Waukee made a name for itself last season with a nearly unstoppable rushing game.
The Warriors accumulated the third-most rushing yards in Class 4A, and behind a bruising offensive line, Trevor Allen ran for 1,265 yards and 21 touchdowns, tying for the most rushing scores in Class 4A.
With the team’s top four rushers returning, and four of the team’s five offensive linemen also back, the rushing game will continue to be a strength. But they hope to strike a balance with a renewed focus on the passing game.
"One of the challenges for us will be at the quarterback position. We have no tested returning players at that position," said coach Scott Carlson, whose team went 8-3 last season. "We’ll also need to improve the receiving group on offense to have better offensive balance."
Senior Matt Hoeg and sophomore Ben Ferkin are competing for the quarterback job.
"Although we have always been a run-first team, one of our priorities on offense this year is to establish a better balance between the running and passing game," Carlson said. "Both of our quarterbacks should give us a chance to improve in that category compared to last season."
First-team all-division pick Ross Reynolds returns to the offensive line, as well as second-teamer Will Pigg, honorable mention Chris Kickbush and senior Jordan Graham. Besides Trevor Allen, A.J. Allen (473 yards, seven touchdowns), Kyle Boulanger (418 yards, three touchdowns) and Patrick Gray (288 yards, four touchdowns) are also back.
Michael Jacobson, who caught nine passes for 93 yards a year ago, will help shore up the receiving corps. Also back is Alex Sturm, who led the team with 18 receptions for 374 yards and three touchdowns.
The Warriors will have to replace plenty of parts from last season’s defense, but all-state lineman A.J. Allen will help. He had 44 tackles and eight sacks last season. Also back are lineman Nick Tweeten and defensive back Matt Corbett.
Huge senior and junior classes give Carlson 18 other returning letterwinners on which to call, giving the team a level of depth that will help counteract last year’s losses to graduation.
"This team has the potential to be a very solid group, but we have many question marks going into the season at several positions," Carlson said. "We have added quality depth as we have two large classes back in our junior and senior groups."