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Seven Questions Heading Into Football Season

Michael Ramirez and Nick Kucholtz

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After a heartbreaking playoff overtime loss to McKinney North and a long offseason of preparation, it is finally time for the Wakeland Wolverine football team to take the field again. Tomorrow night, the Wolverines kick off their season against Lake Dallas at 7:30. Before this year’s campaign begins, we answer seven questions in our 2015 Wakeland football preview.

Offensive Player To Watch:

Nick Kucholtz: With two years of varsity experience under his belt, wide receiver Noah Anderson is my player to watch. Having played quarterback and wide receiver while occasionally carrying the ball on wide receiver swings, Anderson is a pure athlete. With his speed and solid catching ability, Anderson will be one of quarterback Mason Doerr’s primary targets.

Michael Ramirez: Last season, stepping up to be one of the key components to Wakeland’s success, Cole Hutchens had 213 yards receiving with five touchdowns. This is only two touchdowns behind last years leading receiver, Justice Williams. That’s why I choose Hutchens to be my offensive player to watch. With Williams graduated, the path is clear for Hutchens to have a successful junior campaign and be the go-to receiver for Doerr this season.

Defensive Player to Watch

Nick Kucholtz: Out of the defensive 11, there are plenty of players that stand out to me, but one specifically is senior linebacker, Reign Whitby. He was on the varsity team last season, but did not play as a starter. Alongside Tanner Euting, Whitby will pack the center of the field at inside linebacker. Not only does Whitby posses great strength and aggressiveness, but outstanding speed as well. As a former running back, his speed will undoubtedly help the defensive core for the entire duration of the season.

Michael Ramirez: After having a breakout sophomore season at tight end in 2013, Tanner Euting made his presence known on the defensive side of the ball and was a key part of Wakeland’s bi-district championship. After catching seven passes for 207 yards and a touchdown, Euting wasn’t targeted much last season, but made up for his lack of passes in the linebacker position where he showed great run defense. I expect Euting to play a large role if Wakeland is to repeat the success they had last season.

Record Prediction

Nick Kucholtz: I think Wakeland will lose three games this season, assuming a healthy year is ahead of them. However, I do think two of those three losses will be non-district, putting the Wolverines near the top of District 9-5A’s standings. When all’s said and done, I think the Orange and Blue will finish second in the district. Part of my reasoning is due to the fact that the other teams in the district aren’t all that great, and part of it is because this football team has a lot of talent. Predicting losses to Lake Dallas, Lovejoy and The Colony, I see this team finishing 7-3 and clinching a playoff spot. As far as the postseason goes, I think this team is capable of accomplishing their first playoff win in school history.

Michael Ramirez: This one is tricky to answer because there are still many questions surrounding the strength of District 9-5A this season. I’m going to say Wakeland will have a 1-1 record going into district play after a loss to Lovejoy, a team that will have a high powered offense that might be too much for the Wolverine defense. The district standings should be tight again this season, but the Colony has many veteran leaders returning and Lone Star quarterback Jason Shelley is back for another year. He and the Lone Star team just barely missed the playoffs last year, so I expect Wakeland to finish 3rd behind those two at a 6-4 record and 5-3 in the district.

Key Factor to Success

Nick Kucholtz: The main thing the Wolverines need to do to succeed is to force turnovers. The 3-4 defense is the strongpoint of this team, and the more turnovers they create, the more opportunities they can give the offense to put points on the scoreboard. The depth on this Wolverine defense is stacked with talent, and if they can help the offense by creating a lot of turnovers, Wakeland’s chances of winning will only rise.

Michael Ramirez: One thing that an inexperienced quarterback often tries to do is to do everything by himself in order to prove himself. That shouldn’t be the case for Mason Doerr due to the amount of talent he has around him, including Jay Orji at running back and a strong receiving core. Part of Wakeland’s success this season, in my opinion, is dependent on how well Doerr can perform. Fortunately for him, the offense’s strength assures that he doesn’t have to do everything in order for the Wolverines to be successful. He’s shown promise and even speed. During Wakeland’s game against Independence last year, Doerr ran 79 yards for a touchdown.

Breakout Player to Watch

Nick Kucholtz: I’m going with Cole Hutchens on this one. The junior wide receiver has raw talent in his position. Both quick and a good route runner, Hutchens tops his talent off with an incredible set of hands. He’s going to be one of Mason Doerr’s priorities on offense. I predict that his name will be dialed up a lot this season.

Michael Ramirez: With many talented wide receivers at his disposal, I expect Mason Doerr to make some noise this season if he can keep his completion percentage up and limit his number of turnovers. With little experience in a varsity game, Doerr has a huge responsibility at the helm of the offense. I think that if he stays composed and gets comfortable on the field, he can raise some eyebrows and hopefully lead the Wolverines to a playoff victory.

Team Weakness

Nick Kucholtz: One thing that may hold Wakeland’s team back is their depth. Now, this doesn’t mean there isn’t talent on the bench nor am I speaking for all positions. There are just so many inexperienced backups. If the Wolverines lose a starter to injury during the season, it might be hard to find a replacement who will produce quite as much.

Michael Ramirez: A weakness for the Wolverines last season as well, a major setback is the lack of depth in the secondary. This is especially important following Jaron Rice’s departure to Plano West, leaving the Wolverines without one of their starting cornerbacks and kick returners. If players such as Bryce Kozeny and Noah Anderson can step up as leaders, they can overcome this setback. Even still, it will be a tough task.

Bold Prediction of The Season

Nick Kucholtz: I see this team having three players making the first all-district team. The three players that I’m talking about are offensive tackle Jacob Todora, linebacker Tanner Euting and wide receiver Noah Anderson. On the line, Todora has already proven his abilities. His commitment to Southern Methodist University during the summer is a testament to his success on the field. At linebacker,Tanner Euting made all-district last season, and with his incredible passion and talent, I expect him to make first-team this year. As for Anderson, I like his chances because he will be targeted a whole lot this season. Doerr will be throwing to him multiple times each game, and if Anderson capitalizes on his opportunities, he is capable of accomplishing this prestigious honor.

Michael Ramirez: My prediction is running back Jay Orji to run for over 1,200 yards this season. The reason I say this is because of the promise and talent he put on display late last season. In just 71 carries Orji ran for 629 yards and scored six touchdowns, and even that was with Brent Altieri carrying most of the load in the backfield. His junior year can be a huge step up from last season, but I think if Wakeland has to rely on the running game this year, Orji could see a lot of carries throughout 2015. This prediction is bold, but it could happen if he stays healthy.

 

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Seven Questions Heading Into Football Season