(Audubon) With a good year in 2014, the Audubon football team could do what no other Wheeler squad has ever done. That’s make the playoffs three years in a row. The red and white has seen the postseason just a half dozen times in their history. Those playoff appearances have come in 1977, ’89, ’98, ’99, 2012 and 2013.
It won’t be easy to get back though as the defending district champion Wheelers are set to contend in a loaded district with Logan-Magnolia, St. Albert, Audubon and Griswold all in the top 10 of the Omaha World-Herald's Western Iowa preseason A/1A/2A rankings. The district also includes returning playoff qualifiers Riverside and Westwood. Rounding out the group are two teams moving down a class, MVAO and Tri-Center.
The Wheelers aren’t completely depleted by graduation, but the losses of Riley Jones, Colby Rattenborg, Lucas Smith-Peterson, Matt Fett, and Dylan Jensen won’t be easy to replace. Jones was a workhorse back last year averaging over 20 carries per game. The power rusher ended up with 25 of Audubon’s 31 rushing TD’s. Smith-Peterson and Rattenborg combined for 53 of Audubon’s 83 pass receptions on the season. Include 2013 grad Chase Petersen in that group and only one player with double digit receptions from last year is back (Drew Christiansen 12 catches for 176 yards).
Audubon also loses defensive standouts Dylan Jensen and Matt Fett. They were two of the key cogs in Audubon’s string of four shutouts in five games at the end of last season. Jensen’s 123 tackles led the squad. Fett was 2nd on the team with 89 stops, including 16 for loss. Each had four sacks.
The good news is dual-threat quarterback Trevor Smith returns for his third year as the signal caller. Smith has been consistent with is numbers the last two years, throwing for over 1,000 and rushing for over 400 each of the last couple of seasons. Jake Mulford should see more work in the backfield this season. As a backup to Jones last year, Mulford totaled 571 yards on 101 carries and 5 TD’s.
Mulford also had 4 interceptions on the defensive side of the ball last year. Matthew Smith-Peterson is the leading returning tackler for coach Dustin Christensen’s ‘D’. He racked up 82 tackles in 2013. Smith-Peterson will also likely play a much bigger role offensively this season.
Audubon’s season opener is against AHSTW. Of the Wheeler's three losses in 2013, two of them were to the Vikings. That game will air on KSOM2.
Additionally, Wheeler football will air on 96.5 KSOM in Weeks 3 and 6 when they host Griswold and Riverside respectively.
Click for the interview with co-coach Dustin Christensen