We are entering the 3rd year of Fulton being in the NUIC, and all they have done is post back to back quarterfinal seasons. The Steamers have lost 6 games in that time, with 4 of them coming to conference foe Lena-Winslow in the regular season and playoffs. Fulton will need to figure out a way to keep the Panthers from putting up 50 plus points to give them an opportunity to compete for a state title.
Coach Patrick Lower relied on an inexperienced senior class last year to help keep the Steamers at the high level of play they have come expected to put up. In the past 6 playoff seasons they have made the quarterfinals 3 times, and have fallen victim to current or former NUIC foes in the playoffs for the past 5 seasons.
Once again, Lower will be replacing departed seniors with guys that don't have a lot of experience. However, this year will be different, as he will have a lot of sophomores and juniors filling in those roles for a team he describes as being athletic, but young. He is excited with this youth movement, as they have a group they can develop and compete with this year and moving forward. He is looking forward to the opportunity of opening up the season with a semifinal team (Forreston) and a state champion (Lena-Winslow) in the first 2 weeks. This will give the Steamers a chance to see where they are at out of the gates.
Leading the way for Fulton will be one of the best receivers in the state in senior Baylen Damhoff. Standing at 6'6" with great hands, good speed, and the ability to go up and high point the ball over the opposition, Lower describes Damhoff as that guy who can score on any play he has the ball. Posting 972 yards receiving and 13 TD's over the past 2 seasons, you can expect a lot of opponents to be keyed on him this year. Another player joining him in the receiving corp will be senior Trevor Tiesman. Last season, Tiesman played in the first 4 games of the season before suffering a broken collarbone and missing the remainder of the year. He is physical with great athleticism, and will be utilized on both sides of the ball. Other guys that will help out in the passing game will be senior AJ Boardman. He transferred into Fulton after basketball season, and will be utilized in the run game and pass game. Landen Leu is a 6'4" sophomore receiver that will give Fulton another weapon in the passing game. You can also expect to see junior Jacob Huisenga at TE, and be utilized both in the run and pass formations that we see out of the multiple sets Fulton likes to run.
With all these playmakers at receiver, the Steamers will be looking at junior Dom Kramer to be the gunslinger. A true dual threat QB, with the multiple formations you can find Fulton in, Kramer has the potential to put up big numbers in both the pass and run game. A strong guy with a big arm, Dom also will linebacker on the Steamer D.
Picking up the run game will be junior Skyler Crook. A fast and physical runner, Crook will be expected to get the bulk of the carries in the Steamer run game. Boardman will see some carries as well, as they expect to use him in a flex role as a receiver and a back.
Leading the way on the line will be returning starter junior Josiah Heald. Playing both ways on the line, Coach Lower is expecting Heald to be the leader of the group. They will also rely on junion Daniel Holman and sophomore Landon Boonstra to open holes in the run game and protect Kramer in the pass game.
Lower continues to develop his team to be tough to defend on offense, working to put the defense in different sets to exploit their weaknesses and slow them down. On defense, they will be running their familiar 4-4 defense. Coach Germann has been leading the defense since 1996, and will continue to do so in 2023.
Coach Lower's outlook on the conference goes through Lena-Winslow. However, with 4 teams that made quarterfinal runs last season, and Du-Pec consistently ranked in the top 10 in Class 3A, he feels the NUIC is absolutely loaded with talent. With how tough the NUIC is, he knows each team will provide challenges for them and he cannot over look any opponent. He said, "you cannot look down the road, you must play this conference week by week."
Fulton has become a staple in the NUIC, and you can expect to see them ranked in the top 10 when the polls open next week.
Playoff History 27-21
1976 4-0 Class 2A State Champion
1991 5-0 Class 2A State Champion