There really is no secret to Woodmore’s up-tempo spread offense.
“We try to play faster than you can line up,” coach Britton Devier said. “We’re trying to run the few plays we run and execute them better than you can defend them.”
Senior running back/linebacker Tony Rozzi said the Wildcats’ offense is so fast-paced “you don’t realize how well the coaches condition you.”
“The refs have had to slow us down because they’re breathing so hard and they can’t get the ball placed fast enough,” Rozzi said. “It’s fun. You don’t realize how fast you’re going. One of our scoring drives against Port Clinton, we ran 10 plays in 2 minutes, 30 seconds, and that was a 70-yard drive. The coaches are the ones pushing us every day to get better. They’re really supportive and they expect big things out of us.”
Woodmore (2-0) breezed through its first two games, beating Port Clinton 55-7 and Cardinal Stritch 56-6. The schedule gets more difficult beginning Friday, when the ‘Cats travel to Tiffin Calvert before opening the Northern Buckeye Conference season at Eastwood.
Regardless, the Wildcats are putting up the offensive numbers they expect each week. Woodmore’s offensive starters only played the first half and the first series of the third quarter against the Redskins and Cardinals.
Senior quarterback Jake Matwiejczyk is 30-of-45 passing for 453 yards and five touchdowns, and he has rushed for 210 yards and six touchdowns on 25 carries.
“I love it,” Matwiejczyk said of the offense. “We have a lot of speed all around, we have a great line. Our offense is built on speed. The faster we can go, the faster we can score. We’re comfortable right now, but we can do better. We need to be better every week.”
Rozzi leads the team in rushing, with 25 carries for 221 yards and three touchdowns. Senior receivers Evan Ulinski (8 catches, 104 yards, 1 TD), Malachi Brown (5, 137, 1) and Dan Sprinski (7, 107, 2) are pulling their weight.
“Most of our receivers are seniors, and I’ve been playing with them since about the fourth grade,” Matwiejczyk said. “I have all the confidence in the world in those guys. I know if I throw it to them, they’re going to run the right route and they’re going to catch it.”
Devier said Woodmore wanted to commit to running the ball more effectively this season out of its one-back, four-receiver set. Rozzi has become the featured back after splitting time in the backfield a year ago.
“He runs hard,” Devier said. “This year he’s getting all the carries, and through two weeks he’s done a heck of a job. He’s a super kid who would do anything you ask. He’s going to go as hard as he can, no matter what. If you ask him, he would give the credit to his offensive line. The line is really coming together so far.”
The Wildcats knew what they were going to get out of All-NBC receiver Ulinski this season. They were also expecting big things from sophomore wideout Zach Sandwisch, who tore his ACL during a preseason scrimmage and is out for the year, but the other receivers have stepped up to fill the void.
“Ulinski is the toughest pound-for-pound kid I’ve ever seen,” Devier said. “He’ll play his guts out for you. Dan has been our shutdown corner for three years now, but offensively he had never blossomed. This year he’s catching the ball and running good routes. Malachi is as fast as they come. He runs track and he’s big, about 195 pounds. He started off as just our kicker, and over the last couple years we’ve stolen him from the soccer team. He’s been having a heck of a year.”
The key to the offense, however, is undoubtedly Matwiejczyk, who has “looked very good so far,” according to Devier.
“He’s improved in every aspect,” the coach said. “He’s naturally a great runner and he’s gotten more comfortable in the offense, and his reads are all there. He worked really hard all summer and all offseason on throwing downfield passes. That’s what we were missing last year. We never had a downfield threat. His reads in the passing game and the ability to throw downfield have seen the most improvement.”
If the Wildcats are going to contend for an NBC title and their first playoff berth since 2001, they’ll have to keep up the pace on offense and continue to play good defense. The next two weeks will be a good indicator of where Woodmore needs to be.
“I like how everyone just has confidence,” Rozzi said. “I have confidence in my teammates, that they’re going to do their job. I don’t have to worry about, say, our right guard, making sure he gets his block so Jake can throw the ball. I guess you could say we all believe in each other.”