Despite 2018 woes, varsity football has a bright future


Emily Farthing

Junior Evan Ranallo runs with the ball in the game against Harrisonville on Sept. 7 at the DAC. The Huskies dropped the game to the Wildcats, 29-24.

Blank Report, Ryan Blank

After the loss in the opening round of sub-state against No. 1 Gardner Edgerton, the Husky football team finished the season with an 0-9 record. However, the potential of the young core of players in the program will lead the Huskies back to the success that has been seen in previous years, when coach Steve Harms led the Huskies.

The 2018 season had been challenging not only for the fans, but also for the players. The Huskies lost seven of their nine games by 20 points or more, with the closest game being a heartbreaking loss to Harrisonville, 29-24 on Sept. 7. This season was not what the Huskies hoped it would be, but the program has a bright future with coach Clint Rider at the helm and the young core.

According to Rider, this season has been huge for the younger players on the team to get the experience that will be essential going into next season, with the Huskies losing three or four starters on each side of the ball.

“It’s also been really important and encouraging to see the progress of our freshmen,” Rider said. “We feel like that’s a group that really has a chance to make their mark at Northwest as long as they stay with it and learn discipline and hard work.”

Freshman quarterback, Mikey Pauley, who started the final two games of the season, is at Northwest for three more years and has multiple varsity starts heading into next season. He will compete with sophomore Thomas Manske and freshman Zack Yates for the starting quarterback job. With all three quarterbacks being underclassman, the coaches can adapt the offensive system around the skill set of the quarterback knowing that each of them will possibly be on the team for at least two more years.

Sophomore wide receiver, J. Michael Sturdivant, who has been hurt for the majority of the season, is primed for a spectacular season through a huge role in the offense next year with junior receivers Jake Dolesh, Evan Ranallo, and Andrew Kolpin. Freshman Steven Whitter has looked impressive throughout his freshman season as well. This receiver core is going to be explosive and dangerous to any defensive secondary in the EKL with any quarterback under center.

Running backs junior Edward Thomas and sophomore Avion Tucker will have an impact on the Husky offense next season. Add in freshman Josh Cusick, who also had an impressive season with the freshman team, and will establish a role for himself as a running back or wide receiver for the Huskies.

The offensive line is taking a huge hit next year losing Nate Kenney, Jack Young and Peyton Potts, who set the All-Time Northwest record in pancakes, a block that leaves a defensive player flat on his back as the running back goes through the hole. However, the Huskies have two young offensive lineman who already fill two spots on the line, freshman Cade Murphey, who had multiple starts this season, sophomore Tommy Varhall, who also played in multiple games this year, and Danny Robinson, heading into his senior season next year. This leaves two spots on the offensive line that will give junior varsity and freshman players a chance to make an impact on the program at the varsity level next year.

“I honestly think that every one of those younger guys is capable of stepping up into our positions,” Potts said. “I think everyone’s shown improvement and it’s gonna be a young offensive line next year, but they’re all ready to step up and play our positions.”

The defense this year was led by senior linebacker and captain, Jack Hungerford, who was a three-year varsity player that had been the heart of the defense.

The defensive side of the ball is where the younger players from the jv and freshman teams have the biggest chance of making an impact next year. With the starting defensive squad needing four players to fill the spots.

How does the team fill the void next year without Hungerford on defense? Will it be juniors Nick Schwarz, Sean Dunning or Ayomide Ejelonu? This offseason will give these three players a chance to show that they can be the next Hungerford for the defense.

“Since [we were] young this year, they’re gonna have a whole defense with experience,” Hungerford said. “So I think it will not be one person, but seven or eight who step up and take charge of the defense.”

The defense is also losing Logan Colon on the defensive line, who has made an impact up front with making some good plays stopping the run, and Matt McBride, who played quality snaps, but the Huskies front line has sophomore Leo Clennan and junior Klay Kramper who will fill the void.

The secondary is losing captain Luke Vega and Matt LaTendresse, both starters who have had impacts on the defense. Along with sophomore Isaiah Smith, juniors Hans Friemanis, Jacob Troutner, Ryan Callahan and Eastin White will compete to fill the two spots in the secondary.

The Huskies freshman team also had an impressive season, losing only one game this season. Players from the freshmen team are going to compete for many of the positions next year, which will create competition on the field with the sophomores and juniors returning next year.

Along with the current players in the program, the Huskies will add players from the middle school, including the top Harmony team that went 8-0 this season.

With the caliber of players from the middle schools and the players currently in the program, the Huskies are destined for success in the upcoming years under head coach Clint Rider.