Colors: Green, Black, Silver
Head Coach: Mike Speirs (23rd season) (210-42 record)
2017 record: 11-1 (lost to East Butler in State Semifinals)
Returning Starters: 3 offense 2 defense
The Howells-Dodge Football Team hopes to retool and reload after getting hit hard by graduation last year.
The Jaguars bring back 3 offensive and 2 defensive starters in seniors Kade Hegemann (6’0, 180 TE/LB, Lane Hegemann (6’4, 220 G/DE), and Dylan Horejsi (5’11, 175 RB).
Others likely to see the field and contribute for the Jaguars this season include seniors Josh Brester (6’0, 155 RB/DB), Carter Jensen (6’1, 210 OL/DL), Mitch Yosten (6’3, 195 SR OL/DL), and juniors Luke Rocheford (6’0, 155 RB/DB), Charlie Dvorak (5’10, 165 RB/DB), Darrin Pokorny (6’1, 155 QB/DB), Trevor Schumacher (6’1, 175 TE/LB), Carter Throener (5’11, 210 OL/DL), and Kyle Pickhinke (6’0, 285 OL/DL).
One big loss from last year’s team is Quarterback Dax VanLengen.
Head Coach Mike Speirs says the team had a lot of fun at the Chadron State Camp over the summer. “We had a good summer. The kids put in a lot of time and effort in the weightroom. And that hopefully will just translate into the fall. And we actually just do one camp. We go out to Chadron State. And that was relatively early this year. We were out there June 4th, 5th, and 6th. And it’s kind of become an annual thing. I guess we’ve been going out there now for 20 some years. That’s kind of where we go. The kids look forward to it. And it’s an awful lot of fun. I grew up out in that area so it’s kind of my home neck of the woods I guess you could say. But it’s kind of become our thing is to go out there to Chadron. We’re one of the teams that travels the farthest to get there. And the kids just enjoy the heck out of that.”
Speirs says the team also did some 5 on 5 stuff with a couple other schools this summer.
Speirs adds the battle up front is going to be key. “I think for this team to have a chance to have success we’ve got to develop some consistency in our offensive line. We’re going to be a run first team, that’s kind of what we do, what we’ve always done, and when our kids up front understand where we’re trying to go and what we’re trying to do we’re a lot better off.”
Speirs says the Jaguars had to replace all 3 of their defensive backs from last season.
Bob Jensen of the Huskerland Prep Report says watch out for Lane and Kade Hegemann as well as Horejsi. “Kade Hegemann is one of those kids, he’s just a perfect example of a great 8-man football player. He’s not going to wow you with his size or anything like that, but the kid is just a bulldog, and he’s going to find a way to be in on every tackle or so it would seem. Lane is going to be a real good piece of the line and I mean that. 220, 225. Dylan Horejsi is the running back that I think a lot of people know about because he’s been a headliner for a couple of years now. And one thing about it, in the Howells-Dodge offense, they’re going to want to run the ball a lot. And you can do a whole lot worse than handing the ball to him. The kid ran for like 1600 yards last year.”
Jensen projects the Jaguars to win 6 or 7 regular season games and make the playoffs.
The Howells-Dodge Football Team has a very challenging schedule this year.
The Jaguars open up with Clarkson/Leigh on the road on Friday.
Speirs says the game against the Patriots has a lot of meaning. “And ever since I’ve been here in Howells that’s always been a battle no matter what the teams’ records were that’s been a battle because it’s kind of a local rivalry. We kind of started it as a rivalry game. It’s now we call it Bacon Bowl. And we have a traveling trophy. And the kids the last couple of years have gotten into it. Our kids talk about it all the time. About that we got to do everything we can to win the Bacon Bowl.”
The Jaguars host Guardian Angels Central Catholic in Week 2 in action that can be heard on 107.9 the Bull.
After that it’s a tough game at Wakefield then back-to-back home games against Lutheran High Northeast and Neligh-Oakdale to open up district play.
Speirs says a lack of experience and leadership could be his team’s downfall this year. “With only 3 returning starters and only a few others who have game experience, our weakness is definitely game experience. An honest assessment of our team is that unless those returners step up their leadership, we may struggle this fall. Our schedule is difficult enough with what could be expected to be 3 of the top teams in D-1 in our first 5 games. Our team strength level is low and that is a major weakness at this time.”
Howells-Dodge is in District D1-5 with Madison, Laurel-Concord-Coleridge, Neligh-Oakdale, Lutheran High Northeast, and Elkhorn Valley.
2018 Howells-Dodge Jaguars Football Schedule:
08/24/18 @ Clarkson/Leigh
08/31/18 Guardian Angels Central Catholic
09/07/18 @ Wakefield
09/21/18 Lutheran High Northeast
10/05/18 @ Elkhorn Valley
10/19/18 @ Madison