Experience and familiarity fill the Wildcats staff and roster
After a disappointing 2-8 2018 season, the Wildcats return a majority of their starters and should be on track to break the five-win plane that has eluded them. Pendleton County Head Coach Brian Burgemeir is entering his 5th season as the Pendleton County Head Football Coach, and the coaching staff has much continuity and familiarity with one another which can go a long way in fostering strong team chemistry and discipline.
Offensive Coordinator Kyle Pettit is also in his 5th season calling plays for the Wildcats. Last season, Pendleton County ran the flexbone offense made famous by Navy and Georgia Tech. The coaching staff decided in the offseason that their player personnel didn’t matchup properly with the flexbone offense, prompting a switch in systems. This season, the Wildcats will run a pro-style offense similar to Arkansas and LSU. This offense will include many designed runs such as power, iso and toss plays. It will also include a diverse passing offense with various short and mid-range routes.
The Wildcats have an experienced person under center spearheading their attack. Senior southpaw Matt Campbell assumes his role of starting quarterback for his second season. Campbell has a strong and accurate arm when given the chance to throw. He has surprisingly elusive lateral quickness at the quarterback position for someone his size. Last season, Campbell put up pretty good passing numbers in a rushing-based offense. He threw for 1,193 yards with 14 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. If he can put up numbers similar to this, or eclipse them, the Wildcat offense should be a more potent threat. Campbell is backed up by sophomore Gary Baker. Baker’s skillset is more focused on utilizing his running ability. While he can step up in the pocket and throw, Baker has the speed and quickness to tuck the ball away and take off.
Senior running back Lyle Secrist sat out the majority of last season with a broken collarbone. He is fully recovered and even managed to put on more muscle mass in the offseason. Secrist will get the lion’s share of the carries and should be a dangerous threat to opposing defenses. Secrist has the ability to evade tackles but also run through defenders. He has good hands catching the ball out of the backfield and will be a receiving threat when needed. Sophomore Oak Fields will back up Secrist. Fields is one of the most naturally talented runners on the team and showed major flashes of talent last season. He’s a more elusive runner than Secrist and will be used to change the pace of the offense. The Wildcats offense will utilize a fullback. That role goes to junior Caleb Rogers. Rogers is tough runner with deep football experience. He can block as well as run. Look for the Wildcats to use Rogers in short yardage situations.
At wide receiver, the Wildcats will have experienced seniors Mason Hornbeck, Colton Beane and Colby Beane. Colby Beane had the highest stat totals of any returning receiver, racking up 216 yards and four touchdowns. He is the most dangerous deep threat on the team and will look to haul in long throws from Campbell. Colton Beane and Hornbeck are more-so possession receivers. They have good hands and will be used to move the chains. If the Wildcats pass more, it will give their offense another needed element of surprise. Senior Brian Ferrell will be the tight end. His blocking will be an important part of the Wildcats offensive scheme.
The Wildcats have a newer unit than they did last season. The line returns two regular starters from last season in junior Blayne Pugh and senior Patrick Wright. They will fill out the rest of their line with senior Sonny Hotaling, junior Ian King and sophomore Matt Duvall. This line will lack the experience of years past but will still have many capable players who can get the job done. The x-factor on the offensive line is Hotaling at the center position. Last season Pugh played center but the coaching staff decided to move him to the guard position. Hotaling has proved effective in practice and in the scrimmages. This line is the linchpin to the Wildcat offense.
On defense the Wildcats will be running the same 4-4 defense they did last season. Burgemeir will call the plays of defense. On the defensive line, Pugh and Wright will play tackle. Wright is a ferocious tackle and one of the leaders of this defensive unit. Ferrell and senior Jacob Bex will play defensive end. Ferrell had 39 tackles last season while Bex finished with 37. At linebacker, the Wildcats will use Secrist and Rogers on the inside. Secrist should be a force at linebacker utilizing his hands and hard-hitting ability to break down offenses. Colby Beane and Fields will start on the outside. The defensive backfield is relatively the same as last season. Hornbeck and Baker will lineup at cornerback. This is Baker’s first season starting on defense. At safety, Colton Beane will be returning to his regular position.
The Wildcats schedule is relatively the same as last year except their district realigned. Gone are Russell, West Carter and Bath County. Enter Mason County and Powell County. The Wildcats face Gallatin County, Nicholas County, Bracken County, Dayton, Mason County, Lewis County, Powell County, Fleming County, Paris and Bishop Brossart. They have a tough but favorable schedule if they can start off the year strong. Fleming County and Powell County are the Wildcats toughest opponents on the season. While I won’t make any promises, the Wildcats could be in to surprise some people due to their favorable schedule and senior talent. It’s up to the Wildcats to win these tough games and put the program back into the 3A playoff picture.