For Westville football coach Guy Goodlove, experience will be the best thing to help the Tigers rebound from a 3-6 mark in 2012, the first losing season for the program in 10 years.
“I have over 20 seniors and most of them had varsity experience and most of them are returning. We got a lot of players that saw a lot of time for us and we hope that will pay off this season,” Goodlove said. “An old adage says ‘You win with seniors’ and we certainly have enough of them.”
The backfield will return for the Tigers with senior Kyle Brazas at quarterback and senior Dalton Hilligoss at running back. Senior wide receivers Tanner Cox and Jeffery Thompson will return as well along with Gavin Leach and Caleb Smith and on the line, Tyler Dicken and Jeremy Rivers will be the anchors.
“We have a good core of players returning this season and some seniors and juniors who are not returning starters but have some varsity experience, so they can fill some holes,” Goodlove said. “Kyle is a third year starter and Dalton has been somewhere in the backfield since he was a sophomore so they bring a lot of valuable experience to their side of the football. I look for both to be among the best players in the conference. There is not much they have never seen and it is real nice as a coach to have that.”
On defense, Goodlove says the experience will give the Tigers the potential to be special.
“Defensively, we have good team quickness. I don’t think we are real big, but we are quick and it will be exciting on the defensive side to see kids fly across the field,” Goodlove said. “I just have to make sure that we are doing a good job tackling and also gangtackling. There will be a senior starting on each position so there will be experience there.”
After a week of practices, the team is ready to go and get things going to right the wrong that was last season.
“We are going to work hard to win our games and get to the playoffs and win the Coal Bucket this year,” Hilligoss said. “Our practices have been real crisp this year. We have been coming in sharp this year while last year, we were just shuffling along and we also have some good leadership this year.”
“Last season, we were embarrassed how we let our fans and community down so we have worked hard this offseaon and we are ready to go this season,” Brazas said.
“The record wasn’t where we wanted it to be but what we can take from that is experience. They got a taste of varsity and what it is like to be in the lower half of the conference and I don’t think it sat well with them,” Goodlove said. “But it is up to them, it is my program but it is up to them. They have been very coachable and they have listened and done everything that we have told them to do and we hope they will take that and we will see some good things on Friday at Villa Grove.”
Villa Grove is coming off a 9-2 season and has lost some top players from that team, but Goodlove is not going to overlook what the Blue Devils have left.
“They have good size, strength and they are very quick,” Goodlove said. “They have four players that can flat out fly all over the field and they like to spread you out and run motions and be deceptive and you have to good job looking for the football and make sure that the cut back lanes are taken away. They lost some good athletes last season and they would like you to think the cupboard is bare, but they are far from it.
“They have some good athletes and we have to be ready on Friday night. I think their quarterback is one of the best in the area. Their tailback is a hardnosed runner and they have two slotbacks that are going to be as fast as anyone that we have seen. So it will be a good game.”
“I think (former Villa Grove running back Ryan) Pearce being gone could help us but they have some great athletes and it is not going to be a cakewalk,” Hilligoss said. “We are going to have to work hard to get this win.”
After Villa Grove on Friday, the Tigers will host Cerro Gordo/Bement on Sept. 6, and then Westville starts Vermilion Valley Conference action against Salt Fork on Sept. 13. Goodlove said that the Tigers are in the middle of what could be the best group of teams in conference history
“This conference is as deep as I have seen since the VVC was formed in football. This is as good as it gets in football,” Goodlove said. “You could put everyone’s name in a hat and draw it out and they would have just as good a chance to win as everyone else.
“Every Friday night, you have to bring it. You have to do a great job getting prepared through the week or you are going to get it handed to you. There are good athletes and good team speed in each school and we are in the mix. We can play well and win or can get beat by everyone. It depends on how we show up to play.”
Head Coach — Guy Goodlove
2012 record — 3-6
Date Opponent Time
Aug. 30 at Villa Grove 7 p.m.
Sept. 6 Cerro Gordo/Bement 7 p.m.
Sept. 13 at Salt Fork * 7 p.m.
Sept. 20 at Bismarck-Henning * 7 p.m
Sept. 27 Milford/Cissna Park * 7 p.m.
Oct. 5 St Fracis de Sales 2 p.m.
Oct. 11 at Oakwood/A-P 7 p.m.
Oct. 18 at Hoopeston Area 7 p.m.
Oct. 25 Geo-RF/Chrisman 7 p.m.
* — Vermilion Valley Conference
All times Central