ATHENA — Fifty strong and with five key seniors, the Weston-McEwen TigerScot football team marches into 2013 with a tough preseason schedule against football powerhouses Nyssa and Waitsburg-Prescott.
Those five key seniors — Bobby McAllister, Kolten Youncs, TJ Simpson, Lance Thacker and Justin Burke — lead a TigerScot squad that graduated 12 seniors last year, many of them key cogs in both the offense and defense.
The TigerScots do return two experienced offensive and defensive linemen in Burke and junior Jason Bushman.
Bushman has been playing football since the third grade and thinks of all 50 of the TigerScots as his friends. He believes the team can make the state playoffs this season.
Other positions that already may be staffed with upperclassmen are running backs, quarterback and wide receivers.
Head coach Kenzie Hansell expects that there will be a quarterback competition between sophomore Lake Albert and junior Erick Washburn.
Albert is a transfer student, and Washburn started several games for the TigerScots at QB last season.
“Erick Washburn has had a great camp,” Hansell said. “He competes well and he is a hard worker. He gets better every single day.”
“I’m looking forward to the season,” Washburn said. “We have good team chemistry and a lot of good athletes this year. We are all pretty young. We don’t have many upperclassmen. We are looking forward to making the state playoffs this year and making a run at a state championship next year.”
Thacker will play both receiver and running back on offense.
“It is my senior year, I’ve got to get out there and do well while having fun with my friends,” Thacker said.
Bobby McAllister is one of the “five or six backs that will see time on the field,” Hansell said.
The core of the running back group will include Braden Sprenger, Reeve Betts and Tucker Osborne.
“We will move quite a lot of running backs in and out,” McAllister said. “We have a lot of good athletes out there that are willing to work and put in the time in practice every day.”
Bobby’s brother ,Linton McAllister, will play wide receiver and defensive back.
Washburn is a safety on defense.
Hansell believes there is an open competition for most, if not all, positions.
“It is truly a joy of coaching when every single player wants to be on the field,” he said. “And they don’t care where or when, they just want to play. So far ,we are anticipating rotating 50 kids in and out. So far, everybody will play varsity and all of them always suit up for Friday nights. But we do have two squads, with varsity and jayvee schedules.”
Hansell plans to man the field with a lot of “mature and smart players,” and believes depth is a bonus that his coaching staff of eight has the luxury of using on the field.
Another tough league schedule awaits W-M this year, with three road games and four home games on the slate. The TigerScots open at home against Nyssa at 7 p.m. Friday.
“One thing that is special about our league is how competitive it is,” Hansell said. “That will never change! With all that the teams that compete – night in and night out – it is going to be difficult. It is going to be the team that shows up and makes the fewest mistakes that is probably going to be the team that comes out on top. Hopefully, that is us.”
The goal of the TigerScots is to make the state playoffs, a feat in which they’ve accomplished two out of the last three years.
“We will use our remaining practice time and preseason games to move guys around and fuel the competition at every position to determine where everyone will see the most time,” Hansell said.