It was a successful year getting back to the postseason for the Manawa Wolves football team. One year removed from the CWC-10, Manawa placed second in the CWC-8 with a 5-1 conference record.
Their experience in the small division of the CWC was short lived and the Wolves find themselves once again with familiar opponents, which will add to the challenge for this year’s team.
“That’s a tough conference that we’re coming back up into,” said Manawa head coach Brad Johnson. “We know them all too well to be honest and we played a few of them last year and actually went 0-2 against them. It’s kind of upsetting going into it, but just coming into work every day. That’s all we can do. We have to believe in the process. If you believe in the process, good things will come out in the end.”
This year’s Manawa team will be very young and early on it’s unknown who will replace a couple of key contributors, such as first-team all-conference players like Zach Kreklow, Levi Stueber and Ben Beyer. Kreklow even earned offensive player of the year honors.
With the departure of so many veterans, Johnson says there will be plenty of opportunity for the younger players.
“You need thousands of thousands of reps to get where you need to be,” he said. “A lot of those young guys, their journey is just beginning. They might get sick of it at times and they’re not perfect at it. I think letting them know they’re getting better every day and they’re striving for perfection and they’ll reach excellence along the way.”
“We kind of have a young team, but we definitely have a good team,” said senior running back Garrett Bristol. [The underclassmen] are all ready to come out and prove that they’re worth the spot that they’re trying to get.”
While the goal for the season is always the same, coach Johnson knows he can’t have his team judge themselves by their win-loss record, given their inexperience, but there are other ways they can find success.
“Win-loss, we did a little too much of that in the past,” Johnson said of how they’ve judged success on the field. “It’s not always that exact outcome. It’s what you can see from each kid as they grow and the team as you grow. I really expect playoffs. We have to be in the playoffs. That’s the way it is. If you get in the playoffs anything can happen, so that’s what we’re pushing for.”
Manawa opens up their season at non-conference Suring.