Dwight football

Members of the Dwight football team take to the field before a game against Central last season.

Fall 2021 Outlook

Head Coach: Luke Standiford (4th season)

Career Record: 11-13

Conference: Vermilion Valley

Last Playoff: Class 3A First Round, 2018

Best Playoff: Class 3A Second Round, 1983

2020-2021 Spring Record: 2-3

Fall 2021 Schedule

8/27 7 p.m. Salt Fork

9/3 7 p.m. Bismarck-Henning

9/11 1 p.m. @Westville

9/17 7 p.m. Oakwood

9/24 7 p.m. @Momence

10/1 7 p.m. @Central

10/8 7 p.m. Watseka

10/16 7 p.m. @Iroquois West

10/22 7 p.m. Seneca

Much like how Dwight is looking for a fresh start in its new conference, playing in the Vermilion Valley Conference, the Trojans will also be looking at a complete overhaul to their roster as they look to enter the 2021 fall football season with just two returning starters on each side of the ball.

Dwight has lost nine starters on both offense and defense and none of them will be more crucial to replace than its offensive line, which consisted of a veteran front that totaled four seniors, including left tackle Abe Rieke. With so much turnover in the trenches, look for the Trojans to adjust from their long-standing tradition of a run-heavy offense.

“I don’t think it’s who we plan on leaning on, but the style of football we are going to have to play,” said Trojans head coach Luke Standiford. “Before it was just ground and pound and maybe throw the ball five-to-six times a game. We’re going to have to spread the defense out a bit and get the ball out in space by either running the option or throwing the football and so it’s a different game plan than in years past.”

Another key part in Standiford’s decision to open up the offense more this upcoming season is due to the progression he’s seen out of his new starting quarterback, senior Kaleb Duden. So far this offseason Duden has quickly gained the trust of the coaching staff through his ability to soak up information like a sponge.

“As far as learning the offense, Duden is doing a great job so far,” Standiford said. “He’s kind of a natural back under center and he throws a nice ball. He’s smart and picks things up quickly.”

Duden will have some new playmakers at the skill positions to help ease his transition as well. Seniors Dillon Sarff and Emmett Emmons will look to be his new playmakers on the outside while senior tight end Jeremy Kapper will look to be a big addition in both the run and pass game, as both a blocker and pass catcher.

“I just have to help these guys get ready to go because we have a lot of young guys who need to step up,” Kapper said.

Dwight will also rely heavily on Austin Burkhardt who is set to be the team’s starting fullback and middle linebacker. Burkhardt will look to lead a young defense alongside Sarff who will return to the defense as a defensive back, a spot where he was named SVC All-Conference last season.

“Defensively we have some skill players so our plan is to play some more man-to-man and load the box because we don’t have a lot of depth on the defensive line,” Standiford said. “...We’re going to run that odd front and rely on our secondary and linebacker to be the strong point of our defense.”

Despite missing so many key components from last year’s squad that finished just 2-3 after beginning the season 2-0, this new group of Trojans seem ready for the challenges ahead, especially since they will have a chance to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2018.

“I think the biggest difference from last season is that this group is that individuals want to try a lot more harder this season with the playoffs being back in play,” Kapper said. “Last year, injuries hit us and we kind of fell apart after that.”

{p dir=”ltr”}Quick Hits: Austin Butkhardt, FB/LB

{p dir=”ltr”}Favorite drink: Water

{p dir=”ltr”}Favorite movie character: Dominic Toretto, Fast and Furious

{p dir=”ltr”}Favorite football player: Dick Butkus

{p dir=”ltr”}Favorite video game: Modern Warfare 2 (Call of Duty)

Superpower wish: Invisibility

Cody is a sports journalist who's been with the Daily Journal since 2020. He's been a sports reporter since his days at the University of Iowa where he graduated in 2019.