For the second straight year, the Monona Grove Silver Eagles soared through the Badger South en route to a conference title last season. 2019 begins with a bang, as Monona Grove will travel to Waunakee in the opening week of the season.
It's the same match-up that ended the 2018 season for Monona Grove, as the two Badger Conference champions clashed at Waunakee, with the Warriors getting the win.
Coach Brandon Beckwith says it's fun to face the challenge of seeing teams like Waunakee.
"To be real, they took it to us pretty good," said Beckwith. "[This year] We're a young and inexperienced team. We respect Waunakee, but we don't want to be wide-eyed and nervous."
The outgoing senior class had a lot of talent, and Beckwith notes that this year's senior group is talented, but small.
"We only have 14 seniors, some with no experience," Beckwith said. "We have 11 guys on defense who are new. We have a blank slate to work with."
There's talent back, of course. A pair of first-team all-Badger South linemen pave the way up front with Nathan Wilcox and Garrett Hanson back. Running behind them is another first-team all-conference selection, Brady Killerlain, who came on strong in the latter portion of the season. The Silver Eagles also have a few pieces that were on varsity last year on the lines moving up. Quarterback will be all-new, and all but one receiver slot will see new faces as well, with only Kam Reuter, an all-conference pick, back.
Defensively, as Beckwith noted, no starters return. Killerlain, who was an honorable mention selection on defense last year, may contribute but in a limited or reserve role. That means for top reserves last year such as defensive linemen Presley Mackesey, defensive backs Tucker Merrill and Trey Loken, and linebackers Sam Wood and Will Corbett, there's a bigger spot to fill on this year's defense.
On special teams, the Silver Eagles do return a couple of kicking prospects, and Monona Grove will also have players back that fielded returns in 2018.
"We're hoping we can go out and compete," said Beckwith. "The Badger South is competitive, with many great coaches."
"We're going to be underdogs at times this year," added Beckwith.
Here's our preview with coach Brandon Beckwith:
Monona Grove Silver Eagles
Head Coach: Brandon Beckwith (5th Season), 42-7 Overall (9-4 Playoffs)
2018 Result: 11-1 (7-0), 🏆1st in the Badger South (Lost in Level 3 of the Division 2 playoffs to Waunakee, 33-7)
Three-Year Record: 33-5 (8-3 Playoffs)
2017 All-Conference Honors: 12 First-Team, 3 Second-Team, 5 Honorable Mention (20 total)
Three-Year All-Conference Totals: 33 First-Team, 12 Second-Team, 19 Honorable Mention (64 total)
Returning All-Conference Players (4): C Garrett Hanson (1T-OL) (WSN-OL 🏈), Sr.; G Nathan Wilcox (1T-OL & HM-OL 2017), Sr.; RB/S Brady Killerlain (1T-RB & HM-LB) (WSN-RB 🏈), Sr.; WR Kam Reuter (HM-DB), Sr.
Other Players To Watch: T Devin Bilder, Sr.; WR/QB/K Carter Tomczak, Sr.; DT Makana Komoku, Sr; DB/WR Tucker Merrill, Sr.; DB/WR Trey Loken, Sr.; TE/DE Presley Mackesey, Sr.; LB/FB Sam Wood, Sr.; G Kristian Schlict, Jr.; C Jacob Sale, Jr.; QB Camron Behnke, Jr.; WR Dylan Matuszak, Jr.; WR Owen Croak, Jr.; LB/WR Will Corbett, Jr.; DB/RB Mitch Hunter, Jr.; QB Casey Marron, So.; K Oliver Huston, So.
BIG Games: at Waunakee, August 23 (🔊The Big 1070 Broadcast); at Watertown, September 20; at Edgewood, September 27 (🔊The Big 1070 Broadcast); vs Fort Atkinson, October 11 (Homecoming); at Stoughton, October 18