Scoring more than 40 points a game last fall, the Waubonsie Valley offense garnered a lot of attention.
In some ways, that high-scoring offense might have overshadowed the efforts of the defense, which was very good for most of the year as the Warriors allowed just under 18 points per game.
With turnover on the offensive line, as well as a handful of new skilled players in the backfield and at wide receiver and quarterback, the defense playing rock solid will be key this season, alongside an offense that will have to mature quickly.
“We lost a lot of O-linemen and some other guys, and have more returning starters on defense than offense,” senior linebacker Ryan Strick said. “With more experience on defense, we know we have to step up and our coaches have told us that.”
Strick and fellow senior linebacker Kenny Woodruff each have a full season of experience as starters so they’ll look to share that with the rest of the defensive unit. Defensive backs Josh Scudder, Jake McCabe, Griffin Becker and Chris Fenley look to play key roles as does junior Max Ihry. Becker missed part of last year due to an injury, but will be ready to go come fall.
“We’re changing things up a little bit and the juniors are adapting well,” Woodruff said. “We know the system and having a lot of experience returning helps. We want to try go deeper into the postseason this year and do something we’ve never done before.”
The defense’s biggest loss was Hugh Griffin, last year’s Defensive MVP of the Upstate Eight Valley, but Strick and Woodruff were able to learn a great deal playing alongside him.
“Kenny and I got to learn and experience a lot starting as juniors,” Strick said. “Now it’s our turn to step up and lead the team. So far it’s coming together really nice. We’ve earned the respect from a lot of our teammates and we’re just real excited. It’s going to be a good season.”
Speed and quickness will need to prevail over size as the Warriors aren’t going to be big.
“We’re not going to necessarily be the biggest, but we’re going to be really fast,” Strick said. “We’re going to be really quick and that’s showing in our 7-on-7s so far. We’re picking it up and making a lot of plays.”
It also helps that the Warriors are a tight-knit group, especially the seniors who know that their high school playing careers all come down to this season.
“We’re a close group that hangs outside of football too,” Woodruff said. “Everyone knows what they have to do so no one overplays or underplays, but is just doing their assignment. If we can do that, we should be able to work together successfully.”Tags: Waubonsie Valley