Western Wayne's varsity football team battled Paupack and Trail in a tri-scrimmage on Saturday
Western Wayne will begin its varsity grid season staring across the line of scrimmage at a very familiar foe.
The Wildcats powered their way to a 7-3 record in the Lackawanna Football Conference last fall. That mark qualified the local lads for their first-ever berth in the District Two playoffs.
There, Coach Randy Wolff's squad hosted Lake Lehman in a wild Class 3A semifinal game. When the final whistle blew, the 'Cats had seen their season come to a heartbreaking end via a 27-26 overtime loss.
Now, nearly 10 months later, Western Wayne is poised to open up its 2018 campaign with a re-match against the Black Knights.
“The kids are pretty excited,” Coach Wolff said during a break from practice on Monday. “We haven't had to do much in the way of motivation, that's for sure. They've worked really hard during the off-season and they're ready to go.”
Opening kick-off for this non-conference contest is slated for 7 p.m. Friday night at Lake Lehman.
The 'Cats then make their home debut Aug. 31 versus North Pocono.
Any conversation about this year's Western Wayne football team must begin with its captains.
Four talented, hard-working young men have been selected by their peers for the 2018 season: Kobe Sauter, AJ Marone, Evan Coons and Dylan Walck.
All are seniors and each brings a little something special to the field.
Sauter has been a three-year starter at tailback who also plays a key role on defense. Last fall, Sauter rushed for a team-best 852 yards and eight TDs.
“He's a good leader,” said Coach Wolff. “Kobe has been a consistent presence on both sides of the ball for us since his freshman year. I'm expecting big things from him as a senior.”
Marone is also slated to start both ways. He'll line up at middle backer on defense and at guard on offense. AJ provides an imposing physical presence for Western Wayne on both sides of the ball.
“He's a great kid,” Coach Wolff said. “AJ is a terrific leader. He makes all our defensive calls and gives 100 percent every single play he's out there.”
Coons is yet another 'Cat expected to start both ways this fall. Evan will play guard on offense and nose tackle defensively.
“One of the things I like best about Evan is that he has a tremendous work ethic,” Coach Wolff said. “He's been a staple on the offensive line and now he's coming into his own on the defensive line, too.”
Walck is among the most versatile players in the LFC. Last year, he rushed for nearly 200 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He also caught 18 passes for 351 yards and three scores.
And, if than wasn't enough, Walck stepped in at quarterback as well, completing 67 percent of his attempts.
“Dylan is one of the most explosive players in the area,” said Coach Wolff. “He's a threat to make a big play every single time he touches the ball.”
On the Field
Western Wayne kicked-off its pre-season with a tri-scrimmage at Wallenpaupack Area.
The Wildcats faced off with Lackawanna Trail and the host Buckhorns Saturday morning on the shores of The Big Lake.
“Overall, I liked what I saw,” Coach Wolff said. “We came away with a ton of positives. There were mistakes, too, but nothing we can't correct heading in to Friday night.”
A total of 16 seniors suited up for Saturday's action, making this one of the most veteran Wildcat squads in recent memory.
“As a group, they're working hard and giving us solid leadership,” Coach Wolff said. “They're great kids. They have stepped up and accepted every challenge we've given them so far.”
Coming off this weekend's action at Paupack, the 'Cats appear primed to exact a bit of revenge at the expense of Lake Lehman.
“That's a good team and a good program,” said Coach Wolff. “We have to go there and play on the black turf and that's not the easiest thing in the world. But, the kids are pumped up and I think they'll be ready.”
The Black Knights lost to Scranton Prep in last year's Class 3A title tilt. Coach Jerry Gilsky's squad closed out the 2017 campaign with an overall record of 7-5.