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RGR Spotlight | 'We have something to prove': WR Isaac Klug embraces the opportunity 2022 presents
Part of the RGR Spotlight series. New installments every Monday leading up to kickoff of the 2022 season.
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When Isaac Klug secured the ball against his chest off a laser from Colby Gomez with 5:22 left in the first quarter against Goddard to go up 14-0, the Newton faithful had a feeling the Railers were about to do what they hadn’t all season: win.
It was a moment of sheer ecstacy for a team that had lost its first five games to open the season.
“That game against Goddard, I feel like that was probably my best game,” Klug said. “I had around 90 yards, quite a few catches, and a touchdown. I felt like that was one of our team's best games.
We only had two wins — but that was a turning point in our season.”
The 2021 campaign for Newton is better recalled in these moments rather than wins and losses. The scrappy play of a young roster light on seniors provided constant optimism during an otherwise grueling fall — one that resulted in the departure of a head coach.
And that scrappiness, from making catches while laying on the turf to playing emergency running back, was embodied by rising senior wide receiver Klug. It made him one of his team’s most reliable go-to playmakers.
And now, fresh off a 2nd team all-Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Division 1 honor and his first offer to play at the collegiate level from nearby NAIA-member Bethel College, he’s sharpening his game in every way possible.
Technically, this means becoming more sound at the point of attack.
“I'm really trying to get better at high-pointing catches — making catches in traffic and getting yards after the catch,” Klug said. “I feel like a lot of my receptions last year, I would just kind of catch the ball and go down. I’m certainly looking to be more explosive this season.”
Intangibly, it means strengthening the bond with his teammates.
“I've been going to a lot of camps just trying to get my recruitment picked up a little bit,” Klug said. “But more importantly, I've been doing a lot of stuff with the team. We've been through team camp at Fischer Field and we just got back from a team camp at Benedictine College.
We’re really locked in on building team chemistry and getting ready for the season.”
No chemistry however, as any wide receiver can attest, is nearly as important as the one between a pass-catcher and his quarterback. It was the driving force behind why the Gomez-Klug connection took center stage in 2021, dating all the way back to when the Railers squared off with one of the state’s best defenses in Andover Central in the season opener.
And when asked about said relationship, Klug didn’t hesitate to affirm its importance. “It was a tough quarterback race before last season and Colby came out on top,” Klug recalled. “I mean, as soon as we found out that news, we did all we could to do some extra stuff both within and outside of practice.
He targets me a lot. And I appreciate that. And the more things we do, like just going to the field and running routes on air … just putting in extra work, it’ll only get better with time.”
That connection, the willingness of a team to rally around each other and have an impeccable shared work ethic, and the arrival of a head coach with a state title under his belt leaves Klug with nothing but confidence in a seasoned and maturing Newton squad — one that the senior feels has quite the chip in its shoulder.
“We definitely have something to prove,” Klug noted. “We’re bringing back a good majority of our team. Our whole offense is pretty much back except for Jake [Schmidt].”
And as for the new man in charge, the sentiment couldn’t be clearer: “Coach Slade is just as happy to be here as we are to have him here. He’s fired up and so are we.”