Algona Football Brings High Expectations Into 2023

by Tyler Lance
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After missing out on the playoffs with an injury-filled 2022 season, the Algona Bulldog football team enters 2023 with a renewed set of expectations, competing in a new-look district.

The 2022 season brought a 3-0 start for Algona before a 1-5 finish over the final six games, including losses in the final three. In spite of that, expectations are high headed into 2023. It starts at the quarterback position with junior Alex Manske. Manske took the reigns as a sophomore last year, throwing for 1688 yards with 16 touchdowns and 8 interceptions, completing 57% of his passes. Manske also rushed for 407 yards and 6 touchdowns. The Bulldog junior has received several power five offers and enters the season as one of the state’s top quarterbacks. Algona Head Coach Andy Jacobson says Manske’s knowledge of the game and leadership are both very advanced.

Several of Manske’s top targets from last year are graduated, as four of the top five receiving yardage leaders on the Bulldogs last season were seniors, as well as leading rusher Lamorn Ulfers. Algona returns senior Porter Reffer, who led the team with 364 receiving yards and four touchdowns in spite of missing some time due to injury. Senior Jayden Erpelding is also one of the top returning weapons on offense, as he recorded 21 receptions for 163 yards to go along with 18 carries for 91 yards last season. Sophomore Evan Allie is another Bulldog expected to step into a bigger role on offense.

On the defensive side of the ball, Algona returns several key pieces. Jacobson says that unit was young last year, but now has the experience to take steps forward.

Manske is the leading returning tackler, making 58.5 stops last year to go along with 2 interceptions as Algona’s starting safety. The Bulldogs also return starting linebackers Reid Louwagie and Matt Hoover, both seniors. Junior Jack Limbaugh, who also has several power five offers, will be featured up front on both sides of the ball.

Jacobson says strong numbers for the program will give the roster a lot of depth heading into the season.

Algona will compete against a revamped district, one which features more North Central Conference opponents that the Bulldogs face in other sports. Instead of facing Ballard, North Polk, and Gilbert this season, Algona will welcome NCC foes Clear Lake, Hampton-Dumont-CAL, and Webster City into the district, as well as Charles City. The Bulldogs will also continue their rivalry with Humboldt, a holdover from the previous iteration of the district grouping. Between the new-look district and a tough non-conference schedule, Jacobson says their will be plenty of challenges for Algona this season.

According to Jacobson, the biggest focus for Algona will be taking care of the process on a daily basis and letting the results follow.

Algona opens the season on Friday, August 25th by hosting Spirit Lake.

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