Monday, August 20, 2012
The Woodland offensive and defensive lines return nearly fully intact this season.
Woodland returns all but two starters from an offense that put up some serious points during the 2011 campaign.
The Wolverines finished at 7-4 last season after dominating every team in its region except Hanahan, which won the Region 6-AA crown. This season 31 of the 42 players on Woodland’s roster are returning varsity lettermen so second-year coach Mathis Burnette is optimistic.
“We feel we should make a nice run and that this may be our year,” Burnette said. “We lost one offensive lineman and a slot receiver but the rest of our offensive starters are back. We’ve had a whole year to game plan with them and we know we have big play potential, but we do need to be a little more physical.”
Junior Patrick Sheppard returns at quarterback and presents a dual threat. Sophomore Drake Knight provides good depth at the position.
Wide receiver Chris Gaddist is another key skill player. Burnette says if he and left tackle Michael Barnett (6-4, 225) play up to their potential the Wolverines attack will be hard to stop.
Dakeem Hanton comes in as the new slot receiver. While it is not yet known if he will be able to do all the things his predecessor did, he brings better size to the position. The other new member of the offense is guard Avery Thompson (6-4, 260). What the freshman lacks in experience, he makes up for in size.
Other players listed as starters on that side of the ball are wide receiver Michael Delee, tight end Eric Carn, running back Jari Smith, center Nick Muckenfuss (5-11, 220), guard Ben Mays (6-1, 230) and tackle James Gaddist (5-11,220).
The Wolverine defense also has a lot of experience.
“I feel our defense will stand up,” Burnette said. “We don’t have the biggest group of guys, but man do they fly to the football. Plus, we can lock up man-to-man and that allows us to do a lot of good things.
The defense will be anchored by the secondary. Senior safety Rameak Smith returns to “play center field” for the unit. Senior Laquan White returns as a shutdown cornerback and linebackers Daquan Bolden and Michael Wamer also bring experience and leadership to the defense.
Others expected to contribute defensively include linebacker Ryan Kinsey, Corner Juwan Green, safety Roderick Britt, linebacker Zounce Simmons and linemen Mays, Barnett, Kyle Nettles and James Gaddist.
The Wolverines have a new kicker this season, but their punter returns. The team should be strong when it comes to kick returns considering Wamer returned seven kicks for touchdowns last season.
“We have our most experienced team ever,” Burnette said. “If we just handle our assignments, there is no reason we can’t do better than we did last year.”
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