Coach: Lou Bosh, 12th year, 50-61
Last Year: 2-8 (2-5, SLL)
Forecast: While Woodmore gained a great deal of experience last season - the Wildcats had only five seniors — the SLL coaches still aren’t convinced that the ‘Cats could be poised to make a title run this season.
Woodmore, which returns six starters on offense and nine starters on defense, was picked to finish fifth in the seven-team SLL. The Wildcats have gone 10-20 over the last three seasons.
“We expect to build on the experience we gained last year and play with much more confidence,” Bosh said. “We expect to work hard and improve each week and handle the challenges we face each week. We expect to fulfill our responsibilities on the field and do them to the best of our abilities.”
The Wildcats’ offense will be in the hands of sophomore quarterback Jon Sandwisch. He replaces Michael Fahle, a three-year starter who started under center last season.
“Jon has a strong arm,” Bosh said. “He’s quarterback-minded and he brings some good skills to the quarterback position. He’s young and still learning. He just wants to do well. Being at that quarterback spot, he wants to do the right things and not make mistakes.”
Sandwisch, behind the graduated Michael Fahle (612 yards passing), threw for 158 yards in 2008, including two touchdowns.
Sandwisch’s targets in Woodmore’s spread offense, which will usually line up in four-receiver sets, are senior wideouts Justin Garver, Adam Trolio and Aaron Albright, and junior receiver Grant Weirich. Garver, an honorable mention all-league pick last year, is the team’s top returning receiver.
Backup quarterback Jake Zollinger, a junior who sat out last season, will also line up as a wideout.
“Jake’s got a lot of football savvy,” Bosh said. “He played as a freshman. He wasn’t with us last year and we’re very excited about him playing again. He has a lot of football instincts. I believe our skilled players are a strength for us. We were young last year and we gained a great deal of experience, but we still need to work to prove ourselves.”
In the backfield, senior Matt Travis and junior Pierce Fonseca both saw action at running back in 2008.
“They run the ball hard and they have decent speed,” Bosh said. “They both work hard and they’ll both get their touches with the ball. There will be times where they will both be in the backfield blocking for each other.”
The Wildcats’ returning starters on offense are Garver, Trolio, Albright, Weirich and senior guards Ben St. John and Joey Braun. St. John was honorable mention All-SLL as a junior.
On defense the Wildcats return honorable mention all-league picks John Custer, a senior defensive end who has been moved to outside linebacker; junior linebacker Bryan Kuhlman, junior free safety Grant Weirich and junior strong safety Pierce Fonseca.
Kuhlman and Fonseca are Woodmore’s top returning tacklers.
The other returning starters on defense are Travis at outside linebacker, Garver at cornerback, senior nose guard Aaron Rollins, senior corner DeVaughnte Askew and senior inside linebacker Tyler Donnell.
“A lot of those seniors all started last year as juniors,” Bosh said, “and we have a lot of kids coming back who were starters on either side of the ball. Now they’re juniors and seniors, but we still have a long way to go and a lot to prove.”
Bosh, who has 45 players on his roster, said the Wildcats’ lack of depth is a concern.
“We need to stay healthy,” he said. “Our offensive line needs to solidify itself and be productive in our running game, and our defense needs to improve greatly.”
Woodmore opens the season Aug. 28 at home against Port Clinton. Then, they travel to Green Meadows Conference territory to face the perennial air attack of Sherwood Fairview. On October 16, to fill the void left by Lakota when that school left the SLL, Woodmore will now host Cleveland Rhodes out of the historic Senate — Cleveland's public school league.