By Frank Vajcner
After Whiteford’s season ended with a thud in a playoff loss to Reading, it appeared the Bobcats were in for a significant rebuild, given the heavy graduation losses. Can the overhauled Bobcats keep on truckin’?
Head Coach: Jason Mensing (109-63, 17th year overall; 71-14, 8th year at Whiteford)
Assistants: Todd Thieken, Kris Hoag, Tony DuPree, Bob Ondrovick,
Offense: The Bobcats’ explosive double wing offense was gutted by graduation, meaning new faces almost everywhere. At QB, freshman Shea Ruddy takes over, and becomes the first Bobcat starting QB without the Eitniear name since 2014. Ruddy’s supporting cast will be mostly new, as senior RB Devon Shaw is the lone returning skill player who saw significant playing time. Sophomore RBs Cole Giesege and Levi Hilliard will join Shaw in filling the shoes of all-time leading rusher Logan Murphy, who is now playing for Siena Heights. At TE, senior Braedon Mills and junior Luke Masserant will be the go-to options.
The offensive line will look very different, but senior guard Brodi Tesznar, junior tackle Josh Hagan, and sophomore tackle Noah Bauman all bring experience. The Andrews brothers, senior guard Luke and sophomore center Jack, will be players to watch.
Defense: Despite losing a lot of talent from a unit that allowed a paltry 9.8 points per game, Bobcat players believe that this will be the strength of the team. There is experience returning in Hagan at DT, Tesznar at OLB, and Mills at CB. Senior Nick Marchant will look to make an impact at SS, while Shaw takes over at MLB. Both Andrews brothers, Luke at DE, and Jack at OLB, will also be counted on.
Coach’s Outlook: We expect the TCC to be excellent this year, Summerfield coming off their state championship in baseball has a lot of momentum, Madison, Sand Creek, and Clinton were all improved last year and return many of their top players. Britton Deerfield program is building in numbers and enthusiasm and I predict them to make the next step.
FNV Outlook: Will it be rebuild or reload for the Cats? We should have a clear answer after the non-conference slate, which opens with a trip to Division 6 sleeper Blissfield, and concludes with a visit from perennial playoff qualifier Schoolcraft. Trips to Morenci and Clinton are the only road games in TCC play. Making the playoffs for an 8th straight season will be tough, but not impossible.
Frank’s Prediction: 6-3
Gary’s Pick: 7-2
Chris’ Pick: 7-2