Pella High varsity football coach Jay McKinstrey is starting his 23rd season in charge of the Little Dutch program.
The coach has built himself quite a resume over the years.
In 2014, 2015 and 2016 the Dutch won the Class 3A State Football Title. In 2017 the Dutch were in the championship game again, only to fall to Cedar Rapids, Xavier in the finals 31-13 in the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls.
Pella is coming off a year where they posted a record of 8-2 overall. In the playoffs the Dutch lost to the Xavier Saints 14-6 in Cedar Rapids in the first round of the playoffs. Xavier went on to win the 3A state title.
Back from the 8-2 Pella squad of 2018 are 24 lettermen. The list includes six players who were starters last fall.
Returning startsrs include lineman Mason Huerter and Braydon Peterson on both sides of the ball. Both linemen are seniors who check in at 240 pounds.
At the skill positions the Dutch return Logan Shetterly at wide receiver/defensive back.
Shetterly, also a senior, hauled in 44 passes for 684 yards and eight touchdowns. Defensively he picked off two passes and scored a touchdown.
Junior Aaron Downs returns as a quarterback/wide receiver/defensive back.
With the departutre of staring quarterback Ryan Gustafson to graduation, look for Downs to get some action in the backfield.
Primarily as a receiver in 2018 he hauled in 36 passes for 504 yards and had seven touchdowns. He also ran for 421 yards and had 10 touchdowns total. Downs will also play defensive back.
Josh Warner, a junior, will be a leader int he defensive backfield. He had 19 tackles and an interception last year.
Kam Lamber is another linebacker back in the fold. He had 23 stops last fall.
A total of 42 players will be on the varsity roster this year.
McKinstrey listed the strengths of the 2019 squad as being team speed and tradition.
As for the weaknesses to open the year, depth at certain positions and the lack of varsity experieince for many players.
When asked to analyze the district, McKinstrey replied, “I look for Oskaloosa to be strong again. I think we can be compeitive in each game as long as we can stay healthy.”
Oskaloosa returns as the district champions from a year ago after the Indians beat the Dutch 36-35.
The Pella coach listed a few of the key players lost to graduation from the 2018 squad, Ryan Gustafson, Nick DeJong, Gabe Thomas, Sam Wrner, Brendan Davidson, Bobby Sheil, Ben Akers, Tyler Vander Molen and Nate Kissinger.
In summary I want our team to play with great heart, passion, and enthusiasm. I want them to compete each and every play and game. I want them to learn to play football play after play after play. I want them to learn how trust, love, commitment, belief, and faith can be incorporated into their lives each and every day.”
The TLCBF – has been the team motto for several years now and it has paid big dividends for those players, who have bought in to the message.
Odds and Ends
Pella will face four very talented teams in non-district play as they take on Dallas Center-Grimes, Mount Pleasant, Norwalk and Carlisle.
The season opens with a home game against DC-Grimes Aug. 30.
District 7 teams along with the Dutch include Newton, Oskaloosa, Knoxville, South Tama and Grinnell.