At the intersection of writing and life with the author of the Cameron Ballack mysteries

Friday, September 9, 2016

The Wildcat Lair (2016: Volume 8)

With the MSHSAA regular season one-third in the books, the conference races start to go from warm-up to rising heat (#FrogInTheKettle). That image in mind, it's most appropriate to look ahead to this weekend's wrangle at the corner of Clayton and Price Roads as Westminster visits John Burroughs in a rematch of last year's Metro League championship-deciding clash won by the Wildcats, 27-14. (#GloryRoad)

The sting of that one loss drove the determined Bombers all the way to the Class 3 state championship, with the Oct. 3rd shocker being their only defeat of last season. But they have already matched that total this year with their opening-weekend loss to equally stunning St. Dominic. Returning from that loaded team is the Nuclear Payload himself, Jake Bain. With the name that should be familiar to Westminster fans, Bain has totaled 410 rushing yards and 7 TDs this year. Still dangerous to strike from anywhere in the backfield or on special teams, it is noteworthy that Bain's yards-per carry total is down this year from 9-plus to "only" 5.9. (#ThatsNoDowngrade) Nonetheless, the Wildcat stop forces will need to contain JB of JB to keep the Bombers from more advantageous down-and-distance possibilities. (#DaddyWants)

Passing has been an area of improvement, as Tyler Foote, who shone last year during the title run, is even better this season, completing over 55% of his passes for 642 yards, 4 TDs and no picks. It could be argued that the determined Wildcat secondary could pose a stiff threat to Foote and his posse of receivers. Ronald Smith has graduated, but Suleman Burrows (#PhoneticMatch) complements his kicking prowess with an uncanny knack for finding the ball out of the air, as his nine receptions for 280 yards have given him a 31.1 yard per catch average, electrifying Bomber fans like CM Punk thunder- bolting Chicago (#StraightEdgeChampion).
On defense, John Merritt's boys are hungry and disciplined as usual, and they don't get caught napping often. Look for Harris Malik to come hard and fast from his linebacker position and add to his 28 team-leading tackles.

The Wildcat defense knows they have to key both Bain and Foote, but Cooper Moore is capable of rallying the troops as the defense has improved since week 1. The secondary matchups with Burrows will be critical, and the Cats realize that they have to eliminate the big plays they gave up against Lutheran North lest we be stung with something the likes of the Miracle at Michigan (#GiveKordellStewartSomeLove). 
The offense will go as far as the offensive line will protect and open holes. To that end, quarterback Josh Pottebaum will seek to build on his 216 yards against Lutheran North, many of which ended up in the hands of Dylan Conway, who is closing in on several career receiving records (#TheLittleEngineThatWill). Steve Webb will look to get back on track and re-capture the form he flashed against St. Mary's on opening day. But again, it comes down to the advances of the line. And on a day that should feature some gorgeous weather, the elements should stay clear of affecting their movement.

We're getting there, Wildcat Universe. Brick by brick. It's time to make Burroughs part of that wall at fourteen hundred hours on Saturday.

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