As far as Woodmore coach Lou Bosh is concerned, all of the credit for the Wildcats' turnaround these last three weeks goes to the players.
After starting out 0-6, a streak that included back-to-back 55-0 and 76-34 losses to Genoa and Eastwood, respectively, the Wildcats have bounced back to win their last three games. Woodmore (3-6, 2-3 Suburban Lakes League) hosted winless Otsego on Friday to close the regular season.
"They have continued to come back and come back," Bosh said of his squad. "What do you say when you're 0-6? We at times were starting to search in Week 5 and Week 6, (saying), 'What can we give these guys to keep their focus and keep their drive there.'
"I credit the kids. They stayed positive and kept coming back and working hard. They were focusing on the things we were doing in the whole process of getting better week by week. We started to see some rewards there and how hard we were playing. It worked out well for the guys."
After losing to Port Clinton, Fairview, Tiffin Calvert, Genoa, Eastwood and Lake by a combined score of 256-114, Woodmore finally earned its first win of the season by beating Elmwood 26-18.
The 'Cats followed with a 34-14 non-league win over Cleveland John Rhodes and last week's 24-0 shutout of Gibsonburg.
"We struggled in the first five games because we faced some very good defenses," Bosh said. "Starting out league play, we go against Genoa and Eastwood, so the first five games we went through the gauntlet. In the Eastwood game, where we were able to score 34 points, we got into a groove where things started to click for us offensively.
"Then next week we continued that and from there we had things going in the right direction. The first half of the season prepared us heavily for the second half of the season. The kids are playing well offensively and defensively. They have come back each week and tried to outplay their last week's performance."
Woodmore has certainly found its quarterback of the future in 6-2, 175-pound sophomore Jon Sandwisch, who saw some playing time as a freshman. Sandwisch showcased his talents in the Oct. 9 win over Elmwood, which had won six in a row over the Wildcats.
In that game, Sandwisch scored on runs of 2 and 13 yards and threw a 47-yard TD pass to Aaron Albright and a 30-yard scoring pass to Jake Zollinger. He also tossed a two-point conversion to Adam Trolio.
Sandwisch missed last week's win over Gibsonburg with a pulled leg muscle, but in eight games he has completed 86-of-177 passes for 1,317 yards and 12 touchdowns, with 12 interceptions. He is also the team's second-leading rusher, with 231 yards and two TDs on 83 carries.
"The things he was doing for us last year, we saw that he was really going to absorb the offense and really take off with it," Bosh said. "He had to be taught and coached to grow into it. Since game one this year he's come in with a lot of excitement, learning to be a good leader through his experiences each week.
"He's continued to grow. He still has a long ways to go and a lot to learn, and can learn, to be that much of a better quarterback. We expect him to continue to grow. For him to have the year he's had this year has been very good for him and good for this team because of his throwing ability and being able to get the ball to some of those receivers."
The Wildcats' top receiver is junior Grant Weirich, with 26 catches for 456 yards and five TDs. Zollinger, a junior who started at quarterback last week, has 16 catches for 301 yards and four scores. Albright, a senior, has 15 catches for 241 yards and two TDs, and senior Justin Garver has 17 catches for 229 yards and one touchdown.
"They run their patterns hard and do a nice job catching the ball," Bosh said. "It's nice to know that Jon has a corps of receivers to throw to. When they catch the ball, they have the potential to break long touchdowns."
Junior tailback Pierce Fonseca leads the 'Cats in rushing, with 574 yards and eight touchdowns on 149 carries.
"He's been such an important part of our offense," Bosh said. "He gives us everything. He struggled through some minor injuries that kind of hampered him, but the kid goes hard all the time. He plays offense and defense (strong safety) and he's a hard worker. He's there for the team and he just wants the team to win."
Woodmore loses four senior starters on offense and seven on defense from this year's squad.
"It's been fun to see these guys win," Bosh said. "It's been a long time coming. They deserve it."