Colors: Green, Black, Silver
Head Coach: Mike Speirs (21st season) (192-38 record)
2015 record: 3-6 (lost to High Plains in First Round of Playoffs)
Returning Starters: 4 offense 4 defense
The Howells-Dodge Jaguars hope to get back to form after injuries plagued them a season ago.
Returning starters for Head Coach Mike Speirs include 4 2-way starters in Zach Bayer (5’11” 195 lb senior who started at TE and LB). Jordon Brichacek (5’10” 170 lb Junior who started at RB and DB), Ryan Macholan (6’3” 220 lb Junior who started in the OL and DL), and Kade Hegemann (5’10” 175 lb Sophomore who started at LB and TE).
Speirs says a number of starting spots are still up for grabs. “We are not really sure about our starters yet. We know that the 4 returners will be starting, however there is still battles at all other positions that have yet to be decided.”
Other players expected to play for Howells-Dodge include Dax VanLengen (6’2, 185 JR QB/DB), Jon Yosten (5’9, 170 JR RB/DB), Tanner Coufal (5’7, 165 SR RB/LB), Brett Fiala (5’9, 180 SR OL/DL), Lane Hegemann (6’3, 205 SO OL/DL), Dylan Horjesi (5’11, 175 SO RB/LB), and Conner Blum (5’11, 180 JR QB/DB).
Speirs says QB and the line is where the Jaguars lost the most from last year. “We lost a lot of our offense in Tyler Polacek. He was our QB, but also our leading rusher and return man. In addition, we lost a lot of experienced linemen in last year’s class.”
Despite all the injuries Howells-Dodge dealt with last year, they still managed to make the playoffs. Speirs says avoiding injuries is really critical this season. “Staying healthy will be even bigger for us this year. We do not have the same depth in the lines that we had last year. If we can stay healthy, we feel that we can be a competitive team and have a chance to win a lot of games.”
Howells-Dodge is hoping to get back to form this year, or at the very least, take some steps in the right direction to get back to form.
Speirs says having a challenging schedule isn’t a bad thing, “A challenging schedule has the benefit of focusing your team each week and forcing them to get better in order to compete. When you do not have a game where your players go in feeling they have a physical superiority to the opponent, they will work harder during the week to give them a chance to be competitive.”
The Jaguars lost a fairly close game at Nebraska Christian last year, and a really close game at Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family to end the regular season in 2015. Speirs says winning close games will go a long way in winning a playoff game. “In order to get past the first round we need to make sure we are in a position to win the close games which we lost last year. Getting a first round home game increases your chances to advance in the playoffs.”
Speirs says new players must emerge on offense and on the lines. “Our success this season will rest on finding offensive production from sources who did not have to produce last year and in finding 2 guards for our offensive line. On defense we feel that our back 5 have the experience to compete, finding D-lineman will be our challenge to making our season. ”
Bob Jensen of the Huskerland Prep Report says the Jaguars will be young. “It’s a team that’s not terribly deep, but there’s some good younger players on that team. Not a lot of upperclassmen if I’m remembering correctly, but Howells-Dodge will be competitive. And again everybody plays a tough schedule, but they play a pretty stout schedule.”
The Jaguars open up the season at East Butler, a team that went undefeated in the regular season a year ago.
Howells-Dodge’s first home game is against Osmond, and then Omaha Nation comes to town.
The Jaguars have back-to-back road games at Neligh-Oakdale and Elgin Public/Pope John to start district play before taking on Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family at home.
Howells-Dodge is then at Homer, who drops down from C-2, the second to last week of the regular season before hosting rival Clarkson/Leigh in the final game of the regular season.
Mike Speirs’ District Predictions:
4) Elgin Public/Pope John
2016 Howells-Dodge Jaguars Football Schedule:
08/26/16 @ East Butler
09/09/16 Omaha Nation
09/23/16 @ Neligh-Oakdale
09/30/16 @ Elgin Public/Pope John
10/07/16 Humphrey/Lindsay Holy Family
10/14/16 @ Homer