By Gene Stanley/Messenger Sports Correspondent
A couple of things have Westbrook Christian head football coach Tony Osborne smiling this preseason.
One is the depth of the Warriors’ squad – something that is a luxury to most small school coaches.
“There have been a lot of years where we had no depth at all,” Osborne said. “If we had an injury at some positions, it upset the whole balance of the team. This year, we’ll be able to handle things like that better.
“We’re not going to have any superstars, but we’ve got a lot of kids who can play.”
The other positive is the fact that Westbrook is back in a traditional eight-team region after spending the past two years in one of the hybrid nine-team regions.
The 2011 Warriors had trouble sustaining momentum, as a 1-4 start in region play eventually led to a fifth place finish in the region.
“It’s so much easier to make schedules in the normal regions,” Osborne said. “In nine-team regions, it’s hard to find opponents who have the same non-region weeks as you do. We had to go without a Week 10 game last year because of that.
“Having a good game in the last week of the season really helps if you make the playoffs.”
Making the playoffs will be tough this year, with the balance of the region.
Osborne, who is entering his 17th year at Westbrook, feels that every team in the region could contend for the playoffs and even the region title, saying that no team is head and shoulders above the rest.
“We’ll have a hard time getting in the playoffs because of that,” Osborne said. “Fyffe would have to be the favorite to win the region, because of their history. But this year, it could turn out differently. Fyffe is good, as usual, but I think some others could conceivably challenge them.”
The region lost Ohatchee and Pleasant Valley, picking up West End and Gaston. Osborne feels that makes getting into the playoffs a tougher chore.
“Whichever four get in will definitely have good game experiences to rely on,” Osborne said. “It’ll probably be one of the tougher regions in 2A, top to bottom, this year.”
Leading the Warriors’ hopes is quarterback Jonathan Ford, who will start on offense for the first time. The senior led the team in tackles at his linebacker slot last year. He started there for three seasons.
“He has a lot of ability throwing the ball,” Osborne said. “He’s also a good ru-nner, and his physicality will help a lot.”
Junior Jake Kilgo will be the main running back, with senior Seth McAdams also getting a lot of playing time.
According to Osborne, Kilgo is more of a slasher-type back, while McAdams is the power runner.
McAdams is also a good blocker, Osborne noted.
Senior Clay Templeton is the only returning wide receiver, and there are a lot of kids in the mix for the other spots.
“Clay is very versatile,” Osborne said. “He can go deep and he can run a precise short route for possession catches. Whatever we need of him, he’s capable of.”
Senior Chase Ingle is a four-year starter on the offensive line and will be joined by returning starter and senior Ethan Lake.
Ingle will also play defensive line, along with returning starter and senior Tyler Dillashaw.
The main unit that was depleted by graduation was the linebacking corps.
Ford is a returner, but Osborne said he doesn’t know how much he’ll allow his quarterback to play defense. Junior Dylan McClain wasn’t a starter last year but has a lot of experience.
Kilgo and Templeton are returners at defensive back.
Assistant coaches are Barry Ryan, Ri-chard Dobbs, Charles Brown and David Ryan.
Aug. 31 – Glencoe
Sept. 7 – @Fyffe*
Sept. 14 – Ider*
Sept. 21 – West End*
Sept. 28 – @Ohatchee
Oct. 5 – Gaston*
Oct. 12 – @Sand Rock*
Oct. 19 – @Section*
Oct. 26 – N. Sand Mtn.*
Nov. 2 – @Hokes Bluff
* Region game
Fyffe 34, Westbrook 7
Westbrook 25, Pleasant Valley 23
Ider 34, Westbrook 7
Sand Rock 14, Westbrook 3
Westbrook 41, Coosa Chr. 6
NSM 39, Westbrook 7
Westbrook 37, Victory Chr. 12
Westbrook 17, Section 0
Westbrook 31, Ohatchee 7