Coach: Britton Devier, first year
Last year: 4-6, 3-3 SLL
Forecast: After an 0-6 start in 2009, the Wildcats reeled off four straight wins to end the year and gain a nice churn of momentum heading into this season.
Incoming junior quarterback Jon Sandwisch led that late charge and earned All-SLL second team honors for his efforts, but he also had the luxury of two effective passing targets in returning senior receivers Grant Weirich (6-1, 165) and Jake Zollinger (5-9, 170) and will again in 2010. Weirich caught over 30 passes and also earned SLL second team honors while Zollinger nabbed about 20 catches.
Sandwisch led The Press area with 1,434 yards passing last season during the regular season. He completed 92-of-187 passes (49.2 percent) and threw 13 touchdown passes. Sandwisch also ran for 327 yards in 93 attempts (3.5 per carry) and scored three rushing touchdowns.
Add in returning senior halfback Pierce Fonseca (5-9, 165) and senior starting center Zak Avers (5-10,187), both honorable mentions in ’09, and there is reason for Woodmore football to be excited about its prospects of putting together the program’s first winning campaign since 2003.
While the nucleus of the offense returns, however, the Wildcats will not be using the spread offense it lived on under former coach Lou Bosh.
Enter new coach Britton Devier, 26-years-young and taking on his first varsity head coaching gig after spending three seasons as an assistant at powerhouse Patrick Henry and 2005 at Otsego, then itself a regional small division powerhouse.
Devier is ready to take the blueprints he studied and mastered at his former positions and implement them into turning the Wildcats into a power of his own creation.
“I’m going to be using what I’ve learned,” he said. “I decided that there’s no reason to reinvent what I don’t need to.”
The biggest change to be seen on upcoming Friday nights will be the transformation of a veteran offense into a pro-style one characterized by West Coach passing schemes and a power running game, the same style offense the ever-victorious Patriots run over in Henry County under legendary coach Bill Inselmann. Devier said his seasoned weapons have made a quick and encouraging transition.
“These kids were ready for the change,” he said. “They’ve caught on real quickly and the offense will take care of itself. There’s an answer for everything.”
Woodmore essentially returns six starters on either side of the ball, but only 11 returning lettermen with a youth-laden roster of 41 athletes. There are only seven seniors on the Wildcats roster.
While the offense has its attractive returning foundation and should manifest just fine, Devier feels his 5-2 defense will have to have some of the younger, inexperienced players step up to adequately surround returning senior honorable mention linebacker Bryan Kuhlman (5-10, 165, 140 tackles in 2009), the anchor.
Junior 5-9, 190-pound DE Cody Lockhart is one of the guys Devier is looking to for that immediate injection.
“He’s going to be a really nice defensive end for us,” Devier said.
The veteran presence will help, as Fonseca mans the strong safety position and Weirich plays free safety. Avers will play the other DE spot opposite Lockhart and Zollinger returns to corner back after earning league honorable mention a year ago.
“The defense will still be a 5-2, but coached a little differently,” explained Devier. “We’re doing a few things different here and there, but the terminology is relatively the same.”
Devier believes if all the pieces fall into place, the Wildcats can make a very memorable 2010 for everyone involved.
“The kids have bought into the offense and will score some points and the passing game is further along than I expected at this point,” he said. “We’ve got to shore up our defense and get more consistent running the football.
“Our primary goal is to have that first winning season since 2003 and comepete weekly, including in the (SLL). Our ultimate goal is to make the playoffs, and that’s a lofty goal, but I don’t think it’s out of the question if we can reach our potential and stay healthy.”