By CONOR NICHOLL for Sports in Kansas - contact: Cnicholl1@gmail.com
Ron Jueneman is a Hanover graduate and has run R.L. Jueneman Construction for more than 20 years. He has specialized in excavation, foundations, demolition and soil conservation. Jueneman’s three oldest children enjoyed highly successful careers at Hanover.
In ’13, Brandon recorded a team-best 58 tackles as a senior. Preston enjoyed standout years in ’13 and ’14, when he led the Wildcats in all-purpose yards each fall.
In ’16, Katelyn helped Hanover volleyball to a state runner-up finish and collected second team all-state in Class 1A, Division I. Currently, Brandon works for the family business. Preston is a consultant for 21st Century Equipment in Nebraska, and Katelyn attends Washburn for Radiologic Technology.
The youngest, Colin, served as a Hanover student manager for several years in elementary school. Colin has long looked up to his brothers. One day, he wanted to best his brothers’ marks.
Last fall, Jueneman battled through his second major injury and still enjoyed a remarkable breakout season for the storied Wildcats. An electrifying all-purpose player, Jueneman amassed 1,945 all-purpose yards, 89 tackles, 23 total touchdowns (22 offensive) and collected Sports in Kansas Non-Senior All-State honors as well as KPreps first team all-state receiver honors in Eight-Man, Division II.
Hanover returned just one starter last fall, though still posted a 10-2 mark and state semifinal appearance. Jueneman delivered the most all-purpose yards by a Hanover player since at least 2010.
Jueneman loves football, though played little in high school before Week 3 of last fall. In ’17, Jueneman was working in the shop and trying to build his own metal car bumper. Jueneman wasn’t wearing boots “like I should have.” The bumper fell and hit Jueneman’s left ankle.
“My shoe instantly filled up with blood,” he said.
Jueneman lacerated his nerve and artery. He missed his freshman season. Jueneman still cannot feel his left foot. He returned for his sophomore year as Hanover reached its fifth straight state championship and won its third consecutive state title. On a senior-laden squad, Jueneman finished with 21 carries for 235 yards and two scores, caught a pair of touchdown passes and returned a kickoff for a TD.
Last season, lineman Jonah Weber was the lone returning starter for coach Matt Heuer, currently 150-27 in 15 years at his alma mater. Heuer significantly credited the deep playoff runs to help the backups prepare for feature roles in upcoming years. Teams are guaranteed nine regular season games, though Hanover often plays the maximum 13.
In ‘19, Jueneman, quarterback Jacob Jueneman, all-purpose threat Emmitt Jueneman, running back Taegan Schwartz, and linebacker Jacob Klipp emerged as key players. Only Schwartz was a senior in ’19. Klipp led Hanover with 139 tackles and was KPreps first team all-state. Five starters return on both sides for ’20.
Offensive line options include senior Blake Hynek, who will likely be the team’s biggest player, and juniors Phillip Doebele and Keagan Dimler, Jueneman’s step brother.
“Where some kids only get those 36 games in high school, our kids are getting around 52 games in high school, so I think that really helps us in the developmental phase for the kids below them,” Heuer said. “And I think that we kind of saw that last year where our kids might not have had a lot of varsity experience, but they have been practicing year in and year out an extra amount of time against pretty good players. As they were coming in and being our scout team players, they were going up against a state-caliber football group, and I think that’s been an exceptional tool.”
At first, it was unclear whether Jueneman was going to be a factor in ’19.
“As a staff and as a team, thinking that there was a strong possibility that we wouldn’t have him for a substantial amount of time,” Heuer said.
Jueneman has fought osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) throughout his life. OCD develops in joints, most often in children and adolescents. A segment of bone begins to separate from its surrounding region, which causes pain and swelling. For Jueneman, the pain occurred in his right femur, right where it meets the knee cap. He had to stop triple jumping.
“It was just gradually getting worse and worse, so they finally got an MRI, and it showed that chunk of bone being weak,” he said.
Jueneman saw specialists in the preseason and eventually spoke with Dr. James McAtee in Manhattan, who serves as the team physician for Kansas State University athletics.
“In the preseason, he told me there’s a chance that if we don’t fix it now it could be worse case scenario and break off, and that’s kind of what happened,” he said. “But they hardly never see these types of things. It’s pretty rare what I have.”
Either Jueneman was going to play just football and have the surgery after the season – or miss all football and return in time for other sports. Jueneman elected for football.
“The family didn’t want me to do it, and I kind of just wanted to prove everybody wrong and say yeah, ‘I want to do this,’ and try to be the best I can,” he said.
Jueneman still missed early practice, didn’t participate in the preseason jamboree or the season-opening 58-14 victory versus Pike Valley.
“Coming into camp, he did not practice for the first week, I think,” Heuer said. “The first week, they were deciding whether or not he was going to have surgery then, or if they were going to wait and have surgery after the season. They got a couple different opinions. Honestly, we didn’t find out about this until pretty much the beginning of August.”
In Week 2, Jueneman delivered three carries for 17 yards, caught six passes for 145 yards and three scores in a 44-8 victory against Doniphan West. The following week, Hanover traveled to Mankato-Rock Hills in a marquee early season matchup.
Jueneman delivered a breakout performance with 248 all-purpose yards, three rushing scores and a pair of kickoff returns for touchdowns in a 66-16 victory. Hanover won its 41st straight game, which tied Almena-Northern Valley for the longest eight-man win streak in the 50-year KSHSAA era. Hanover eventually reached 43 before a 28-26 loss to Axtell in Week 5.
“He’s an exceptional athlete in space, he does great things for us in space, and he was able to kind of build off of that game and continue that momentum throughout the course of the season,” Heuer said.
Sometime during the season, a chunk of Jueneman’s femur bone fell off. Jueneman had to “push through it and keep going.” After games, Jueneman said he felt “pretty miserable” and required icing and heating.
He finished with 45 carries for 390 yards and six touchdowns. Jueneman caught 31 passes for 791 yards and 11 scores. Notably, he returned 20 kickoffs for 719 yards and five touchdowns. He easily led Kansas eight-man players in kickoff return yardage, according to MaxPreps statewide lists. Spearville’s Trace Tasset was second at 469.
“It’s a pretty big milestone to overcome and everything,” Jueneman said of his achievements. “Gone through quite a bit of surgeries, but being able to get past them, and work harder and do what I can. I really like running down, get in the open field and making somebody miss and keep going on.”
From 2014-19, Hanover is a collective 72-4 and has averaged 52.7 points per game. Hanover has produced several of eight-man’s best skill players, including Carter Bruna, Trey Lohse, Preston Jueneman, Thomas Atkins, Matthew White, Kevin Diederich – and now Colin Jueneman.
Among Hanover players the last six years, Colin’s 2019 season has the most special teams TDs, and is tied for third in total offensive touchdowns. From ’14-19, he is the only Hanover player to record at least four scores in all three phases in a single season.
In that span, 10 Wildcats have recorded at least 85 offensive touches in a single year, including 96 from Jueneman. Among that group, Jueneman’s 4.36 touches per touchdown ranks second, just ahead of his brother Preston. In ’14, Preston recorded 20 touchdowns, or a score every 4.85 touches.
“A lot of the things that we did last year were geared to get him 1-on-1 in space, probably more so than we had other years,” Heuer said. “And I felt like that’s the No. 1 thing that he really excels at is if you can get him into open field and get him with a little bit of room, he’s a pretty dynamic football player.”
In December, McAtee’s surgery on Jueneman included a bone graft and four pins in his shin. Jueneman played the first basketball game and then missed the rest of the season. Track and all spring sports were cancelled because of coronavirus.
In early June, Hanover, like most teams, started back with summer workouts after the nearly three-month hiatus. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound Jueneman, who can bench 255 and squat 280, is now part of a veteran group.
“I think we definitely have a really good chance making another run for state,” he said.
Heuer does not expect Hanover to have much size but be “fairly athletic.” Hanover is again in Eight-Man, Division II, District 3 with Axtell and Frankfort. The three Twin Valley League squads finished a combined 29-6 with all but one loss to each other.
Division II titlist Osborne moves from the west to east. Hanover will face Osborne in non-district. Division I western powers Victoria, St. Francis and Central Plains bumped down a classification.
“It’s going to be important for our kids to come in focused and realize that the eastern side of the state hasn’t probably been this tough for a little while,” Heuer said.
Chet Kuplen, CEO/Founder of Sports in Kansas, on Jueneman
"He's definitley a kid we have our eye on in 8M-II this season. Hanover is always a contender and has one of the best programs in the state at the 8-man level. It's very impressive what type of athletes this school produces in such a small town year after year. He was an All-Non Senior pick from us last year on the Sports in Kansas team honoring all non-senior players, so he has a lot of potential."
How did you get involved in football?
Grew up watching my older brothers and being on the sidelines with them as a manager for 3 years.
What are your goals this season?
My goal this year is quite simple and that is to win another state title.
Do you guys have a shot to make a run this year?
Most definitely, our team has exactly what it takes to be a top of the line team.
What makes you such a force as a player?
Being football smart, during the game I recognize the defense and find the weak points to attack. Every week we watch game film with the team, to try and find just what we did wrong in the previous week, as well as watching it on our own. So just being able to admit what you did wrong and improve on it week in and week out is something I have been striving at while playing for Hanover.
What’s the atmosphere like to play football on Friday night for your school and town?
The atmosphere is great the crowd gets into it and really pushes you to score and make a big play.
For anyone that hasn’t seen one of your games, why come to one?
Coming to a Hanover football game is better than going to watch a college football game in my view. You know the other schools and know what needs to be done out on the field. The games can be remarkably interesting with a lot on the line which makes it even more fun for the crowd to get involved.
Who are other key players on your team?
A big defensive player returning is Jacob Klipp, he is also a smart guard to help our run game. Jacob Jueneman our QB is also going to be a key player on the offensive side of the ball.
Favorite thing about football?
My favorite thing about football is that it is unlike any of the other sports nothing teaches you to really be a man then being on that field on Friday nights. No other sport to me gives you that adrenaline rush of scoring and giving it everything your body can give.
Do you play any other sports, tell us about that, what other positions do you play?
I do track, baseball and basketball. Track last year (‘in 18) I ran the 100M 400M relay and did long and high jump. Baseball I play basically any position I am needed on the field. Basketball I was either a guard or post depending on the team.
What is it like to play for your coach?
Playing for Coach Heuer is a blessing. Being able to play for someone who understands the game as much as he does is the best thing a player could ask for.
What did you and the team do in the off-season to become better?
As a team we all get together every Wednesday and play 7 on 7 to get in shape until football in the summer begins. The whole team goes to weights and pushes to get better, faster, and stronger for the up and coming season.
What interest are you seeing at the next level and what are your plans?
I am really hoping to get a football scholarship somewhere haven’t quite figured out much about the future yet.
Favorite thing to do when you aren’t playing sports?
When I’m not playing sports, I am outside working, hanging out with friends, or working on cars.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In ten years wow never really took the time to think about it that much. Hopefully with a nice house and family, still going to football games at Hanover.
Favorite subject in school, what type of student are you, GPA?
My favorite subject is probably Art just because it gives me a break from everything and lets me express myself.
Who is your role model?
My role model could not just be one, but my family and God have given me all the support and help through life and football.
Best place to eat in your town or the surrounding area?
Best place to eat is Rickey’s, I love eating there my family and friends think I am going to turn into a chicken strip soon if I keep eating there.
One thing the average person wouldn’t know about you?
The average person would not know that I can’t feel my left foot due to lacerating my nerve and artery in an accident working out in the shop.
Anything else to add?
I broke my femur sometime last season down by knee and still played through the rest of the season until getting surgery mid-December.
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