The 2012 season was a memorable one for the Thoroughbreds of Newport Central Catholic. After a sluggish 2-4 start, the Breds won 9 straight, enroute to the Class 2A state championship with a win over Caldwell County 30-26.
Heading into the 2013 season, Newcath will be looking for their third State Championship in 4 years. They will have to do so, however, without former head coach Eddie Eviston, who accepted a position to coach at Georgetown College. This years’ team will be led by long time Newcath assistant Dan Wagner, who will look to lead his team back to the state championship.
"Things aren’t a whole lot different", said Coach Wagner. "We’re going to keep rolling with what we’ve been doing. The kids know what to expect and what we expect from them (as a coaching staff). With Coach Eviston gone, we’ll move Dave Schneider back to offensive coordinator."
One of the biggest strengths of last years’ team was the balance of Dylan Hayes running the ball and Josh Cain at the quarterback position. Hayes rushed for over 1700 yards, while Cain threw for over 2400 yards. Both were lost to graduation, which for most programs would be a lot to replace, but Coach Wagner fully expects the Breds to continue to pick up right where they left off.
"We’ll give the ball to a number of different people," Coach Wagner explained. "Sophomore Running back Jacob Smith has looked really good and is great in the open field. We’ll also give it to Jack Sutkamp, as well as Kalvin Moore. We will run a lot of the same sets as last year with some tweaks here and there."
Sutkamp is already receiving Division 1 interest but it is Jacob Smith that will likely be the featured back as he came on strong last season after being brought up to the varsity level towards the end of his freshman season., finishing with 267 yards on just 47 carries.
"I think with the help of my teammates and coaches, I’ve mentally gotten tougher preparing for hopefully another winning season,” said Smith. "What I’m looking forward to most is helping my teammates achieve another championship and bring the (state championship) trophy back to the hill."
One of the teammates that should help make things easier on Smith and the running game is Senior Mac Franzen. Franzen had 1,143 yards last season as a receiver, but will slide over to the Quarterback position this year and try to use his playmaking ability from under center.
"Mac Franzen will play quarterback for us this year. We generally don’t like to play our quarterback both ways (at safety), so we’ll have to see how that goes and if somebody decides to steps up."
Defensively the Breds lose several key defensive linemen that went both ways last season, as well as defensive backs but with leading tackler Jack Sutkamp back on that side of the ball, as well as senior Linebacker Kalvin Moore and senior Defensive End Tyler Lyon, the Breds have some leadership to get the new guys accustomed to what Coach Wagner expects and wants to do.
"I’ve been running the defense for a long time, so we’ll continue to do what we’ve been doing," said Coach Wagner.
As far as the schedule goes, Newcath has never been one to back down from any opponent and this year is no different as they will take on Ashland, Simon Kenton, Dixie Heights, and Cooper, all big schools, before heading into district play and then closing out the year with the annual rivalry game against Beechwood.
That tough schedule is what Coach Wagner feels has helped Newcath over the years once the post season rolls around.
"We play all big schools but that definetly prepares us. Once we get to the postseason we tell our guys we aren’t going to see anyone better than what we’ve already seen. The biggest problem is getting through those 5 weeks (against the bigger schools) with our 40-45 guys and coming out healthy."
As far as expectations, they haven’t changed despite a new head coach.
"As always, expectations are 2A district champions, get in the post season and roll it as far as we can. We know nothing is given to us so we will have to work hard to get there."
If this year is anything like last year, the Breds will once again be taking hardware back on the hill with a state title trophy. The journey begins August 23rd at home against Ashalnd.
Players to Watch:
Mac Franzen (Senior QB) - The new signal caller moves over from wideout to quarterback where he will look to put up similar numbers through the air, passing, as he did last season receiving. With a summer to prepare and the work ethic that he is, expect much of the same from the senior leader.
Jack Sutkamp (Senior FB/LB) - Sutkamp is a physical kid that will be a tough match up on both sides of the ball at 6’1 210 lbs. Coach Wagner believes that Sutkamp has the ability to play at the small D1 level and with a solid senior campaign, could really raise his stock.
Kalvin Moore (Senior RB/LB) - Moore rushed for 73 yards last season on 7 carries to go along with a fumble recovery, interception, and 88 tackles on defense.
Jacob Smith (Soph RB) - Jake was tough to bring down last year when he burst on the scene as an unknown freshman. With a summer in the weight room and an added year of maturity, expect the powerful running back to pick up right where he left off.
Tommy Donnelly (Senior WR) - This is the player that is a bit of an unknown, due to injury last year, but he has looked really good for the Breds so far through work outs and could be a big contributor with Franzen sliding over to QB.