Colo-NESCO football team just misses out on a winning 2021 season: Royals go 4-5
The Colo-NESCO football team went up against a tough schedule and just missed out on a winning season in 2021.
The Royals finished 4-5 overall and went 3-3 in 8-player District 4. They made clear strides over the previous three seasons when they finished 2-6, 3-7 and 1-9 respectively.
"This was one of our best seasons in the past few years," Colo-NESCO co-head coach Josh Nessa said. "We were one game away from making the playoffs and might have made it if we had played a game or two a bit closer. All of the teams we lost to made it to the playoffs and we played several of those teams closer than we would have in the past. We also broke many single-season and career records."
Colo-NESCO lost to powerful Baxter and Gladbrook-Reinbeck teams to open the season by respective scores of 48-20 and 62-13. The Royals thumped Meskwaki, 66-20, Sept. 10 for their first victory, then suffered a 62-23 loss to Don Bosco.
They came back to trounce Collins-Maxwell, 40-14, Sept. 17 then loss two straight at the hands of Dunkerton (50-14) and BGM (64-58). Colo-NESCO was out of the playoff picture after that, but the team rebounded to take down GMG (48-12) and Grand View Christian to close out the regular season.
"We had a really challenging schedule this year, although our guys fully embraced it," Royal co-head coach David Greenfield said. "Being in a district with Don Bosco and Gladbrook-Reinbeck is never an easy thing. There were a couple of really big wins against rivals in Collins-Maxwell and GMG. Finishing the year strong with a close game against BGM, followed by two solid wins was a good way to send the seniors out and have some momentum going into the offseason."
For the season Colo-NESCO averaged 38.9 points and 321.2 yards. The Royals gave up 39.8 points and 374.4 yards.
"We saw tremendous growth throughout the season, and were a completely different team by the end of the year," Greenfield said. "Several players learned how to be a leader and how to compete, which was key for us in some evenly matched games. Tackling and overall physicality also greatly improved throughout the year, and we were typically the more physical and aggressive team during the second half of the season."
Quarterback Kenny Cutler completed 38 of 93 passes for a school-record 737 yards and 13 touchdowns with just two interceptions. He also ran for 302 yards and five touchdowns and is the school's all-time leader in passing completions (73), yards (1,437) and touchdowns (27).
Andrew Grover ran for 951 yards and 13 touchdowns on 6.7 yards per carry. He caught two passes for 29 yards and a score, finishing the school's 8-player career leader in receiving yards (421).
Andrew Tschantz caught six passes for 100 yards and four touchdowns to become the career leader in touchdown receptions with 12. He also ran for 671 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Spencer Hansen caught 14 passes for a Colo-NESCO-record 268 yards and four touchdowns and added 58 yards and one score on the ground. Nolan Smith made eight catches for 181 yards and two touchdowns, Kaleb Gray ran for 67 yards and a touchdown and Gannon Short 40 yards and a score.
On defense Cutler had 69.5 tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery and Grover 58 tackles and a fumble recovery. Lucas Frohwein was a force on the line with 48 tackles and 9.5 sacks.
Tschantz had 41.5 tackles, two interceptions and a fumble recovery. Nolan Smith had 35 tackles, recovered two fumbles, Hansen (31 tackles) and Nathan Oler (30.5) both intercepted two passes and Gray picked up 27 tackles and an interception.
Ephram Muntz made 16 of 19 extra points, becoming the school's all-time leader in extra points with 61. Tschantz averaged 36.2 yards on 20 punts.
Next year Colo-NESCO has some rebuilding to do with the loss of Cutler, Grover, Tschantz, Muntz, Oler and other key contributors.
"Our seniors this year provided a lot of leadership, especially in the backfield," Nessa said. "Both of our running backs and our quarterback were seniors. They will really be missed. We will also miss our other seniors who played on the line (DJ McMillen) and tight end and defensive back (Ephram Muntz and Nathan Oler). We also had a newcomer this year who was a senior, Carson Bickelhaupt. All of our seniors will be missed."
Nessa will transition over to an assistant coach to spend more time with his family next year as Greenfield takes over the program. They are looking forward to see what they can do in 2022.
"Our 2022 team will have a lot of potential and talent, but we will also have to deal with some inexperience as we replace a lot of key players," Greenfield said. "The offseason will be key as players continue to develop as athletes."
"We will lean heavily on guys like Spencer Hansen and Kaleb Gray to step up as leaders," Greenfield said." Our offensive and defensive line should be a strength as we return Lucas Frohwein, Nolan Smith, Jamen Cochran and Trenton Beard. We also have a lot of younger guys with tremendous potential that will likely compete for time. Coach Nessa and Coach (John) Pelzer bring a lot of experience and knowledge to our staff, so we are fortunate to have them as we move into next season."