WYNOT — It wasn’t an ideal season for the Wynot Blue Devils a year ago.
Head coach Lee Heimes has led the program for 20 years and in 2018-19, Wynot struggled to a 9-14 record.
That was a big difference from qualifying for the state finals in 2016-2018 and 2011-2013, including winning the Class D-2 state title in 2013.
The season ended abruptly with an early SubDistrict loss to Osmond, which ended up earning state runner-up honors.
“We didn’t come out to a good start and we had one of our players get injured and that changed things for the rest of the year,” Heimes said. “We replaced a player (Hunter Heimes) with a lot of experience with one who didn’t have the same experience. Hunter was a post player and he did a lot with hustle plays and he was an interior guy who gave us a lot of put backs and was always in the right spot. He did a lot of the little things.”
It is Heimes who now must replace four starters from last year’s District D2-4 and Lewis and Clark Conference combatants.
“We have some height and length that could give some teams some problems,” Heimes said. “We are a team that works hard and wants to improve.”
Heimes has seven returning players including lone senior Hunter Heimes, juniors Anthony Haberman, Peyton Wieseler, Trystan Heimes, Owen Sudbeck and Garrett Lange and sophomore Jack Kuchta.
Hunter Heimes appears ready to go.
“He looks good, he played football, so he’s come a long way,” Lee Heimes said of Hunter’s recovery from a knee injury. “He’s close to where he was if he is not back all the way. We just needed to give him time and rest.”
The team lacks experience and depth even with the additions of sophomores Johnathan Dodge, Tyler Nicke and Tate Guenther, and freshmen Colin Wieseler and Timothy Steinhaus.
“We will be a very competitive team,” Heimes, who has a 289-160 record at the school, said. “We have the opportunity to be very good defensively and offensively. They are willing to work hard, and they are hungry. They want to be good. We have some size and length that we didn’t have last year and that makes a difference.
“These guys have grown up together, so hopefully, they can put it all together and improve.”
Heimes said Randolph and Emerson-Hubbard are the top post-season threats.
“They’ve got some scorers on their teams,” Heimes said. “Randolph plays a 1-3-1 defense which slows it down and makes it tough to score. They also have their top two scorers back. Emerson-Hubbard has most of their guys back as well.”
The season starts Thursday at Bloomfield.