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

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Wildcat Lair (2016: Vol. 12)

The character-building times continue for the 2016 version of the Westminster Wildcats. Last weekend's 33-14 loss to Metro League winner MICDS at Carnival marked several areas for improvement, but the winds of change bring positive vibes akin to the hardships facing Premier League side Swansea City AFC (#GoSwans). Just as Swansea City has experienced difficulty finishing games (#CrapLiverpoolPenaltyKick), so the Wildcats have had difficulty sustaining and finishing offensive drives. But like the Swans, changeover in personnel has arrived for the Wildcats. Across the pond, it comes in the person of Bob Bradley, the first American coach to lead a Premier League Team. For the Wildcats, it comes in the person of a more healthy Steve Webb and the return of Chad Briden at the quarterback position, a recovery more refreshing and bizarre than Rebecca Lowe's attempt at a Valley Girl accent (#CueVideo).
As Josh Pottebaum is able to get a break from 24/7/365 shepherding of the offense and defense, we channel our inner Scott VonderBruegge and ask the essential question for this week: "How does Briden expedite getting the timing down between him and his receivers?" The illustrious Dylan Conway--rumored to be the second coming of legendary receiving and return whiz Henry "Gizmo" Williams--is itching to close out his career with wins aplenty and more school receiving marks. Conway currently stands two receptions behind Ryan Blackwell's career catches mark and one TD reception behind Blackwell in that career category (#DaddyWants). Given that the opponent is Christian High of O'Fallon, and Conway's big party night last year was against the Eagles, we could see some dashes reminiscent of when Gizmo Williams himself could take some Grey Cup groceries all the way back to the house. (#MightyMite)
The Wildcat defense must be prepared for whatever Christian High throws at them, which from the stat sheets we discover begins and ends with quarterback Brady Tolle. The Eagles may be coming in at 0-7 (including a heart wrenching 28-26 loss to Duchesne last Friday), but it's not for lack of effort from their pivot. The second-leading rusher (behind JJ Simon's 355 yards), Tolle has 127 carries, which is 22 more lugs than the entire remainder of the CHS roster. Of all players, only Tolle has a rushing TD to his credit, and he has all nine on the ground. The successor to flash-and-dash D.J. Christiansen, Tolle has also completed 101 of 176 passes for 1284 yards, nine TDs and six picks. Not since Gareth Bale this summer for Wales have we seen such nonstop reliance on one player (#TheDragonRoared). The message for the Wildcat stop force is clear: Stop Tolle first, last, and always.

On offense, the Cats will go as far as Chad Briden's arm and rebuilt collarbone will take them in distributing the ball to Conway, Atlin Hall, Logan Sells, and Grant Lavalle. Steve Webb will test his shoulder against the Eagle defense, and we could see L.B. Battle get a significant amount of snaps depending on how hard the Wildcats jump on their opponents. Last year took some time before the Westminster army fired up their arsenal at full force, but once they did, they coasted to a 45-28 victory.

There is still reason to cheer vociferously, Wildcat Universe. We have much to play for in a couple of very winnable games against CHS and Borgia. Enough to tweak upwards in the district standings to snag a home game on October 22nd? Very possibly. And that would be significant reason to cheer.

But of course, we'll keep all of our loud support within the proper decibel range (#ordinance).

Game at 7 pm this Friday night at CHS-O'Fallon. Get there early. Trust do NOT want to park in the grass behind the stadium (#GoodbyeSuspensionSystem).

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