Watertown Goslings - Badger South
Coach: Benji Kamrath (9th Season), 40-40 Overall (3-6 Playoffs in 6 Appearances; 2016)
2016 Result: 6-5 (5-2), 3rd in the Little Ten (Lost to Waukesha West 49-14 in Level 2 of D2 Playoffs)
Three-Year Record: 16-15 (1-3 Playoffs)
2016 All-Conference Honors: 5 First-Team, 3 Second-Team, 3 Honorable Mention (11 total)
Three-Year All-Conference Totals: 10 First-Team, 11 Second-Team, 11 Honorable Mention (32 total)
Returning All-Conference Players (2): QB Dylan Fagerland (First Team-QB) (WSN Class of 2018 Top 15 - QB) (WFCA All-State Honorable Mention-QB), Sr.; WR Ryan Hayden (First Team-WR) (WSN Class of 2018 Top 15- WR) (WFCA All-State Honorable Mention-WR), Sr.
*DL Stephen Maule (First Team-DL) (WSN Class of 2018 Players to Watch-DL), Sr. is not playing football this year
Other Players To Watch: RB/DB Clayton Goodman, Sr.; LB Devon Peirick, Sr.; OL/DL Cameron Triplett, Sr.; TE/LB Zach Huebner, Sr.; WR/DB Brian Katzenberger, Jr.
BIG Games: at Beaver Dam August 18, vs Waunakee August 25, vs Monroe September 8, vs Stoughton September 29 (Homecoming), at Monona Grove October 13
Even some of the more casual high school football fans have taken notice of Watertown's high-flying passing attack.
Watertown Head Coach Benji Kamrath, in his 14th year at Watertown and ninth as the head coach, is excited to showcase his team's offense now that the Goslings are part of the Badger South.
"I believe the Badger South is a very good football conference. I am excited about the number of big-game match-ups we have this year. We are proud of the fact that we have been able to qualify for the playoffs the last six years in a row." - Watertown Head Coach Benji Kamrath
"We are definitely excited to be joining the Badger South," said Kamrath, who served as a Watertown assistant for five seasons prior to taking over as the head coach.
Before the Goslings can get to work testing opposing secondaries, they will need to figure out how to replace a large group of 2016 graduates.
"We graduated 22 seniors last season, and many of them had a huge role in the success we have had over the last couple seasons," said Kamrath. "I am hopeful that our younger players have learned from the work ethic and competitiveness of graduating class and the winning tradition will continue."
Not only that, but after week one, when they face Beaver Dam, they will see opponents each week that they haven't typically seen playing in the now-disbanded Little Ten.
"I think that this season will be like a playoff game each week for us because we are unfamiliar with what teams do schematically," said Coach Kamrath. "However, I also think teams will have a difficult time preparing for us and what we do."
On the field, one of the most highly-touted passer-receiver duos in the state make up the entire list of returning all-conference players for the Goslings. Quarterback Dylan Fagerland and wide receiver Ryan Hayden both are in the top ten of all players at their respective positions according to WisSports.net's Class of 2018 rankings.
"I expect them both to have outstanding senior seasons," said Coach Kamrath, who noted that the pair rank as one of the best in the state.
Running back is a position of opportunity for the Goslings this year, and Coach Kamrath says senior Clayton Goodman will be one of the players getting time in the backfield. No returning Watertown back had more than ten yards last season.
Outside of Hayden, the receiving group will also see plenty of new faces. Brian Katzenberger, who played quarterback on JV last year as a sophomore, will move to receiver in 2017. The only other returning player with a catch last year is Lucas Bridges, a senior, who had only one grab.
In the trenches, the senior class has four linemen listed as returning for 2017, but it will be another area for opportunity within the program.
"I think the keys to our offensive success will be how well our younger receivers step up as well as our ability to run the ball effectively," said Kamrath.
Defensively, the team loses standout defensive lineman Stephen Maule for his senior season, so along the lines, senior Cameron Triplett will be one of a number of players earning larger roles in 2017.
in the back half, the Goslings bring back their second- and third-leading tacklers from a season ago in seniors Devon Peirick at linebacker and Clayton Goodman at safety. Senior linebacker Zach Huebner also returns, and Ryan Hayden may contribute some at defensive back.
At least for one week, it won't seem like Watertown left the Little Ten. The Goslings will play former conference rival Beaver Dam in the opener on the road. Last year, Watertown doubled up the Golden Beavers, 42-21.
Watertown's true initiation into the Badger Conference comes in Week 2, when they will host defending Badger North champion Waunakee, expected to be one of the top teams in the state this year.
Badger South play begins with two home games, first against 2016 playoff-qualifying Fort Atkinson and then against defending Badger South champion Monroe. In Week 5, Watertown hits the road to play Edgewood at Middleton, before heading to Milton the very next week.
The Goslings' final regular season home game is Homecoming against Stoughton on September 29. Watertown finishes the regular season with October dates at Oregon and at Monona Grove. The Monona Grove game is another high-profile match-up, featuring two of the best quarterbacks and two of the best receivers in the state of Wisconsin.
Watertown is getting a warm welcome into the Badger Conference, and Coach Kamrath reciprocated the feeling about playing in the new league as well.
"I believe the Badger South is a very good football conference," said Kamrath. "I am excited about the number of big-game match-ups we have this year."
Expected to be in the mix for a conference title, Coach Kamrath said that the goals for his team don't change because of the move.
"We are proud of the fact that we have been able to qualify for the playoffs the last six years in a row," said Kamrath. "Our goals going into every season are to contend for a conference championship, qualify for the playoffs, and to try to make a deep run in the playoffs."
--Jimmie Kaska @jimmekaska
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