Hanover went 12-1 last season and took second in the 8M-I state championship, losing 42-30 to Central Plains. The Wildcats lost all eight starters on offense and only returned two starters on defense.
It was unknown coming into the season who would replace several of the key players from last year, including Andrew Bruna at quarterback, who totaled over 2,700 yards in 2014. It is no longer an unknown as first year starting quarterback Will Bruna, a 6-foot-1 170-pound junior and younger brother of Andrew Bruna, has turned the heads of everyone across Kansas this season. Bruna has passed for 1,760 yards and 31 touchdowns in his first seven starts at the quarterback position in high school.
“We have a lot of guys that are fast and the ability to catch. I expected us to be pretty good but not to pass as much as we have. This season has went great so far.” Bruna said.
Pretty good is an understatement. In a 13 game season, Bruna is on pace for 3,269 yards passing this year. That would shatter the 8-man all-time single season state record of 2,837 yards back in 2000 by Michael Hammersmith of White City. Bruna is also on pace to throw 57 touchdowns this season, single season record is 52 set by Bo Savage of Central-Burden in 2010. Bruna has also completed 74 percent of his passes and has rushed for another 11 touchdowns on the ground.
"He's played really well. He's gaining confidence and is showcasing his skills and the talent of his teammates." Andrew Bruna, older brother and last years Hanover quarterback, said.
The favorite target for Bruna this season has been senior Trey Lohse who has caught 29 passes for 585 yards and 12 scores. Dylan Juenman (275 yards), Matthew White (420 yards) and Adam Zarybnicky (480 yards) have all combined to catch the other 19 touchdown passes from Bruna. The most impressive thing is Bruna has only thrown three interceptions to his 31 touchdowns in 143 passing attempts this season.
Hanover, led by head coach Matt Heuer, who is 85-23 in 11 years, has won its first seven games this season by a total score of 392-to-102. Why is it that the Wildcats are always a contender in all sports? They took second in football last season, won the 1A-I state basketball championship and also won 1A boys state track and field.
“Our coaches put a lot of emphasis on the weight room, as well as extra practices and tournaments. They encourage us to work in the off-season, which has had good results in recent years.” Bruna said.
As always, the Wildcats are primed for another deep run in 8M-I, but know it won’t be easy in the very loaded 8M-I classification.
“There are a lot of good teams in 8-man this year. Spearville, Central Plains, Solomon, and Burlingame have been the other ranked teams the past few weeks. There are numerous other teams with good records or key players. They could make a run deep into the season as well.” Bruna said.
Hanover will take on Clifton-Clyde this week. We caught up with Will Bruna below…
Special Thanks to Bruna Implement for supporting high school athletics in the state with Sports in Kansas.
Q&A w/ Will Bruna
How did I get involved in athletics?
I grew up watching my older siblings and relatives playing sports. I have nine siblings, and I'm the second youngest, so there was always someone to be cheering for. When I became old enough, going out for sports didn't even seem like a decision. I immediately knew I wanted to play.
Did I expect to have the season I am having at Quarterback?
No, not exactly. I expected our team to be successful, but I didn't anticipate passing quite as much as we have.
What makes us such a hard team to defend?
We have a lot of guys that are fast and still have the ability to catch. That is a pretty good combination in 8-man.
Who are some of our key players?
Every person on our team is a key player. Football is a team game. One has to worry about doing their job in order for a play to be successful. While lineman or others players may not have tremendous statistics, they are crucial for every play.
Hanover is loaded with athletes in recent time, where does all that success come from?
Our coaches put a lot of emphasis on the weight room, as well as extra practices and tournaments. They encourage us to work in the off-season, which has had good results in recent years.
What are our goals this season?
I believe our goals are the same as any other team, to win the state championship.
Teams to look out for in 8-man this year?
There are a lot of good teams in 8-man this year. Spearville, Central Plains, Solomon, and Burlingame have been the other ranked teams the past few weeks. There are numerous other teams with good records or key players. They could make a run deep into the season as well.
What will it take to make a run back to the state title game?
We have to continue getting better each practice and game. We realize we can't afford to play poorly at this time in the season.
Do I play any other sports?
Yes, I have played basketball every year, as well as track one year.
What is the weight room like at Hanover?
It is pretty small. Regardless, there are always students lifting when it's open.
It takes good coaching to win, how important are our coaches at Hanover?
Extremely important. They are the ones who open the weight room, teach the fundamentals, and enforce the hard work every season. Without good coaches, winning wouldn't be possible.
Favorite subject in school?
Either Woods or Weights
What is it like to grow up in Hanover for someone who has never been here?
Everyone knows each other, so it is common courtesy to help out or show support to members of the community. Nearly everyone here is very passionate about sports. Having a lot of support and interest makes participating in sports much more exciting.
One thing the average person wouldn't know about you?
I really enjoy music and practicing the piano or guitar.