Like all football teams, the Cascade Cougars began their fall drills wary of the scourge known as COVID-19. Would the virus allow for a full season? The violent collisions and close contact the sport is known for caused many to suspect competition may be curtailed at some point. But in the end, the season was completed with the Cougars registering a 6-3 record before being eliminated in the second round of the Class 1A playoffs.
Coach Tim Frake naturally reflected on those players who recently completed their careers, “First of all, I would like to thank our seniors. We had nine seniors that dedicated a lot of time, sweat and enthusiasm into our football program. Our success this season and throughout their careers could not have been possible without their leadership and commitments and they will truly be missed.”
Three of those stalwart seniors led the Cougar defense in total tackles. Team leader Casey Koppes finished No. 12 in the state with 69 total stops and proved to be a menacing force to the opposition. Close behind him were Ted Weber (50.5) and Isaac DeLaRosa (47.5). Weber led the team in sacks with 7.5. Tanner Simon led the team with four interceptions, two of them returned for touchdowns.
The Cougar senior class made a nice impact on the defensive side of the ball all year long. Cael McDermott recorded 25.5 tackles, 21 of them being solo. Carson Staner had 17.5 (13 solo), Cody Kremer 17, Kaleb Topping 16.5, Gabe Lange 5.5 and Brennan Booth contributed five.
Offensively, the team was led by super sophomore running back Jack Menster. He finished number three in the state in rushing yardage (1673) and number seven in all-purpose yards (2020). He tallied 24 touchdowns, 23 on the ground.
Junior quarterback Justin Roling took over the reins behind center this season recording some fine stats in his own right. He passed for 13 touchdowns and 1121 yards. His favorite targets were junior Simon (357 yards), sophomore Luke Ruggeberg (311 yards) and senior McDermott (161).
In the kicking department, senior punter Jackson McAleer averaged a healthy 35.5 yards per punt average while kicking chores were handled by junior Isaac Nava who connected on 25 of 34 point-after attempts.
Frake continued his reflections, “Like most seasons, there are always highs and lows. For me just being able to play with all that is happening with Covid was a blessing. Being able to create memories playing the game that we love no matter the results was never a guarantee from week to week. Winning a district title and being able to play two home games in the playoffs with a final record of 6-3 were great accomplishments. Unfortunately, we lost three close ball games with the last one ending our season before we were ready.”
Two highlights were surely the emotional 42-41 overtime victory over Durant as well as the convincing wins over Northeast Goose Lake 42-8 and Wilton 36-4.
In summing things up, Frake said, “The keys to this year’s team success was usually our offense. Defensively and special teams, we struggled at times. To be successful in most games and to go deeper into the playoffs we needed to be more consistent in all three phases of the game.”
Let us all hope for a return to normalcy and renewed health when football returns in the fall of 2021.