Collins-Maxwell made slight gains during season without a home. Spartans played all road games

The Collins-Maxwell football team had to endure a challenging 2022 season thanks to going without a home game and injuries.

Construction at Collins-Maxwell high school that includes the addition of a new football field forced the Spartans to play every game on the road this season. Making things even more difficult, they were hit with the injury bug multiple times, which made it difficult to play at their peak level down the stretch.

But despite of the obstacles they faced, the Spartans still managed to take a small step forward this fall. They finished 3-5 overall and 2-3 in 8-player District 4 after going 3-6 in 2021.

"We had a tough challenge from the start knowing we were going to be on the road every game," Collins-Maxwell head coach Greg Davis said. "There were obviously a lot of questions and concerns our players had to start the season when we still didn’t know where we were going to be playing some of our scheduled 'home' games.  I’m incredibly proud of the way they handled it, kept coming to practice everyday looking to get better and focused on only controlling the things they could control. "

Collins-Maxwell opened the season strong before injuries and the tougher part of its schedule started to take a toll.

The Spartans defeated Woodward Academy, 69-28, and cruised to a 56-6 victory over GMG in their first two games. They suffered an 86-12 loss to perennial power Don Bosco in Week 3, but rebounded with a 68-22 victory over Dunkerton.

The last half of the season wasn't as kind. the Spartans dropped their final four games, losing to Colo-NESCO (58-44), Baxter (63-16), Gladbrook-Reinbeck (68-14) and Grand View Christian (75-64).

"We struggled at times staying healthy, so we had to be pretty creative at times as a coaching staff of how to make sure we had the players we felt could best get the job done and getting them into positions to make plays," Greenfield said. "We didn’t end up with the win-loss record that we would have hoped for.  There are a couple games that we wish we could have another shot at, but it doesn't work that way.  Ultimately, we weren’t able to make the plays necessary in the critical moments to pull them out.  It is an area we will need to build off of for next year and hopefully fuels the fire to continuously improve throughout the offseason."

Collins-Maxwell averaged 42.9 points and 262.6 yards per game. The Spartans gave up 50.8 points and 397.1 yards per game.

The Huntrods triplets ― Luke, Jace and Blake ― turned in outstanding senior seasons for Collins-Maxwell.

Luke caught 31 passes for 515 yards and nine touchdowns. He also made 34.5 tackles and 2.5 sacks.

"Luke Huntrods was solid for us on both sides of the ball," Davis said. "It wasn’t necessarily a surprise to our staff — we knew he had the potential to be a standout player for us.  It was nice to see him put together the kind of season we knew he could."

Jace completed 51 of 82 passes for 938 yards and 13 touchdowns with only three interceptions before injuries hampered his quarterback duties late in the year and he ran for 91 yards and five touchdowns and caught eight passes for 62 yards. Defensively, Jace finished with 26 tackles.

"Jace Huntrods was putting together a solid season at quarterback until he had to change positions offensively due to a hand injury," Davis said. "He was able to play receiver for us the rest of the way and was very reliable in the defensive backfield for us as well."

Blake made 36 tackles with one sack and fumble recovery apiece at linebacker. He also was an excellent blocker on offense.

"Blake Huntrods ended up taking at least one snap at nearly every position on the field on both sides of the ball," Davis said. "The only position that I can think of he didn’t play was defensive back.  We knew he was a versatile player because of his skill set and his knowledge of the game and he really helped us out multiple times in multiple different positions.  It is so much easier filling out a depth chart when you have a player like that on the roster."

Freshman Cooper Wierson and sophomore Josef Dvorak were the top underclassmen for Collins-Maxwell.

Wierson spent time at running back and also filled in for Jace at quarterback late in the year, finishing with 247 yards and seven touchdowns rushing and 18 catches for 312 yards and three scores and also completing 33 of 73 passes for 387 yards and five touchdowns with four interceptions. Wierson had one kickoff and one punt return for a touchdown apiece on special teams and he made 19 tackles, intercepted three passes with one returned for a touchdown and came up with sack on defense.

"Cooper Wierson was able to step in and trade places with Jace on offense and played very well at times for us as freshmen.," Davis said. "At times he looked like the young inexperienced player that he is, but he also had a lot of moments that showed us the potential he has for the next three seasons."

Dvorak stepped in for his injured older brother Caleb, who missed the season with an injury, at linebacker and had 71 tackles, 7.5 stops behind the line and one interception and fumble recovery apiece. He was the Spartans' leading rusher on offense with 329 yards and 11 touchdowns on 5.1 yards per carry and also contributed 12 catches for 202 yards and two scores.

"Josef Dvorak stepped into the running back position early into the season," Davis said. "We didn’t expect to play him there when camp started back in August.  We initially had a couple other players in mind for that starting job.  However, after being forced to move some pieces around, he quickly stepped up and made it known to our staff he can do the job extremely well.  We look forward to what he can do there his last two years of his high school career."

Luke (44) and Blake (51) Huntrods were key contributors for the Collins-Maxwell football team in 2022.
Luke (44) and Blake (51) Huntrods were key contributors for the Collins-Maxwell football team in 2022.

Freshman Austin Boege had 27.5 tackles, one fumble recovery, a kickoff return for a touchdown and 89 yards and one touchdown rushing. Dane Beattie caught 13 passes for 201 yards and four touchdowns and tallied 23.5 tackles and one fumble recovery, Lane Oswalt finished with 15.5 tackles, one interception and a kickoff return for a score, William Booth had 20.5 tackles and 2.5 sacks and Dillon Howerton 18 tackles, seven tackles for loss and a fumble recovery.

David Fisher made 11 tackles, 1.5 sacks and three fumble recoveries, Reed Oswalt recorded 15.5 tackles and Nate Smith made 13 stops for Collins-Maxwell.

Luke Huntrods averaged 43 yards on 20 punts and Beattie made 3 of 5 extra points for Collins-Maxwell on special teams.

The Spartans will miss the Huntrods brothers and the rest of the senior class next season. But the return of Wierson, Dvorak and other key contributors will give them a chance at a winning record in 2023.

"We had a good number of seniors on the roster this year that were a big part of our starting lineup, so we will have some holes to fill on both sides of the ball," Davis said. "We do have some young guys in mind who we feel can grow into those spots throughout the offseason.  We are excited about some of the young talent coming up through the ranks for next year and are looking forward to finding different ways to get them involved for us.  I know that I catch myself thinking about what our district could look like next year when the new classifications and districts are announced in the spring. Until then, we will just have to wait and see."

This article originally appeared on Ames Tribune: Spartan football team overcame adversity to make slight gains in 2022