Welcome to the first game preview issue of the entire 2016 Westminster football campaign! It's a new year, but the same principles remain from the coaching staff: run the ball well, stop the opposition's running game, protect the ball, limit mistakes, take adversity head-on. The dream re-ignites this Saturday at 1 p.m. on the verdurous gridiron at Westminster Stadium. The Wildcats are stoked like the bonfires at Texas A&M during Rivalry Week (#CollegeHijinks). Will we see high-impact plays? Of course. Will our younger team make some mistakes. Probably, although one doubts it will be a mishap of the severity like drafting a dead guy (#CanadianFootballBlunders). The St. Mary's Dragons are coming to give us their best shot and, although the Southsiders from Grand Boulevard have fallen on more difficult times as of late, they like their late alum Yogi Berra, might truly say it's not over till it's over.
Despite St. Mary's 1-9 ledger last year (#MilkThatDubourgVictory), the Wildcats can take nothing for granted. Three Dragons' losses last season were by razor-thin margins: four against Confluence, three at Priory, and a 50-49 heartbreaker at home against a Borgia team that gave us all we could handle on Carnival day. Nothing lasts forever, whether it be a Watergate prison term, Elizabeth II's reign (#GodSaveTheQueen), or a bad spell for a high school football program (although Houston [TX] Scarborough came close). Fans may be quick to forget that just four years ago, when our Wildcats slogged into the playoffs to a loss at Sullivan, St. Mary's was enjoying its own Cinderella 11-3 season that didn't end until a loss to state power Webb City in the state semifinals. Head coach Corey Bethany and his army will bring the fire this Saturday.
Among the charges that come forth from the shadow of Dad's Scotch Oatmeal Cookie factory, Gus Dattoli has matured in his time at quarterback. Leading impressive offensive outputs against Borgia and Dubourg last year, Dattoli is back and will look for brothers Alex and and Jacob Fesi to get open out wide. In the backfield, bruising running back Corbin Lee returns for his senior season, and the 5'11" bowling ball is capable of running over his share of barriers. Fellow backfield mate Jordan Grant can scurry for yardage and displays speed that--while falling short of Usain Bolt--at least comes closer to Carl Lewis (#OlympicGlory) when chasing down runners on special teams. And look out for Lee on defense; he's a monster from his OLB spot.
For the Wildcats, it all comes back to the basics as we begin the Chris Pederson era: block, tackle, run, encourage. Whatever the specific play calls, look for the Cats' skill position players to put pressure on the edges of the Dragon defense to wear them down. For the defense, keying on Lee is a must. A fast start, a plus-margin in turnovers, and staying within themselves means that Westminster could very well prevent the Dragons from celebrating at the Iron Barley later in the evening (#BallisticElvis). All that being said, the curtain lifts on Saturday, and the new-look Wildcats are ready! #PrepareToRoar