Wilson might be young, but the Warriors are hungry to reverse what happened in 2018 in a tough region.
Last year’s Wilson team became the first in four years to miss the playoffs, going 3-6 overall and 2-4 in the region. The rebuilding Warriors fell victim to a tough region schedule, taking losses by 35+ points to Brooks, Deshler and Central.
Second-year coach Matt Poarch is ready to see what the young players do for their team.
“We know we have a young team with about seven seniors,” Poarch said earlier this summer. “We’re going to be leaning on a lot of younger players, but with that there’s more excitement, more competition on team and practices have been competitive.
“I feel like a lot of ninth-graders have competed with seniors and juniors, so it’ll be interesting come August to see who earns those spots to play.”
Wilson hired a new offensive coordinator, Jared Mills, and the Warriors are changing their offense to the split-back veer. Poarch said it will bring something new to this area and his players have embraced it.
Chris Silva will return as the starting quarterback. Poarch said having Silva behind center will provide some stability and confidence with the rest of the team running a new offensive system.
Silva said his leadership needs to be good to help this year’s Wilson team get back to the playoffs.
“We’re trying to pass down what we learned from Tucker Brown and Avery Moates’ class,” Silva said, referring to the Class of 2018. “They really showed us what it’s like to come in every day (and) do what you’re supposed to do. It’s about passing down what they taught me to the younger kids.”
Poarch hopes the new offense will open up some play-action passing for Silva and the Warriors’ offense as well.
Tanner Melton returns as a starter as one of the dual backs. Woody Watkins will be a dive back with a couple of young guys also ready to play and fill in spots when needed. Devin Willis will help at running back and also be a backup quarterback.
Mason Hanback will transition from guard to center on the offensive line. Jeremiah Vader and Avion Blaylock will start at guard on the line. Freshman Patrick Hamilton will start at a tackle, and the tight end position will be swapped between Dylan Crouch and Alex Credille.
Bailey Clemmons and Austin Holt will be out wide for the Warriors.
Melton, who started at linebacker last season, will move to the defensive line and give the Warriors some more speed without losing a lot of power. Carter Williams will also be someone to watch, but Wilson plans to use five to six guys on the defensive line to keep everyone fresh.
Crouch, Credille and Levi Arnett will return as the middle linebacker and Carson Terry will also start at an outside linebacker spot.
Holt will return as one of the cornerbacks for the Warriors. Hunter Freeman, Andrew Terry and Tyler Lenz are also competing at corner. Clemmons and Jordan Pruitt will be the safeties.
Poarch said the defensive side of the ball is where he is most nervous with the least amount of experience coming back. He said the way Wilson plays defense involves more “pre-snap thinking” than on some other teams.
“Because of that if you don’t understand what we’re doing you’ll still be thinking when the ball is snapped,” he said. “ … We’ve had a problem in the past of kind of hovering over the top of the running back, giving him too much space to move.
“I’m basically just seeing who’s going to attack when they see the play.”
• Wilson will have a ton of tests in the early part of the schedule with Sheffield, Colbert Heights, Rogers, Brooks and Deshler before October starts.
All five of those teams made the playoffs last year. Brooks, Deshler and Rogers finished first, second and fourth in the Class 4A, Region 8 standings, respectively.
• Wilson will open up on a Friday night at home against Sheffield on Aug. 23.