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CADOTT — Even with a new coach leading the way, the Cadott Hornets football team isn’t looking to take any steps back.

They are ready to take that next step forward, with their eyes set on a playoff berth.

“The Cloverbelt (Conference) is tough, but I think we are going to surprise some people. Our goal is playoffs,” Cadott first-year coach Jeff Goettl said.

In 2017, Cadott finished at 2-7 overall and tied for sixth in the Cloverbelt Conference at 2-6. The Hornets return nine letterwinners from last year, but Goettl believes they’ve made the necessary improvement over the offseason to continue to work their way up the standings.

“We had a really good offseason in the weight room this year and we had a lot of kids who actually grew a lot,” Goettl said. “They put a lot of time in, they played a lot last year, so I think we’re a few steps ahead of last year.”

One expected strength of the Hornets is the play of the line on both sides of the ball. It is something the Hornets need to be solid at as they are looking to find new impact players at the skill positions with their quarterback, top three ball carriers and top two receivers having graduated.

The line will be led by returning honorable mention all-conference performer from a season ago in CJ Spath.

Along with a strong defensive line, the Hornets will look for leadership at linebacker from Coy Bowe and Brady Spaeth.

Goettl wants to see his team be much more fundamentally sound when it comes to tackling this year. Too many times he said the team allowed extra yards by not completing tackles when put in the right spot to make plays.

“Watching game film from last year we were in the right spots, we were over pursuing and we weren’t finishing tackles,” Goettl said. “That’s kind of the priority the first couple weeks here (of practice) to try to get that fixed.”

To go along with a key role defensively Goettl said Spaeth will get his share of carries at running back where Goettl believes he can be one of the premier ball carriers in the Cloverbelt.

Goettl said Bowe had been a vocal leader for the team and along with his impact at linebacker he will need to step up at wide receiver on the other side of the ball. Among receivers returning this year, Bowe led the way with eight catches for 156 yards.

The start of the schedule does the Hornets no favors with a tough road matchup to start the season. Cadott opens this year against Eau Claire Regis, who finished third in the Cloverbelt in 2017 and advanced to the Division 6 playoff semifinals, on Saturday, Aug. 18.

The Hornets leave Cadott just once in the month of September as they play three straight home games. They host Neillsville/Granton on Sept. 7, Stanley-Boyd the following Friday and finally Fall Creek on Sept. 21.

The season concludes with a road game at Spencer/Columbus (Sept. 28), a home matchup with Colby (Oct. 5) and finally a nonconference battle with Boyceville to round out the regular season.

With a new coach overlooking the squad and a host of talented players from last season who were seniors, there are question marks for Cadott. But with solid play from both the offensive and defensive line and talented, but less experienced players stepping into bigger roles there is certainly hope for the Hornets to start working their way up the standings this year in the Cloverbelt.

“I’m excited about these kids and the work they put into this offseason and I’m excited about how hard the coaching staff (worked) in the offseason,” Goettl said.

Travis Nyhus can be reached by email at travis.nyhus@lee.net or on Twitter @travisnyhus.

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Chippewa Herald sports reporter

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