By Nicholas Guinn and Dakota Wright
September 2, 2016; 11:06
The North Wildcats had their first football game this last Friday; however, it did not go as planned. They suffered a 42-20 loss to Dubuque Hempstead to start the regular season.
After making the playoffs for the first time in school history this past season, North is expected to show that last year was not a fluke. When North and Hempstead battled off last season, it ended in a very close 35-28 loss for the Wildcats. With knowing how close they were then, and how much better they have gotten, North came out Friday looking for the win. However with a rough game from the quarterback and shaky special teams, they were not able to top Dubuque.
Last season was quite an up and down roller coaster for the Wildcats as they made the playoffs for the first time in school history, going 1-8 to do so. They faced Bettendorf in the first game of playoffs, losing 42-13. However it was quite a big step for the Wildcats to play in a playoff game.
With a new coach, comes a new system. Guy Dierx, the head coach of the team for the past few years, resigned after the season and they brought in former Davenport West coach Brandon Krusey. This has brought them from the double wing, to spread offense. Being hired in April, Krusey did not have a full offseason to implement the system.
With a loss, comes a lot of stuff to learn. It starts with special teams. In 4 kick offs, they gave up 170 yards and 1 was returned for a touchdown. Hempstead blocked one of North’s punts, and North missed one of their three PAT’s. Special teams is definitely one of the points of emphasis for the Wildcats this week.
It was also a rough night for the quarterback, Rudy Juarez. He had 9 completions of 25 passes for 201 yards, a touchdown, and 4 interceptions. It was his first game on varsity and despite the turnovers, he showed some good qualities at the position. The Wildcats started the game by giving up 3 touchdowns in the first two quarters. At half, the score was 21-0, Hempstead on top. Coming into the second half, North was fired up and that was apparent in their play. After Juarez threw one of his interceptions, this one returned for 102 yards for a touchdown, the Wildcats offense finally started producing. Scoring 20 points in the last two quarters, and the defense holding the Mustangs to only one touchdown in the second half, it showed what North can do when they start rolling. Although they lost, there was a lot of positives and definitely stuff to learn from.
The football team from North has gone through problems like the lack of players and below average play for many years. With more players than varsity has had in years and exceptional talent at many positions, it looks like this year could change a lot for the program. Look for the Wildcats to turn some heads and finish the season better than ever before.