Some wouldn’t consider a 4-5 record successful, but for the Wooster football team, it’s a noticeable improvement after spending consecutive seasons as the pin cushion for the Northern Division I-A.
Fielding a team of 35 players, the Colts look forward to continuing that momentum, which saw Wooster upset a down Truckee team last year as well as give both Lowry and Elko tough games. Although the team is young after losing its top three rushers and top two receivers, Wooster coach Vince Johnson is eager to see how his 12 seniors lead the team.
“We are so much younger than we were last season,” Johnson said. “It will all depend on how our few seniors take ownership of the team and how quickly our many juniors and sophomores learn the speed and physicality of the game.”
Wooster returns its quarterback, junior Hunter Triplett, who threw for 1,694 yards on 129 of 240 passes. Triplett also threw for 22 touchdowns against 13 interceptions.
With new faces in the offense, the goal will be to establish a running game to allow for Triplett to spread the ball around the field. Seniors Wolfgang Ashcraft, Carlos Lopez and Jorge Villa and juniors Hifer Tabbada, John Martel and Abraham Medina, and sophomore Romeo Okorie are listed as running backs this season.
“We will have an exciting offense,” Johnson said. “We will spread the ball around to a good core of receivers. Our run game should be able to take pressure off our quarterback. We have an all-underclassman offensive line, but they are tough and expect to do well.”
One of Triplett’s favorite targets in the air last season is back as senior Chris Greco will lead a young receiving group. Greco was third on the team with 24 receptions for 364 yards and six touchdowns last year. He was also the team’s best kick returner.
“We are very young. I expect us to learn to compete, learn to play for each other and learn to make sacrifices for the good of the team,” Johnson said.
Seniors Jose Rodriguez, Juan Martinez, Mark Valero, Alex Parrot, Ryan Gage and Ethan Price will line up as receivers this year as well as juniors Solomon Louris, Genaro Cortez, Joey Gates, Kevin Lopez-Vegas and Bill Brown. Sophomore Andrew Marable is also a receiver.
On the other side of the ball, the defense is also young with only one returning starter.
“Our defense will be aggressive,” Johnson said. “There are some new wrinkles this year on that side of the ball and our young players are picking things up very well.”
Johnson expects Greco, a defensive back, to help lead the defense as well as Ashcraft and Gage, both linebackers. Junior lineman Nick Barnum is positioned to have a good season, too.
With the playoffs the ultimate goal for any team in the DI-A, Johnson doesn’t want his team to lose focus on making improvements every week. With the division stacked with several dominating teams, like Fallon, Elko and Lowry, Johnson wants to see the record take care of itself.
“I don’t want our players caught up in the win-loss thing,” he said. “We need to be able to focus on giving all we have and letting the chips fall where they may.”