Reviewing the Cougars’ football season

By: 
Mikaela Koski
Thursday, November 15, 2018

With fall sports seasons wrapping up across the state, Columbus Cougar Head Coach Blake Hoge took the chance to reflect on his team’s season as a whole.

The Cougars finished 4-4 during the 2018 season, missing out on a post-season berth by one win. This is an improvement upon the 2017 season, when Columbus went 2-6.

This season, the Cougars put up 2,741 total yards – 1,137 passing yards and 1,604 rushing yards. This means Columbus averaged 142 passing yards per game and 200 rushing yards per game.

On third down, the Cougars made the conversion almost 39 percent of the time, and opponents had a 35 percent third down conversion rate. Columbus converted 32 percent of fourth downs, while opponents only converted 5 first downs against the Cougars (23 percent conversion rate).

Touchdowns came predominately on the ground, with Columbus scoring 20 rushing touchdowns and only 5 passing touchdowns.

Hoge notes that a couple of the Cougars’ games hinged on a few plays that didn’t go in Columbus’ favor, but that is how the game works – “like we tell the guys, all you can do is give it your all and let the wins and losses sort themselves out.”

Overall, Hoge is proud of his team’s performance, explaining, “I like how hard we played and the heart we showed on a week to week basis. We improved, we adjusted, and we got better every single week. I’m proud of our guys and the season we were able to put together.”

SEASON LEADERS

Senior Carson West controlled the Cougars’ passing game, completing 81 of 155 pass attempts (52.26 percent) for 1,137 yards and five touchdowns (TDs) on the season. This breaks down to an average of 142 yards per game and about 7 yards per attempt.

The Columbus run game was dominated by senior Colton Getz, who took 98 carries for 560 yards during the season’s eight games. Getz scored six TDs and averaged 70 yards per game and 5.7 yards per carry.

Also making an impact on the ground were West with 328 yards (4 TDs), senior Nate Palmer with 242 yards (4 TDs), freshman Trey Johannes with 241 yards (3 TDs), and senior Dylan Raihl with 229 yards (3 TDs).

Raihl was the team’s lead receiver, catching 51 balls for 738 yards this season, including five TDs. That means Raihl averaged about 92 yards per game and about 14.5 yards per reception.

Two other Cougar receivers had significant numbers this season – junior Trey Stampfel had 161 yards, and Getz had 125 yards.

The Columbus defense was led by junior defensive end Tommy Campbell. Throughout eight games, Campbell racked up 68 tackles (17 solo and 51 assists), including six sacks and 11 tackles for loss. He also recorded two fumble recoveries and forced one fumble.

A host of Cougars played important roles on the defensive side of the ball, including: Raihl (58 tackles, 2 interceptions, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery), junior Ricky Preece (50 tackles, 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries), Getz (43 tackles), junior Izaak Huncovsky (40 tackles), and West (40 tackles, 5 interceptions, 1 defensive touchdown).

As for special teams, West was the top punter for Columbus, averaging almost 29 yards per punt. Johannes led kickoff returners with 303 yards on 12 returns for an average of 25.25 yards per return and almost 38 yards per game. Raihl had 153 yards returning kickoffs (19 yards per return) and 99 yards returning punts (14 yards per return).

LOOKING TO NEXT YEAR

Hoge describes this year’s seniors as “a special group” that has come to feel like family to him throughout the last four years.

While the coach is sad to see them go, he is “proud of what they were able to accomplish throughout their high school careers and they’ve done a good job showing our underclassmen what it takes to be successful.”

As for next year, Hoge notes that many of the skill players will have graduated, so some younger players will need to assume leading roles. Most of the Cougar linemen are returning, and that brings the benefit of some stability and experience to support the younger players that will need to step up.

“Just like every year, the success we’ll have next season is dependent on how much work we put into the off-season. Winning doesn’t just happen by itself, but takes a concerted effort,” Hoge explains.

“We have some talent returning and coming up and I’m hopefully optimistic for next year’s team.”

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