Sporting WCA

2017 Football Preview

In a season mired by high expectations, political controversy, and a heavy exodus of seniors from the year before, the WCA football team had a VERY rough season last year. The bright side? That was last year, and with all that turmoil in the past, the team this year is almost guaranteed to improve by a significant margin.

It is scary to look at the football team’s record from this past year (3-7) and realize that the Cats lost their top receiver, star running back, and two best defenders. Many people might think, where are our points, our tackles, and our yards going to come from? Well, I can answer those questions.

The most significant change from last year is on the sideline. With Coach Peterson’s resignation at the end of last season the team has new leadership in Head Coach Keith Herring. Herring comes over from Brentwood High School where he built a very solid program, his team finished with a 11-2 record last season. Herring runs a very different kind of team than Westminster has seen in the past. This year’s practices have been physical, much to the delight of his players.

“Coach has very high intensity and keeps the physicality up. It keeps the whole team motivated” said Senior Quarterback Chad Briden, who will is going into his second year as varsity starter.

While Chad only played 5 of the team’s 10 games this season, his numbers were still quite impressive. Chad completed 76 passes for 1142 yards and 8 touchdowns. Chad averaged 228 passing yards per game, a very impressive statistic for a first year varsity player. Briden has been playing football for years and has a very high IQ about the game. Briden is looking to raise eyebrows not only from the home supporters but also college scouts this year, and will very likely continue to play at the next level. Chad also has his favorite receiver returning in Grant LaValle.

LaValle and Briden’s chemistry was obvious in the five games that they played together, LaValle had 15 receptions for 336 yards and 3 touchdowns, in the 5 games with Chad under center. With a different QB Lavalle had 6 receptions for 49 yards and 1 touchdown… a pretty significant difference that demonstrates the chemistry Lavalle had built with Chad specifically in the past. In the two’s second year together on varsity, you can look to see some big things from this duo.

Last season, Junior Charlie McCracken was forced to be benched for the first 4 games due to MSHSAA transfer rules. While he was only eligible for 6 games in 2016, McCracken had a profound impact on the defensive line. He even had one game where he turned in over 15 tackles. With the defense losing most of its key contributors from last season, the success of the unit will likely hinge on the success of McCracken.

Moving away from the incoming seniors likely impact on this years team, there are several Juniors who will play major roles as well. First of which is Isaac Johnston. While Johnston did not see much action this past season, the Junior has the perfect build for a tight end. He has the strength to block defensive linemen on his own as well as the hands to haul in passes anywhere in his large catch radius. Johnston is also an effective Defensive End who played well in his role which should improve even more this season.

While the Offense will be dangerous this season, the defense is a bit of a question mark. Other than McCracken, the team is missing more than half of their starting defenders from last year. McCracken, along with cornerback Jeremiah Thompson, are going to have to use their experience to provide a heavy percentage of the teams tackles next season. Atlin Hall, Levi Alldredge, and Thomas Lauer are all going to need to step up and fill in some sizable gaps on the defensive side of the ball next season.

With an offense that has fantastic potential, and a defense that will be looking for some less experienced players to step up, the Westminster Wildcats football team will be one to keep an eye on this year.