FALL SPORTS PREVIEW: Potts, Yeager to lead Comets on both sides of ball
A road trip to play Iowa City Regina? Not this year.
The Cardinal Comets walk into the 2014 season with a fresh new class assignment. Class 1A District 6, which last season contained foes like state champion Iowa City Regina, Wilton, Eddyville-Blakesburg and West Branch, is in the rearview mirror.
“We knew every week it was going to be an uphill battle, but our guys always played hard,” coach Adam Hadenfeldt said. “There was rarely a time we walked off the field where I felt like [my players] didn’t play their hearts out.”
Class A District 6 should be more to the Comets’ liking. Cardinal will get the opportunity to play close proximately rivals such as Van Buren and Pekin, and those overall shorter travel distances should keep the team fresher. WACO, Winfield-Mount Union, Danville, Lone Tree and New London were placed in the district as well.
Even with the new class designation, the approximate 35 Cardinal players will need to be ready for a battle every week. Pekin, Lone Tree, Van Buren and WACO made the postseason in 2013.
Two seniors are leading Cardinal into this season. Brandon Potts will start at quarterback and start at outside linebacker once again. He will be joined by middle linebacker and fullback Nathan Yeager, who is the glue that holds the Comets together.
“Nathan has started every game for us since his freshman year,” Hadenfeldt said. “He’s such a physical presence, and he’s also a calming influence on his teammates.”
Yeager made 135 total tackles last season, and will likely need to put forth another spectacular performance in 2014. Defensive calls and getting the guys lined up is just one of Yeager’s responsibilities, and that will be tougher to do this season with the youth surrounding him. The entire starting secondary from last season has graduated, meaning the defensive line and linebackers will have to rush the passer consistently to help defensive backs.
Joining Yeager and Potts in the middle of defense will likely be Chase Courtney. Quinn Honomichl, Tyler Albert and Trenton Durflinger will likely see line at linebacker also. On the defense line, four seniors, Adam Giltner, Kaleb Durflinger, Logan Rachford and Nate Steele will see the majority of the playing time.
Offensively, lefty quarterback Potts will have many new faces out at receiver. A collection of junior and sophomores, led by Dakota Miller and Drayton Hamm, will end up being the answer here.
“It takes a while to learn the ins and outs of being a good receiver,” Hadenfeldt said. “We have a whole new crop of young bucks out there.”
The tight end position however, will be covered. Senior Kaleb Durflinger might be moved inside to play tackle occasionally, but his soft hands and lofty frame will make him a strong tight end candidate.
“Kaleb probably has the best hands on the team to be honest,” Hadenfeldt said. “Last season was his first playing football, and late in the year he really started to figure things out.”
Another position where there will be not a competition is running back. Senior Tyler Albert, who rushed for 541 yards and six touchdowns last year before being weighed down by a foot injury, will get the first team snaps. Rachford, Giltner and Dylan Guiter will lead the blocking up front.
Cardinal’s season will start at Southeast Warren before the Comets host their first game against North Mahaska on Sept. 5.
2014 Cardinal Football Varsity Schedule
8/29 @ Southeast Warren
9/05 vs. North Mahaska
9/12 @ Winfield-Mount Union
9/19 @ Lone Tree
9/26 vs. WACO
10/03 @ Pekin
10/10 vs. Danville
10/17 @ New London
10/24 vs. Van Buren
Class A District 6 2013 Records
Team, Conference Record, Overall Record
Pekin* 6-1 9-3
Lone Tree* 5-2 6-4
WACO* 5-2 5-5
Van Buren* 4-3 5-5
Winfield-Mt. Union 2-5 3-6
Danville 1-6 2-7
New London 1-6 2-7
Cardinal 0-6 1-8
* – 2013 Playoff Qualifier
** – Cardinal spent last season in Class 1A District 6 with Sigourney-Keota, Iowa City Regina, West Branch, Wapello, Wilton and Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont.
Head Coach: Adam Hadenfelt, 4th season
Key Returnees: FB/LB Nathan Yeager (Sr.), QB/LB Brandon Potts (Sr.), OL/DL Logan Rachford (Sr.)