GARNER – Garner-Hayfield-Ventura football coach Scott Van Dusseldorp has a lot to talk about when it comes to this year’s Cardinals, but one simple axiom says a lot.
“Winning and losing are both contagious,” Van Dusseldorp said, and if true, it could be a harbinger of a special season in the making at GHV.
The Cardinal football team has been a model of consistency over the past several seasons, and after a 6-3 season in 2016 followed by state tournament appearances in basketball and soccer, an electricity surrounds GHV this season.
One reason for the excitement is a wealth of returning talent that fits well in Van Dusseldorp’s schemes.
GHV figures to be stout on the defensive side of the ball as a linebacking corps returns that Van Dusseldorp calls the best unit he has had in his seven years at the helm.
The defensive scheme for GHV relies heavily on active linebacker play, and Nick Joynt, Connor Burke, Dane Whipple and Anthony Sherwood provide a wealth of experience from a team that was solid defensively a year ago.
Van Dusseldorp’s son Jack, who had much of his junior year derailed by injury, is healthy and will be an imposing presence in the defensive line at 6-foot-4 and 325 pounds as the defensive line is shaping to be an excellent complement to the linebackers.
The offense, which has traditionally been a power-running game out of a three-back set, will be also be in good shape with Joynt and Burke carrying the bulk of the load.
“Nick is a heck of an athlete,” Van Dusseldorp said. “He goes hard every play. You’re not going to outwork him.”
With Joynt assuming the role of the feature back in Van Dusseldorp’s run-oriented offense, the Cardinals will likely look to be more diverse with the return of strong-armed quarterback Ryan Meyers.
“We have a quarterback with more experience,” Van Dusseldorp said. “He is seeing the field much better.”
The kicking game, again a traditional strength of Cardinal squads, also figures to be in good shape with Burke and Whipple, two mainstays on the GHV soccer team, handling the kicking and punting chores.
Unlike many teams, the Cardinals do not anticipate fighting the numbers game as much as some schools with a roster of nearly 60 players.
The difficult part for GHV is a district that is loaded with traditional powers.
After nondistrict contest against West Hancock and Algona, the Cardinals open district play against Clear Lake with key contests against Crestwood and New Hampton looming in October.
If the Cardinals can remain healthy, especially in the offensive and defensive lines, another sport with a deep post-season run is a strong possibility.