Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

Seeing red: First-year Kimball head football coach expects success

Kuxhausen takes over for departed Pederson, eyes fourth straight playoff appearance

In his first year at the helm

of things for the Kimball

Longhorns football team,

Nick Kuxhausen is learning

as he goes, while relying on

the experience he gained last

year as an assistant coach at


“For the most part, we’re

going to keep things really

similar,” said Kuxhausen.

“Coach Pedersen had a lot of

success with what he’d been


Coming off the school’s

third straight playoff appearance,

Kuxhausen and the

Longhorns have their sights

set on making in four in a row,

which is no easy task.

Their schedule opens with a

true challenge this Friday, as

the Longhorns travel to North

Platte to take on North Platte

St. Pat’s - a team that had

the Longhorns’ number last


“We’re going to have a true

test right off the bat,” said

Kuxhausen. “They’re just a

traditional power. We’re going

to go up there, play them and

see what happens.”

Last season, Kimball posted

a 3-0 record in the conference,

which had them tied for first.

This complimented a 2-1 mark

in the district, which was good

enough for second.

A 4-4 regular season was

enough to punch a ticket to the

state playoffs, but any hopes

at an extended run came to an

abrupt end against Blue Hill in

the first round.

The team lost several assets

from last year’s team in the

form of graduating seniors,

but return a plethora of talent

to help guide this team

through the ups and downs

that come with all high school

football seasons.

Senior lineman Jake Reader,

who comes in at 6’3” and 225

pounds tallied 25 solo and 46

assisted tackles last season,

had five fumble recoveries

and nine sacks. Kuxhausen

called Reader an “All-State

caliber player.”

Jon Withrow, a junior, also

returns for the Longhorns, and

will carry a larger load this

season for Kimball.

The 5’9”, 145 pound running

back scored eight touchdowns

last season, averaging

roughly four yards per carry

during the campaign.

He also proved his worth as

a kick returner for Kimball,

averaging 28 yards per kickoff

return, en route to two touchdowns.

“We should be an athletic

team, and we’ll need to use

our athleticism to compensate

for our lack of size,” said


Other players of note include

AJ Spicer, a junior who racked

up 37 tackles a year ago, and

is just now entering his junior

season, and Colton Stull, who

amassed 47 tackles in 2012,

while playing as a quarterback,

defensive back and a

running back.

Enrique Cajero will look to

make his mark as the team’s

kicker in 2013. The junior

drew praise from Kuxhausen

in a recent interview.

“Enrique is a very talented

kicker, and we look for him to

do good things for us this season,”

said the first-year head


Senior Dakota Jefferson

returns this season for the

Longhorns after missing

last season with an injury.

Jefferson is expected to see

time as a linebacker and on

the offensive line this season

for Kimball.

“Our team brings a lot of

experience from last year,”

said Kuxhausen. “We will

have some key spots to fill

from last year’s senior class.

Our biggest challenge will be

finding depth on the offensive

and defensive lines.”

Kimball plays four games at

home this year, and four games

on the road. Home games will

be played on September 13,

September 27, October 4 and

October 25 at Kimball High


“I just hope we get better

week in and week out, and

we just improve as the season

goes along,” said Kuxhausen.

“With the group of guys we

have and the work they’ve put

in, I think we will. I think if

we can improve each week,

it’s going to benefit us as the

season goes along.

Kimball begins the 2013

season with back-to-back

road games before hosting

Cambridge on Friday,

September 13 at 6:00 p.m. at

Kimball High School.