The Wildcat football team will be looking to get the season off to a good start Friday as they open the season at Polson.
The Pirates are coming off an 0-9 season in 2018 in which they gave up more than four times as many points as they scored, but with a new coach at the helm for Polson, the Wildcats are not sure what to expect Friday.
“We are usually very good at game planning, but we just don’t have any idea what we are going to see against Polson,” Head Coach Jaxon Schweikert said. “It will be interesting to see how quickly our kids can figure them out.”
Despite having new faces starting at a number of key positions this season, Schweikert has high hopes again for this year’s Wildcats squad.
“We feel like we are talented, really talented, maybe more talented in some spots than we were last year. We just don’t have a lot of experience,” he said. “We think we can end up being a similar team to last year’s, score a lot of points and have a good defense, but it is going to take time to get there.”
One of those new faces is Mason Peters, who will be taking over reins at quarterback after the graduation of Drew Morgan. Despite his lack of experience at the varsity level, Schweikert says he is excited about his new quarterback.
“He has the skills. He can run. He can throw. He’s very intelligent and he has been working at this position for a long time,” Schweikert said. “But there is nothing like having to be the guy out there on the field in a live game. There are some things you can only learn on the game field.”
The Wildcats will also be looking to fill the cleats of running back Colten McPhee, who graduated from last year’s team with a number of school records.
While Schweikert says he expects no one player will fill that role, he has a number of talented runners to keep the Wildcat offense rolling.
“We don’t have McPhee, but we have quite a few running backs that can play,” he said.
The Wildcats will take the field with 12 less practices than they had before their first game last year, thanks to the state starting practices a week later this season. With the diminished practice time and lack of experience, Schweikert says his players will have to learn quickly to succeed.
“If these guys mature quickly as the season gets going, we could have a great season. We are not very experienced, but we have some really good players,” he said. “We have never missed the playoffs since I have been here and, if these kids mature, I don’t see any reason why couldn’t end up in the final four once again. I don’t think that expectation is too high.”
The opening kickoff in Polson is set for 7 p.m. Friday.