It was a relatively successful debut for Watertown in the Badger South, earning a playoff bid and racking up video game numbers in the pass game as they were in the old Little Ten. The Goslings will have big shoes to fill at quarterback and receiver, but there's depth in the program.
"We were one of the youngest teams in the state probably last year," said head coach Benji Kamrath. "But, we return eight starters on each side of the ball."
Gone are Dylan Fagerland and Ryan Hayden at quarterback and receiver respectively, but in the Goslings' system, there are plenty of players waiting in the wings to take over. 6'4" Ethan Pauly threw 18 passes as a sophomore, completing 12, and will be the favorite to take over behind center. Running back Clayton Goodman is gone, but the next four rushers on the depth chart are back. And, at receiver, Hayden graduates, but Daniel Denault and Kory Stas combined for 102 receptions, 1,264 yards, and 13 touchdowns last year. Other returning receivers aggregated 40 receptions and one touchdown in 2017.
"We played mostly sophomores and even a freshman at receiver last year," noted coach Kamrath.
Most of the offensive line should be intact as well, providing some coverage for a team turning over its top quarterback and receiver in a pass-heavy offense.
"Last year, we played one of the most difficult schedules in the state," said Kamrath. "With us being so young, that was valuable experience."
While the defense graduated plenty of contributors, one of Watertown's leading tacklers, Devon Peirick, is back. Several other regulars, especially up front, will return as well. Paul Kujawski is back as the team's kicker for the upcoming year, and the Goslings have options at returner.
Watertown opens the season with a home game against longtime rival Beaver Dam, and then plays three straight road games. The first one is against defending Division 2 state champion Waunakee, before playing their Badger South opener at Fort Atkinson before finishing up the road swing against Monroe on September 7.
The Goslings will play four of their final five games at home, starting with Edgewood in Week 5. Milton is next to travel to Watertown, before the lone road game in the middle of the second half of the season schedule against Stoughton. Homecoming is October 5 against Oregon before finishing the regular season against defending Badger South champion Monona Grove.
Here is The Big 1070's interview with Watertown head coach Benji Kamrath:
Watertown Goslings - Badger South
Head Coach: Benji Kamrath (10th Season), 44-46 Overall (3-7 Playoffs)
2017 Result: 4-6 (3-4), 4th in the Badger South (Lost in Level 1 of the Division 2 playoffs to Menasha, 49-21)
Three-Year Record: 15-16 (1-3 Playoffs)
2017 All-Conference Honors: 2 First-Team, 2 Second-Team, 7 Honorable Mention (11 total)
Three-Year All-Conference Totals: 9 First-Team, 11 Second-Team, 13 Honorable Mention (33 total)
Returning All-Conference Players (5): K/LB/QB Paul Kujawski (HM-K), Sr.; OL/DL Alex Nachtigall (HM-OL), Sr.; OL/DL Matt Brewster (HM-OL), Sr.; OL/DL Tyler Bartz (HM-OL), Sr.; TE/LB Daniel Denault (2nd Team-WR), Jr.
Other Players To Watch: LB/RB Devon Peirick, Sr.; RB/LB Jack Sherman, Sr.; WR/DB Brian Katzenberger, Sr.; LB/TE Isaac Bohlman, Sr.; DB/WR Jarek Lytle, Sr.; WR/DB Luke Gifford, Sr.; OL/LB Tanner Nachtigall, Sr.; OL/LB Tanner Quinn, Sr.; QB/LB Ethan Pauly, Jr.; RB/DB Jonathan Nolasco, Jr.; RB/DB Nathan Doherty, Jr.; WR/DB Kory Stas, Jr.; WR/DB Cade Oiler, Jr.; OL/DL Klayton Kopet, Jr.; WR/LB Evan Pauly, So.
BIG Games: vs Beaver Dam, August 17; at Waunakee, August 24; vs Oregon, October 5 (Homecoming)