Vermilion Valley Conference football preview: Westville
WESTVILLE — It’s not a stretch to say that Westville High School will field a strong football team this season.
The proof is on the weightlifting log sheets.
Two Tigers (Ryan Pinter and Nick Woods) have lifted at least 300 pounds on the bench press. They are among six squad members who gained membership in the school’s 1,000-pound club (for three lifts).
Brett Hayes, John Hoepner, Ethan Novick and Justin Parker are also used to heavy lifting and will help shoulder the burden for the Tigers, who are coming off a 10-1 season.
Hayes, Novick, Pinter and possibly Woods figure prominently in the offensive line. Hoepner would have, except he has been moved to fullback.
“We have good size and strength,” said Westville coach Guy Goodlove, who is entering his 17th year in charge of the football team.
Pinter will be the center. Hayes — who focused on defense in 2010 — and Kane Atwood are guards. Trae Ford will be a tackle with the other position going to either Novick, Woods, Tyler Dicken or Jeremy Rivers.
Parker is in the hunt at tight end — pending the results of an MRI on his knee — with Dakottah Burke, Dalton Burks, Kaleb Smith and Zach Waclaw.
“We’re trying to put the puzzle together,” Goodlove said.
While many of the linemen are varsity lettermen, many of the skill-position candidates are part of the team’s youth movement.
Of 46 squad members, 22 are sophomores.
Sophomore Kyle Brazas is the frontrunner at quarterback. He lettered a year ago as the placekicker, converting 37 extra points. Another sophomore, Jeff Thompson, is also a quarterback prospect.
“With all of our experience on the offensive line, that’s where we’re the happiest,” Goodlove said, “but I’ve been pleasantly surprised with our receivers and quarterbacks.
“What I thought would be a concern is not. We have kids who can run and catch. We have a lot of competition at wide receiver.”
Among those seeking playing time are Trent Callison and Tanner Cox — neither of whom played last year — along with Brian Cunningham, Dalton Hilligoss, Telito Karuzis, Johnny Sullivan, Dillon Turner and Thompson.
Hilligoss, Karuzis and Waclaw are looking for carries in the backfield, where junior Shane Overshiner could emerge as one of the marquee runners. From last year’s senior-laden backfield, Overshiner is the top returning rusher (180 yards).
“The potential is there to be good,” Goodlove said, “but we’re not there yet. We’ve got to get enough reps to be confident in what we’re doing. Right now, we’re an average team.”
Many of the athletes contending for playing time on offense are also among the defensive prospects.
Atwood, Parker, Rivers and Waclaw are end candidates. Nevin Barton, Dicken, Ford, Hayes, Novick and Pinter are battling at tackle.
The linebacking corps features competition between Barton, Burke, Hoepner, Karuzis and Overshiner.
In the secondary, Cunningham, Hilligoss and others from the receiving corps could get on the field. Brazas can play safety, but Goodlove said he’d prefer “to keep him on the sidelines,” on defense.
Novick will handle the punting.
Joining Goodlove on the coaching staff are Mike Acord, Larry Barney, Jim Kennedy, Alex McMahon, Paul Miller, Todd Sarnecki, Shawn Skinner and Eli Williams. Goodlove needs seven victories to reach the 100-win mark for his varsity career.
The Tigers will open the season on Aug. 26 with a 7 p.m. home game against Arcola.