FREEPORT, Ill. (WTVO/WQRF) — As the Aquin Bulldogs head in to the 2021 season, they’ll be without Will Gustafson, their former standout quarterback, All-State defensive back, kick returner, the NUIC’s reigning MVP, and possibly the conference’s greatest player of all time.
“His biggest legacy is just hard work,” said head coach Broc Kundert. “Obviously he wasn’t the biggest guy at all, but he busted his butt every day and made everybody around him better.”
But somehow, that’s arguably not the biggest storyline ahead of this year, as the Bulldogs made the switch to 8-man in the off-season.
“We kind of thought it would be a whole new playbook, whole new defense, but it’s not,” said Kundert. “You play the same Cover One, Cover Three, Cover Two. Our offensive playbook hasn’t changed in terminology at all. So that’s been a very smooth transition for the guys too which we were happy about.”
Making that transition certainly wasn’t for lack of success. In the NUIC, they went a combined 17-1 over the last two seasons.
“You know, we’re hoping to keep it going,” said Kundert. “This senior group is strong and they’ve been working real hard. They’ve got big shoes to fill, but we think they’ve got some pretty big feet so I think they’ll be okay too.“
There’s no one way to replace all that Gustafson did, but there are other players ready to rise to the occasion. One player looking to make the jump on offense is new Quarterback, senior Evan Broge.
“I think it’ll be fun to try something new and I think it should be pretty easy to get used to because we’re still running a similar offense with the reads, so it’s kind of the same as last year,“ Broge said.
And on defense, senior linebacker Cade Ludeking is ready to take charge.
“I’m just looking to assist the team in getting tackles in the run game and in the passing game it’s going to be a little bit rough this year just because there’s so much more room to get a pass in, but that’s about it,” said Ludeking. “Just tackle people.”
Despite all the new challenges this team faces, they’re ready to confront them head on.
“Just some different things will be nice. Get a chance to play some different teams, and we’re coaches so we’re always up for a challenge. So something different will be fun.”