Home / Whitewater: Dark horses for 'The Dome'
Whitewater: Dark horses for 'The Dome'
By Kennington Smith
WHS Class of 2013
Recap: Last season the Wildcats had another strong year going 7-2 before a devastating 23-22 loss to Griffin in the region playoffs. The defense was the key for the Wildcats last season as they were as shutdown as any team in the state allowing 14 points per game and only 7 points per game in the games they won.
On offense Whitewater was lead by QB John-Mark Rhodes and RB Trey Wafford who made countless big plays last year. This year coach Amos McCreary is faced with the huge challenge of replacing Rhodes, Wafford and other key seniors from last year’s squad. Whitewater won their jamboree game over East Coweta 20-13.
Offense: Seniors John –Mark Rhodes and Trey Wafford carried the Wildcats offense last year, Whitewater will not only have to replace them but three starters on the offensive line as well.
Quarterback: With the recent transfer of sophomore Jameson Vest the Wildcats are left with senior Austin Penland and Sophomore Jay Ashley competing for the starting job. Throughout the spring, through the summer, and into the fall neither has been able to separate themselves, as of right now Penland is the starter.
Running Back/Fullback: Replacing a talent such as Trey Wafford will be a daunting task for the Whitewater coaching staff but if there is a position where they’re not lacking talent its running back. It looks as though it will be a running back by committee with the starter being senior Kendall Conley who is drawing some interest from Mississippi State. Senior Jared Vincent and Sophomore Christian Wafford are also going to see a good amount of carries and sophomore Josh Alexander and junior Colton Clemons could also contribute.
“We got about 4 or 5 guys well feel great about, and they’re all going to get a chance” said Coach McCreary. Russell Welch, one of the impact freshmen of the 2011 season is the returning starter at fullback.
Wide Receiver/Tight End: Though the Wildcats top receiver Al Sutton graduated this also a position where the Cats have plenty of options. Senior Jake Carlson is coming in the starter having started several games last season and being on the receiving end of quite a few big passes from Rhodes. Fellow seniors Trevor Morgan, Jared Vincent, and Malcholm Graham will also line up a good amount at receiver. Look out for sophomore speedster Steve Covington to stretch the field for the Wildcats as well.
Tight End is a question mark as there is a lack of varsity experience returning, it looks like it will be a task handled by committee with senior Drew Yeager leading the way and senior Khari Anderson and junior Matthew Ogle in the mix.
Offensive Line- Perhaps the biggest weakness Whitewater has is the offensive line having to replace 3 starters in Colton Scurry, Sawyer Woodworth, and Jordan Watson who are all playing at the college level. The Wildcats may have some holes on the line but Coach McCreary was quick to point out that they have some guys who have experience coming back as well. Sophomore Dylan Crozier and senior Levi Kerlin are the two returning starters with Crozier at tackle and Levi at guard. Senior Patrick Dalton, who has started several games on the O-Line and is drawing serious interest from several D1 schools including Tennessee, Florida, and Kentucky, will replace Jordan Watson at tackle. Sophomore Corey Gates will handle the responsibilities of the other guard position while senior Tyler Sullenberger will start at center. Sophomores Alex Neal, Caleb and Josh Martinez could also see some snaps on the line as well.
Defense- The Wildcats became known state-wide for their dominate defensive play that earned them the nickname “The Stone Wall”. Most of the impact players from a year ago are coming back to a defense looking to be even more shutdown than before, however, they will have to replace a few key seniors.
The Wildcats run an unconventional 3-5-3 defense.
Defensive Line- Senior Malik Harris and Sophomore Russell Welch will play the majority of the snaps at nose guard with senior Patrick Dalton possibly getting some playing time there as well. Senior Dylan Davis returns as a starter at defensive end while senior Khari Anderson will start at the other end. Sophomore Caleb Martinez will add depth and also be in the rotation at end and nose guard.
Linebacker- The Whitewater will have to fill the void left by senior Roshaud Turner but linebacker might be the wildcats’ deepest position. Seniors Kendall Conley and Joey Renta, Sophomores Josh Alexander and Christian Wafford, and junior Colton Clemons all return to a core that wreaked havoc both in the run and pass game last season. Senior David Payton, Sophomore Christian Winslett, and Freshman Ian McIntyre will provide more depth and will be contributors at the position as well.
Secondary- The most dominating group of last season was the Wildcats’ secondary. They implemented a “No Fly Zone” as they didn’t allow a single passing yard in over half of the Wildcats’ games last season. This year the defensive backfield is looking strong once again despite losing 2 starters from a year ago: Tony Battle and Brandon Bolden. Returning starter senior Malcholm Graham and sophomore Steve Covington will handle the duties at cornerback, seniors Clay Chapman and Calvin Moses will also see their fair share of snaps as well.
Senior Jake Carlson will start at the safety and share playing time with fellow senior Jared Vincent. Replacing 2 starters will be tough but Malcholm Graham believes he can step up and be a leader. “I will get better every day and I plan on being a leader on and off the field” said Graham.
Special Teams- What some last year would call a question mark has turned into one of Whitewater’s strongest units. Senior Austin Barnard, the #2 ranked punter in the nation by ESPN, will play both kicker and punter. Sophomores Josh Alexander, Christian Wafford, and senior Jared Vincent will handle the kick/punt return duties. Senior Trevor Morgan, one of the best long snappers in the state, returns at this position for the Wildcats.
Overview- Despite moving up to 5-A classification and having to replace a huge part of last year’s offense, the Wildcats have all the talent to make a serious run at the state championship.
“We have to play with more quickness and assuredness, but if we can get past the first few games and stay healthy I think we’ll be right there in contention at the end of the season” said Coach McCreary.
Whitewater lost their opening game to Coffee 41-3.