Woodstock began its journey to get back to the postseason last week when it opened spring practice.
Coach Brent Budde said the defense has been ahead of the offense initially, but he has already seen encouraging signs on both sides of the ball.
“I think, defensively, we have a lot of pieces coming back,” Budde said. “They’ve definitely been flying around. Offensively, we have some weapons, especially at receiver. We just need to get some continuity between them and the quarterbacks.”
On defense, the Wolverines return the bulk of last year’s starters on a unit that was the team’s strength. David Daniel, who has picked up more than 20 college offers, is back to lead the secondary with fellow returners Andrew Bartolero, Camden Vaughn and Jarae Foster.
Willie Greer, Colby Cox and Brett Stefan are all back to anchor the front seven.
“We bring back a lot of normal leaders from last year,” Budde said. “These are guys who had a lot of experience stepping up when we needed them, and I think it’s showing early on.”
On offense, Woodstock is rotating four different players into the quarterback position.
Robbie Roper, Shane Zachos and Walker Ormsby all got some experience at the position last year after starter Dean Braxton went down with an injury, but Budde said the player who wins that position will be the one with the best command of the offense.
“In the spread offense, there’s a lot of options you give that quarterback,” Budde said. “Decision-making is huge. He has to be able to make those reads and get the ball to the right person. That’s critical. They have to know the coverage and where to go. Then it comes down to execution, throwing catchable balls and extending the play.”
Having that experience should help with a group of skill-position players who should also improve with another year in the system. Despite none playing a full 10 games last year, the Wolverines are returning four of their top five receivers, and that experience has paid off in camp.
“I think we’ve had a good offseason trying to teach the guys some stuff,” Budde said. “Now, they understand it a little better because, last year, they got a chance to be in there and get some game reps. I think you’ll see that. We’re putting them in a lot of game situations and matching up best-on-best as much as we can.”
Sebastian Moss and Brooks Bortle have stepped up into the slot receiver role, while Wes Bruno and D.J. Bynum have emerged as weapons on the outside.
Budde said the goal this spring is to get the receivers on the same page with whoever takes over at quarterback before the spring game May 17 against Sequoyah.
“We’re just trying to get everything settled,” Budde said. “We have a lot of talent and athleticism with that group. We just want to get our execution better and find ways to use that.”