Young and Speedy Wolverines Look to Build on 2019 Success
By Garrett Mitchell, Staff Writer
The 2020 Woodruff Wolverines football team wants to play fast. After months of being sidelined by the COVID-19 pandemic, you might say they are ready to make up for lost time.
The Wolverines are set to begin their 2020 campaign on the road at defending 3A state champion Chapman on Sept. 25. It will be the first game of a shortened seven game season that will be starting over a month later than normal.
Woodruff coach Bradley Adams expects the adversity of the past five months to help his young but talented squad.
“For our young men to be able to have a productive season, that reflects the hard work, time, commitment, and adversity they have overcome this offseason,” said Adams. “Our speed will be our strength because we have a smaller team that runs really well. We will have to rely heavily on our speed as our strength.”
The Wolverines are indeed fast. Woodruff returns just eight starters from a team that finished 9-4 and advanced to the third round of the play-offs in 2019, but all eight returning starters are high impact athletes.
Shamare Dendy, a 1,000-yard rusher, returns at running back and will be complemented by speedy sophomore Nemo Cochran in the backfield. At wide receiver the Wolverines bring back blazing senior Zy Scott and sure-handed tight end Jonathan Sexton. Jailen Tribble, last year’s interceptions leader as a sophomore, returns to anchor the secondary and will also line up at receiver along with Cameron Richards and junior Mathias Dial.
Talented sophomore Carson Tucker is primed to take over at quarterback and he will be protected behind an offensive line led by three-year starter Nick Robertson and Darrell Parks.
Defensively, the secondary looks to be a big strength bolstered by three returning starters in Dendy, Scott, and Tribble. Along the defensive front, Sexton returns at defensive end along with Robertson up front while newcomer Nate Kaiser looks to be a big impact at inside linebacker.
“We expect each young man to compete for every position we have on the field,” Adams said. “We expect the quarterbacks to also compete at a high level. We must continue to get better on defense and continue to improve our understanding of the importance of offensive and defensive line play.”
Woodruff will look to take the next step and claim their first region title since 2015. With region rivals Chapman and Union County suffering big losses to graduation, the window is open for the Wolverines. Success in conference play will be paramount, however, as the postseason format was altered due to the pandemic and only two teams from each region will make the play-offs instead of the usual four.
Plans are in place to safely play the season, but with uncertainly still in the air and with a fluid health situation still in play, Adams knows his team may have to make adjustments on short notice.
“The biggest challenge is just not knowing what to expect next,” added Adams.