WATERLOO — There are more numbers and more competition than there has been for awhile on the Waterloo West football practice field these days.
That makes head coach Lonnie Moore a happy camper with just a few days left until the Wahawks host Waterloo East to kick off the 2019 season.
“They’re really working hard,” said West’s veteran leader. “Our numbers are up to about 48 kids for varsity football. We haven’t had those numbers the last couple of years so I’m happy about that.
“The guys are really buying into the ‘Wahawk Tough’ motto this year. We’ve done some things to test their toughness and right now they’re passing the test.”
West returned a solid nucleus of eight offensive starters and six on defense along with eight more who saw varsity action from a team that began the 2018 season 3-1 before dropping all five of its district games.
The veterans include quarterback Carter Maske (1,188 passing yards), running back Isaac Tolbert (667 rushing yards) and receiver Mondre Lagow (15 receptions, 145 yards). Offensive linemen Nate Bauler, Javarious Burris and Adam Teare are back, as is tight end Clayton Rottinghaus. On defense, Nate Ewell returns at linebacker with linemen Micheal Robinson Jr., Adis Sabic, Armin Kuljuhovic and Lagow and Tolbert in the secondary.
“One big thing this year has just been fundamentals,” said Moore. “I thought that kind of went down a little bit at the end of last season. We took at look at what we were doing in the program and changed some things. Some of it we kind of blamed ourselves as coaches.
“We’ve got to make sure the kids continue to do the right things and be fundamentally sound on both sides of the ball.”
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Moore said the defense has performed at a little higher level than the offense thus far in camp. That isn’t unexpected.
“A lot of it is making sure fundamentally we’re doing things right,” he explained. “That’s coming along. We’re getting there. We made some changes to what we do offensively, so the guys are still learning those changes.”
Among the pleasant surprises so far are two players who could have an impact on offense.
“Adnan Rizvanovic has kind of jumped out at the tight end position,” said Moore. “He has never played tight end, but he’s doing a great job for us. Then there’s Daquavion Walker (a transfer from Waterloo East), who is a very good athlete who is learning our system.
“He’s trying to get the fundamentals down at his positions at wide receiver and cornerback and learning a lot of the things that we want.”
The Wahawks scrimmaged Cedar Rapids Washington Friday night before setting their lineup for the opener.
“There are some position battles out there still,” said Moore. “At wide receiver we have some good battles going on. Who will be our four to six guys we can trust to be out on the field? Offensive line is another one. We’ll be young there, and the scrimmage will help us out.
“Those are two crucial areas we’re still trying to figure out.”