KEARNEY — A four-game losing streak in the middle of the season ruined Kearney Catholic’s chances at qualifying for the football playoffs last season.
With eight starters back on offense, including junior quarterback Heinrich Haarberg, the Stars hope to have a different outcome this season.
Coach Rashawn Harvey says the Stars should be “talented at the skill positions, but we will need to develop offensive and defensive linemen. How we perform in the trenches will impact the outcome of our season.”
The Stars will have to replace Eli Richter and Sam Clinch on the offensive and defensive lines. Both are playing college football this season, as Richter is a walk-on at Nebraska while Clinch is at the University of Nebraska at Kearney.
Seniors Jaxson Daake and Ben Homan are returning starters on the offensive and defensive lines, while sophomore Dylan Merz is back on the offensive unit.
Juniors Seth Moore, John Wiltgen and Kale Murphy and sophomores Hunter Shiers and Koren Conrad will provide depth across the two lines, Harvey said.
“Jaxson (Daake) might be our smallest offensive and defensive line player, but he is small and mighty,” Harvey said. “He played with relentless effort and tenacity (last season).”
Haarberg, who’s a 6-foot-5, 180-pound dual-threat quarterback, will play a critical role for the Stars this season. Haarberg has the intangibles to thrive as the starter and gained experience last season when he threw for 733 years, six touchdowns and two interceptions. He also rushed for 186 yards and four touchdowns on 41 carries.
“(He is a) tremendous athlete who has the potential to be an all-state player,” Harvey said. “Heinrich is fast and explosive. His improved position skills and understanding of the game will directly impact his junior season.”
Haarberg will have plenty of weapons around him, including junior receivers Samson David and Logan Miner.
Last year, Miner led the Stars with 22 receptions for 422 yards and four touchdowns. David was the No. 2 option and tallied 15 catches for 211 yards and three TDs.
Harvey believes Miner and David, who also play defensive back, could be all-state caliber players this season.
“Logan’s combination of speed, agility and explosiveness makes him dangerous on the field,” Harvey said. “Look for Logan to have a tremendous year.”
The Stars open the season against Broken Bow at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 30 at Kearney Catholic High School.