Every season, high school football coaches from all across the country deal with loss of star talent due to graduation. The state of Iowa is no different and the Dallas Center-Grimes football team is no different either.
The 2017 campaign was a magical run for head coach Scott Heitland who led the Mustangs to a 10-1 record and the program’s 13th state playoff appearance. That team consisted of 26 seniors who have since graduated and moved on from the high school ranks.
Now, when you look at the make up of the 2018 Mustang roster, you might notice some glaring holes. You might notice the lack of 79 total tackles by Trent Carpenter or the 12 tackles for loss by Brady Simmons. You might notice the absence of 1,105 rushing yards by Tanner Epple which ranked inside Class 3A’s top fifteen or you might notice the absence of 1,072 passing yards by Damon Clapper. There’s no doubt about it, the 2018 Mustang football team has some holes that need to be filled. Despite all of that however, the new age Mustangs alongside coach Hetiland in his 14th year at the helm, feel just about the same as they always have.
“It’s definitely a challenge for us as a coaching staff with so many holes to fill,” began Heitland. “The thing about it is if the younger players have done their part, and we as coaches have done our part, we should be just as strong as we were last year. Now will the athletes preform like that of a Trent Carpenter, a Tanner Epple, or Damon Claper? We’ll just have to play the game to find out.”
Coach Heitland brought up an interesting point about how the Mustangs have found themselves in similar waters before.
“I’m not too worried overall just because we’ve been through something like this before,” said Heitland. “After a nice 2015 season we had to re-tool for 2016 and that led to the 10-1 season we had last year. We pride ourselves on our upperclassmen but we also pride ourselves on our youth. A lot of these athletes who will be on varsity this season got the chance to see what it was like and the intensity needed at the varsity level from the likes of Epple, Hansen, and so forth so they already know what it takes. Now it’s just a matter of execution.”
That same presence of feeling like the same dangerous team they’ve always have been is very well and alive with each and every player as well.
“We may have lost some key players from last year but we’ll be just as good of a team this year,” began senior defensive star Rowan Collins. “Our coaches have done a great job of making us fall back on our preparation and we rise to any occasion that comes to us.”
Fellow senior Rudy Stallman talked about success as including more than just talent.
“It takes more than just talent to be a great team,” began Stallman. “You can be the most skilled team in the world but if you don’t have the drive and you don’t have the team chemistry, you’re not going to be successful. This team has the drive and passion and you can see that every single practice.”
Both Stallman and Collins are two of 13 seniors and 63 total athletes on the 2018 roster. Stallman, Collins, and the rest of the Mustangs have T-minus eight days before the silently potent DC-G team hits game one of the 2018 campaign in a home contest against the Pella Dutch.