Akron-Westfield optimistic on first day of practice - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

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Akron-Westfield optimistic on first day of practice

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Akron-Westfield went through their first day of practice on Monday. Akron-Westfield went through their first day of practice on Monday.
AKRON, Iowa (KTIV) -

Monday is the first day for high school football practice in Iowa and Nebraska.

Akron-Westfield went 11-3 in 2015 but followed it up with just a 5-5 season last year. The Westerners don't believe their window is shut just yet.

On the first day of football practice in Iowa, Akron-Westfield is focusing on one thing.

"It's intensity," said head coach Eric Walkingstick. "It's doing everything as hard as you can, and having fun doing it."

But the Westerners haven't forgot about an early playoff loss that brought last season to a screeching halt.

"Last year, we were somewhat one-dimensional because of our youth in certain positions," said Walkingstick.

The offensive line is a year older but there's still the issue of replacing quarterback Cal Eskra, who was the top passer in Class A with almost 1,800 yards and 22 touchdowns. The Westerners' newest gunslinger is senior A.J. Nemesio.

"For sure not easy shoes to fill," said Nemesio. "I'm just trying to do whatever I can to make sure this team succeeds. And just make sure we get the wins and have a lot of fun doing it."

"He's had a lot of ball games, and seen him, seen him develop," said Walkingstick. "It's amazing, every year, we'll have some kid that didn't even start for us or play for us the year before, and turns out to be somebody that all of a sudden people know his name and talking about him on the daily."

"Just a lot of 7-on-7 work we've been doing in the off-season, up in the weight room, running through plays," added Nemesio. "Just making sure we get a lot off reps with the people we need to."

The time for that stuff is now in practice but Akron-Westfield says, once the games come they'll be ready to turn some heads.

"Most of it for us now is just understanding what we've got to do," said junior John Henrich. "We've got new people coming in, so we've got to understand our reads, our flows, and then on offense, we've got to figure out where we fit. Are we passing, are we running, or are we a mix of both?"

"They're going to be guys you've not heard of, maybe guys that don't fit the typical bill, as far as side, speed," said Walkingstick. "But my dogs will hunt. These guys will get it done, I promise you."

Akron-Westfield hosts Hinton on August 25 in their season opener.

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