If the destination for the 2013 edition of the Union Knights’ football team is a sixth consecutive trip to the postseason, the journey should be an interesting one. While Union returns one of the top football players in the state, quarterback Jay Scheel, the loss of seven First Team, All-District performers to graduation leaves a lot of holes for the team to fill. And while the Knights are not lacking for talent, many of the players who will take the field on Friday at Center-Point have limited game experience playing varsity football.

Coming off a 9-2 season in the team’s return to Class 2A, following a Class 3A state championship run in 2011, the Knights begin the season with more depth at the offensive and defensive lines than in previous years. The key to success, Head Coach Joe Hadachek noted, is to determine who will play where. Gone from last season’s 2A District 3 championship squad are All-District first teamers Josh Clark, Justin Clark, Tanner Heckt and Chase Hansen. The hopes for continued excellence in Union line play this season will be led by seniors Jacob Clark, Bo Bader, Cody Rutledge, Nathan Harting, Nick Weich and Vince Neil. Juniors Alex Barz and Dakota Hopper are key newcomers who will also compete for playing time.

On offense, the Knights will be led by #2, Jay Scheel, one of the premiere quarterbacks in the state, who combined for over 2,700 yards throwing and running the ball last season. Scheel, who last year made a verbal commitment to play football collegiately at the University of Iowa, is a threat to score each time he touches the ball. While opposing defenses will most certainly focus their attention on the Union quarterback, it remains to be seen who will step up and try to fill the void left in a number of skill positions with the graduation of Trev Hadachek (WR/SS), Andrew Osuna (HB), Will Crees (TE/LB), Brian Dunkelberger (TE/DE), Mitchell Dierks (WR/FS) and Brady Petersen (WR/K). Union will need production from seniors Cole Reiter (RB/FS), Kolten Bader (WR/DT), John Ringelstetter (TE/LB), Drake Rousselow (WR/FS), Alex Bear (TE/LB) and juniors Justin Carey (WR/FS), Jacob Holschlag (HB/LB), Tate Hadachek (WR/CB), Dylan Bear (TE/LB) and Brady Driscol (QB/CB), if the team hopes to repeat as Class 2A District 3 champions.

The road to a district championship will be a challenging one, indeed, as the Knights open the season on the road at Center Point to face the Stormin’ Pointers, a team that handed them an opening game loss a year ago, 45-42. Union’s first home game will be played on September 6 against perennial Class 1A powerhouse, Aplington-Parkersburg. The Knights also expect stiff competition to come from the team that ended their season in 2012- the Waukon Indians, ranked #1 in some preseason polls.