Walston-Hoover Stadium will feature brand new field turf, a new video board that’s one of the largest in Division III and a team wearing sharp new Nike uniforms in 2013.
That team seems to have a new attitude as well after Wartburg went 6-4 last season, tied for their worst season this century.
“I don’t want Wartburg College to just be known for having great things,” senior defensive back Jared Wauters said at the team’s media day Tuesday. “I want us to be known for building a dynasty and winning games we’re supposed to win here. That’s how I kind of view this whole renovation. It’s nice but we better back it up or it doesn’t mean anything to us.”
Walston-Hoover Stadium underwent an extensive renovation over the summer that featured new surfaces for the 12-year old FieldTurf and track and will include a new Daktronics video board at the team’s home opener against Carthage Sept. 21, all part of the $3.4 million Outdoor Athletic Facilities Project.
“The whole summer we’d walk by or drive by and just itching and excited to get on it,” Wauters said. “The first time we got to run out there it was like Christmas morning.”
“The guys always want to practice on the turf,” head coach Rick Willis said. “To get 12 years out of the turf and the track was great but there’s a noticeable difference in just the newness aspect and the technology part of things than what’s out there now. I think it just gives everybody a little bit of a bounce in there step.”
Perhaps that extra bounce will help the Knights reach the Division III playoffs for the first time since 2010.
It’s only been a span of two seasons, but the players feel it’s longer at a program that’s won 12 conference championships including six from 1999-2010.
“We think we have a responsibility as a unit and as a team to get back on the right track,” Wauters said. “I think what we’ve been talking about is a sense of urgency and needing to get back where we need to be, where Wartburg is supposed to be.”
Wartburg was in a five-way tie for second in the conference last year, looking up at undefeated Coe and the Knights were picked to finish second behind the Kohawks again this year.
Eleven starters — four offense and five defense — return to a squad that’s hungry to get back on top.
“Whenever we don’t win a conference championship here at Wartburg, that’s kind of a downfall for us because that’s a goal every single year and when you don’t meet your goals, it just gives you that much more of a drive to meet it the next year,” senior linebacker Ryan Billings said.
Willis re-inforced that mantra as a program full of new, shiny stuff tries to re-kindle its old, championship-winning ways.
“There’s no doubt about it that our goal every year is to win the conference championship,” Willis said. “If we don’t do that, we’re disappointed. Our guys understand that we’ve been two years without that. I think they’ve worked hard and they are hungry.”
Media Day Notes
–Logan Schrader, who stepped in for the injured Taylor Jacobsmeier as a redshirt freshman last season, enters 2013 as the starting quarterback. Jacobsmeier and last year’s backup J.J. Hanus will compete for playing time.
–Hanus will likely see time at running back and Jacobsmeier could play running back or wide receiver, depending on Schrader’s performance.
–Starting defensive lineman Casey Krull was converted to the team’s starting center Monday. The offensive line returns just two players and is the biggest question mark on the team.
–Michael Bohlke has solidified himself as the starting kicker.
–Returning starters: QB Logan Schrader, RB Brandon Domeyer, OT Chris Brinkmeier, OT Jordan Spires, DL Martin Hyatte, DL Ben Bentil, LB Ryan Billings, CB Spencer Capitani, S Jared Wauters, P Grant Zimmerman
–Top newcomers: TE Jacob Holsteen (Ellsworth), DL Chase Kleopfer (Iowa Western), LB Zach Twedt (Iowa Central), WR Sawyer Anderson (New Hampton High School)
–Captains: QB Taylor Jacobsmeier, WR Brandon Steggall, OT Jordan Spires, DL Martin Hyatte, LB Ryan Billings, S Jared Wauters
Check The Circuit in the coming week for extensive Wartburg football position outlooks.