On the last play of Thursday’s walkthrough, West Ranch football’s first-year starting varsity quarterback junior Walker Eget looked upfield and unloaded a 40-yard bomb in junior wide receiver Nicholas Kohl’s direction.
Although a defender was glued to him, Kohl made the catch, which unleashed a roar from the rest of the team as practiced was called.
Eget and Kohl are just two pieces that the West Ranch offense will rely on as the Wildcats open up their 2019-20 football season against Nordhoff High School for the second year in a row at Valencia High School at 7 p.m. tonight.
“I know a lot of people have questions about the season and our goal is to answer these questions tomorrow and say that we were not a one-and-done, hot-shot team that relied on two fantastic athletes,” said West Ranch head coach Chris Varner at practice on Thursday. “I think the whole goal is to be more solid as a team and we want to showcase that tomorrow night.”
Eget takes the reins of a Wildcats offense that averaged 38.7 points per game in 12 contests and returns key seniors from last year’s history-making team.
Senior running back and last season’s second-leading rusher, Jackson Reyes, will try to establish the ground game early and experienced receiver Brandon Wyre and tight end Zach Van Bennekum will provide steady hands and precise route running.
“I think our offense is going to do very well,” Eget said. “We should dominate, at least. We are trying to prove the doubters wrong, right now. I have to really give it to my line and my receivers. They are really helping a lot right now.”
Defeating the Rangers 39-14 last season, the Wildcats have a strong idea of how to stop the second-place Citrus Coast Football League team from last season: plug the holes.
Nordhoff averaged 145 yards through the air per game and 218 yards on the ground per game, but only managed to gain 62 yards on 13 carries in last year’s contest. With their senior running back gone, the Wildcats will force the Rangers to pass.
“The same thing again, just get them in the holes,” Varner said. “I know coach Wiggins, he’s a very solid coach. I like our d-line matchup and my linebacker matchup against what he’s going to bring to the table. They have a returning quarterback from last year so they will go to a spread (offense) and that’s our bread-and-butter with what we are used to. That’s our goal, is to try to get them to pass the ball.”
Confident in this year’s retooled West Ranch team, when asked what he expects from his team tonight, Varner answered:
“Hopefully, the same thing as last year.”