Dubuque Senior has had some talented pass-catchers in coach Dale Ploessl’s tenure. None have been quite the game-breaker that Kendrick Watkins-Hogue is.
A 6-foot-1, 160-pound junior, Watkins-Hogue is enjoying a breakout season as the Rams’ top deep threat. The Telegraph Herald Athlete of the Week is also the Rams top speed threat, enjoys run blocking, and has broken the program’s season receiving yards record after just six games.
“He’s got some of the best ball skills and sense for the ball that I’ve ever seen,” Ploessl said. “It’s really fun to watch at times. He can do some things that we haven’t had guys that can do before. He’s having a great year. We’ve got a guy getting him the ball which is the big thing.”
In fact, that quarterback-receiver connection is tops in Class 4A, and one of the best in the state. Watkins-Hogue leads Class 4A in receiving yards and is tied for the lead in touchdown receptions. He already has broken the school’s single-game receiving record three times this season — first with a 208-yard game against Davenport North in Week 2, then in Week 5 he caught five passes for 212 yards.
“He’s pretty dangerous,” said Senior quarterback Tommy Casey, who leads 4A in passing yards.
On Friday night against Waterloo West, Watkins-Hogue caught 12 passes for 222 yards and a touchdown. He had an impressive touchdown reception of 75 yards, then added a 65-yard catch and run through a double team and a pass interference penalty to help set up a late touchdown.
He now has 41 receptions for 869 yards and seven touchdowns. He has also run the ball four times for 30 yards and has made 11 tackles at cornerback.
“It’s only my third year playing receiver, so I’m still learning it,” Watkins-Hogue said. “But my coaches got me 100 percent.”
That wasn’t the way Watkins-Hogue expected the game to go, though. He said he wasn’t sure Casey would be able to play after nursing an injury during the week.
“Tommy Casey is always pushing me to be better, so when I thought he was going to be hurt this game, I worked harder on my blocking, just in case we had to run the ball a lot,” Watkins-Hogue said. “But when he got in the game, he told me, ‘Kendrick, we got this, we’re going to throw the ball, they can’t guard you.’”
Watkins-Hogue also enjoys his job run-blocking. Rams running back Cain McWilliams is his cousin.
“It’s always a great time blocking for him and lighting people up,” Watkins-Hogue said. “It’s always great having the pass game going strong and the run game going strong, because they can’t guard both of us at the same time. That’s what teams struggle with. If the pass game is going strong and they go to block the pass game, our run game is coming right back at them with the yardage. We’re a two-headed dragon.”