A return to the playoffs for Verona was the capstone on a fourth-place Big 8 finish, no doubt a motivating factor this offseason for the Wildcats, who graduated a large senior class from last year. Verona's 2018 team will feature plenty of new names and new faces as the Wildcats look to take a run at the Big 8 title.
Only a handful of starters return from last year's senior-dominated team, but the few incoming seniors (juniors last year) that got on the field gained plenty of experience. One position group that should be fine in the film room is linebacker, where first-team all-conference 'backer Dylan Bourne returns along with 2017 starter Ben Vandervest and likely 2018 starter Jake Coshun, who recorded stops in all but one game last year.
Verona's offensive line is a staple of their success, and they'll have a bit of experience as part-time starter at left tackle, Bryce Corning, is back, along with fellow tackle Jack Roehrig and guard Jeremy Grim. All three will elevate from the second line of last year's two-deep. In the backfield, Adam Bekx will take over as starting quarterback and one of the leaders of the incoming junior class. That group features 2017 starter, receiver Aubrey Dawkins, and a slew of players likely taking over larger or starting roles in the upcoming campaign.
Most of the Wildcats' outstanding secondary graduated after last year, and after special teams, might be the area where the most rebuilding takes place. Xavier Howard and Kyle Walton are returning players with some experience. Special teams has long been the steady domain of Aaron Young, but with his graduation, it opens up three spots in the kicking game. Verona will also have to replace all of their kick returners, long snapper, and holder.
After an opening number against Janesville Parker, Verona will get a big early-season test when they host Middleton in Week 2, our Madison Taxi Game of the Week on The Big 1070. Verona heads back to Janesville to play Craig and begins September with a road game against Madison West, before coming back to Verona to face last year's Big 8 champ, Sun Prairie, on September 14.
Madison Memorial treks to Verona in Week 6, before the Wildcats head to Madison La Follette on September 28 for another one of The Big 1070's Madison Taxi Game of the Week broadcasts. October gets started with a road game at Beloit Memorial, before finishing the year against Madison East in Week 9.
Verona Wildcats - Big Eight
Head Coach: Dave Richardson (19th Season), 143-57 Overall; 27th Career Season, 172-94 - WFCA Hall of Fame 2014
2017 Result: 6-3 (6-4), 4th in the Big 8 (Lost in Level 1 of the Division 1 Playoffs to Kettle Moraine, 28-19)
Three-Year Record: 21-10 (1-3 Playoffs)
2017 All-Conference Honors: 5 First-Team, 7 Second-Team, 5 Honorable Mention (17 total)
Three-Year All-Conference Totals: 19 First-Team, 18 Second-Team, 15 Honorable Mention (52 total)
Returning All-Conference Players (1): LB Dylan Bourne [🏈 WSN] (1st Team-LB), Sr
Other Players To Watch: LB Ben Vandervest, Sr.; T Bryce Corning, Sr.; G Jeremy Grim, Sr.; T Jack Roehrig, Sr.; RB Zach Poller, Sr.; LB Jake Coshun, Sr.; DL J.T. Crunk, Sr.; QB Adam Bekx, Jr.; WR Aubrey Dawkins, Jr.; RB Haakon Anderson, Jr.; FB Keegan Lindell, Jr.; DB Kyle Walton, Jr; LB Nick Grassman, Jr.; LB Ben Cramer, Jr.; DL Adam Vandervest, Jr.; CB Xavier Howard, Jr.
BIG Games: vs Middleton, August 24 (🔊Madison Taxi Game of the Week); vs Sun Prairie, September 14; at Madison La Follette, September 28 (🔊Madison Taxi Game of the Week)