CEDAR BLUFFS – Year two of the rebuild at Cedar Bluffs High School under head coach Thomas Brinkman will begin on Aug. 28.
Brinkman inherited a struggling program last season, and despite managing just one win in eight games in 2019, Brinkman is confident that his team is making the necessary strides to become better.
“I think we grew a lot as a team last season. It’s easy to get caught up in the record, but that doesn’t always tell the whole story,” said Brinkman.
Brinkman could see the improvement in the attention to detail and just the improvement in the overall culture surrounding the football program.
The Wildcats have had just three winning seasons since 2003, last qualified for the playoffs in 2014 and the teams last playoff win came in 2008.
The Wildcats lone win last season was a 62-19 road victory over Omaha Christian Academy on Oct. 18.
The Wildcats allowed nearly 63 points a game last season including three games where their opponent scored more than 70 points.
Brinkman spent last season trying to simplify the defensive game plan and is confident that his team will be better on that side of the ball in 2020.
“We knew that we had to address the problems on the defensive side of the football last season and that is something that we are going to focus on again this season,” Brinkman added.
Improved success on the defensive side off the ball will center around the play of 220-pound senior linebacker Brody Ptomey.
Ptomey returns in 2020 after leading the Wildcats in tackles last season.
Also returning is 195-pound senior defensive lineman Gabe Anaya. Anaya’s strength and agility will allow him to spend some time in the opponents backfield in 2020.
The return of junior linebacker Zephan Kluthe from injury instantly improves the Wildcat defense. The 180-pound backer has good speed and instincts.
165-pound sophomore defensive back Isaac Baker also returns after starting in 2019.
The Wildcat offense averaged just over 24 points a game last year and Brinkman is hopeful to have even more production on that side of the ball.
One reason for optimism is the return of the entire offensive line, spearheaded by Ptomey, a returning all-state center.
“He commands our offensive line and calls out the blocking scheme and defensive fronts. His technique is at a high level and he is able to get to the second level to help spring some big runs for us,” Brinkman added.
Anaya also returns after garnering all-district honors a season ago.
Junior Hayden Giehler will also start up front. He has the size (200 pounds) and agility to provide Brinkman with a talented offensive lineman.
Kluthe will get the bulk of the carries in the run game, but who is going to play quarterback is still an unknown.
“It will be a competition. We will have to move someone from another position to play quarterback,” Brinkman added.
The Wildcats return to D-1 this season and the schedule is a favorable one.
Only two, the final two teams on the schedule, had winning seasons a year ago and the combined record of the eight teams in 2019 was
“We are excited for the opportunity to get back into D-1. The schedule is different, a lot of new teams that we haven’t seen. We are excited about the schedule and think that we can be competitive against the majority of the teams we play,” said Brinkman.
The Wildcats will open the season against Emerson-Hubbard on the road on Aug. 28.