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Jack Menster catches a pass over the middle.

Cascade’s football team finished with a record 4-5 after losing to Iowa City Regina in the first round of the playoffs. The 2021 Cougars could not match the playoff run of the 2020 team but were competitive and possessed an offensive attack that was hard for opponents to handle.

“Coming into the season we knew we had a tough district and tough schedule, but if we stayed healthy and developed depth, we could compete with anybody we were to face,” said head coach Tim Frake.

From the start of the season, a 42-27 loss to Monticello, the big play defense Frake was hoping to develop in order to complement what was expected to be a big-play offense never quite gelled into the turnover-producing unit the Cougars wanted.

The Cougar offense, led by junior running back Jack Menster and an experienced offensive line, performed as advertised, racking up yards and points by the bunches in all but one contest. Cascade exploded for 66 points in a win against Sumner-Fredericksburg and 45 in a shootout victory over Anamosa.

Cascade’s season ended in a 41-19 first-round playoff loss to then-undefeated Iowa City Regina.

“To our players’ credit, we battled to the last whistle (against Regina). We made some plays but not enough against a quality opponent. We talked about being consistent all year long and to beat the really good teams we needed to eliminate our mistakes and capitalize on theirs. We had chances early to get off the field defensively on a few drives when we had them in third or fourth and long but didn’t get the stop we needed. And offensively we missed on some opportunities to convert when we were in the red zone or had the chances to make big plays,” Frake said.

The Cougars’ record does not reflect how the team improved over the course of the season as it cut down on penalties and became more physical on defense.

Frake said, “We didn’t have the season we were hoping for but with a 4-5 record, all five losses are to opponents who are playing in the second round of playoffs.”

Frake also was sorry to see this senior class depart.

“This group of seniors dedicated a lot of time and energy into this football program and for that I am thankful. Football is a sport that requires the most of each player and I look forward to watching these young men take what they have accomplished for further success in the rest of their lives,” he said. ”The wins are always fun and the losses are always heartbreaking, but the lessons learned and the memories made can never be replaced.”

Menster led Cascade in rushing with 1,041 yards on 124 carries. Tanner Simon had 394 yards on 55 carries, Justin Roling 139 on 43, Cass Hoffman 129 yards on 16, Mason Otting 68 on 10 in a season shortened by injury and Will Hosch had 87 on six.

Senior quarterback Roling threw for 945 yards with nine touchdowns and six interceptions. Roling completed 44% of his passes and maintained a 99.6 passer rating. Hosch completed one pass in a backup role for six yards.

Luke Ruggeberg was the leading receiver with 21 grabs for 319 yards and five touchdowns. Senior Isaac Nava had eight for 189 and two touchdowns, Simon 12 for 124 and one touchdown, Menster seven for 118 and one touchdown, Otting nine for 93 yards, Keagan Lamey four for 69 and Hoffman three catches for 39.

Ruggeberg had 41 tackles (29 solo) to lead the defense. He was followed by Cade Rausch 37 (23, 1 sack), Brennan Booth 34.5 (24), Simon 29 (22), Hoffman 27.5 (20), Cole McDermott 25.5 (12, 3.5 sacks), Evan Foust 20 (eight), Ty Frasher 19.5 (12), Otting 19 (14), Nava 17.5 (13), Lamey 15.5 (10), Menster 14 (12, 1 sack), Kodey Miles 12 (5), Angel Moncada 12 (three, one sack), Mitchell Bergfeld eight (3), Will Hosch 5.5 (four solo), Trevor Finzel four (two solo), Kaden Callahan 3.5 (one solo) Juan Alvarado three tackles (three solo), Trever Freiburger three (two solo), Ty Kelchen two. Justin Roling 1.5 (one solo), Brody Beecher one tackle, Cody Reed one tackle, and Nathan Schockemoehl 0.5 tackles.

Cade Rausch had two fumble recoveries and Simon, Hoffman, Menster, Ruggeberg, Finzel, Nava, and Frasher had one.

Hoffman led the team with two interceptions, Otting, Menster, Foust, and Miles one.

Simon returned 14 kicks for 283 yards, Otting 7-for- 161 yards, Menster 2-for-107, including a touchdown. Hoffman and Hosch had 31 return yards, Nava 29 return yards, Frasher 28 and Alvarado eight.

In the kicking game, Tyson Hill converted 14-of-26 extra-point kicks and Nava was 1-of-2. Hosch averaged 40.8 yards per punt, Roling punted twice for 43 yards.