into a leadership role for us, especially on the offensive and defensive line. We really need others to elevate their game to match his.”

Cattau will look to replace graduates Quinn Paulsen, Jacob Haahr, and Marcus Arens, with help from his returning starters Becker and Derek Heimes.

Haahr’s younger brother Peyton will be a junior this year and looks to battle for one of the three starting spots with Ted Bengston, Ben Loecker, and Jacob Rohan. Rohan is the lone sophomore, with the rest being juniors.

On defense, the Trojans return their leader Josh Pinkelman. The rising senior led his team with 111 total tackles last year and two interceptions. 

“Josh is going to have to be even more of a vocal leader for us this year,” said Cattau. “I am looking for him to have a big year for us. He has a great knack for getting to the ball and being in the right place. We need that and even more out of him each and every game.”

Pinkelman is joined by Keiser at the second level, giving the Trojans experience in their linebacking core. 

Depth for Cedar may become an issue this year, as the team is young.

“We currently have 4 seniors on the team and we don't have a lot of experience,” said Cattau. “We will need to play some kids that in years past we probably wouldn't have because we only have 29 out. Hopefully we can develop quickly and be very competitive each week.”

The Cedar Catholic schedule will bring an added challenge to the Trojans. Norfolk Catholic and Aquinas Catholic have moved down from Class C1 to C2 and both teams are on the Trojans’ schedule. Norfolk Catholic won the Class C1 State Championship last year and will also be in Cedar’s district this year.

“Each week is going to be a new challenge for us.  We do not have any easy games this year so we need to be at our best each Friday night.  We will get that way by preparing hard each day in practice to put ourselves in the best position to win.  We play some very traditional powerhouses and some teams that are really on the rise so nothing will be easy this year.  I believe our kids will be ready for the challenges that lie ahead of us though.”