Football is back. Well, exhibition season at least.
West Ranch hosted Paraclete Friday night in the team’s only exhibition game before the season begins on Friday, Aug. 17.
The scrimmage gave the Wildcats the opportunity to go up against a very good team in the Spirits, who won the Division 5 CIF-Southern Section Championship last year.
“It was really great to go against another team and they are a heck of a team,” West Ranch head coach Chris Varner said. “We’re at that point, we’re just getting tired of going against ourselves.”
“It was definitely good to see a new look against a really good team,” added senior quarterback Weston Eget. “It was cool to come out and see a good team like that, changing it up against our own defense everyday in practice.”
The exhibition scrimmage wasn’t played like a normal game, as each team took turns taking 12 snaps on offense and 12 snaps on defense. After three rounds of this routine, each team had the opportunity to play two offensive and defensive drives.
There was no official scoreboard, but the West Ranch players were definitely pumped up when junior running back Jackson Reyes scored the first touchdown of the day for the Wildcats.
“It felt really good to finally get out here and get in a rhythm,” Reyes said. “It felt great to run in the endzone like that.”
The Wildcats kept pace with the Spirits for most of the evening, but they did have a couple of defensive breakdowns that resulted in touchdowns for the opposition.
Still, West Ranch played with confidence and never looked intimidated, going full speed ahead against a bigger and stronger team.
“I liked that our guys weren’t scared. They didn’t back down,” Varner said. “They had a considerable size advantage on us. We were mispositioned a couple of times, couple routes run wrong, but the positive side is all these things we can work on and fix.”
The Wildcats rushing attack looked versatile and fluid, with Reyes, junior Reiger Burgin and seniors Ryan Camacho and Nico Lindgren all taking snaps in the backfield.
Burgin hit the hole with power, often taking defenders head-on. Camacho showed his versatility by rushing through the gaps as well as on the outside. Lindgren was able to break tackles and pick up yards after initial contact, and Reyes had one run that went for 80-plus yards.
“Great job by the running back corps and the receiver corps,” Eget said. “Running backs, shout out to them, they did a heck of a job today. And that 80-yard run by Reyes, that was something.”
Eget, donning a red jersey that made him off-limits for the opposition, was able to showcase his arm strength and versatility.
While the possibility of Division 1 football is in his future, the quarterback is laser-focused on the season ahead.
“I want to make history in our West Ranch books,” Eget said. “I want to win our first playoff game, be the best West Ranch team in history. That’s my main goal.”
The Wildcats will look to achieve that goal by starting the season off on the right foot when they take on Nordhoff on Aug. 17 at 7:00 p.m.