The Wolverines fell last Friday to the Loyola Cubs 48-6 after beating them in last year’s season opener. It took the Wolverines 42 minutes to get on the scoreboard, when Garrett Robinson ’15 punched in a touchdown run from the three yard line. The team went into halftime down 41-0.
Costly penalties and sloppy turnovers were the story of the first half for the offense. Ryan Dominick ’17 started at quarterback for the Wolverines as Marshal Cohen ’16 remained sidelined from an ACL tear he suffered in a game against St. Paul last season. The team failed to complete a pass during the game and Dominick threw multiple picks. Cohen is expected to return before league competition begins.
Coming off of a grueling offseason complete with two-a-days, lifting, and hell week, the football team will aim to take a step in the right direction and make the playoffs for the second time under Head Coach Scot Ruggles.
Ruggles guided the Wolverines to the playoffs in 2012, his first season as head coach, but failed to earn a postseason berth last season. Last season, the Wolverines started with a perfect 4-0 record, but were unable to win for the rest of the season, losing every league game and ending with a 4-6 record.
The team will be competing in the newly formed Angelus League this season, and won’t have to play perennial powers Serra or Chaminade.
Linebackers Albert Choi ’15 and Desmond Butler ’15, running back Robinson, safety Hassan Smith ’15, and quarterback Cohen were chosen as team captains and will try to put last year’s disappointing league campaign in the rearview mirror.
“I’m very confident in our team’s prospects for this upcoming season,” Butler said. “If we play hard and smart we will have a chance to win every game.”
Robinson echoes Butler’s confidence, and feels a responsibility as captain to help the team realize its full potential.
“Being a team captain is a great honor,” Robinson said. “To me, I just think it means leading by example and going 100 percent on every play. I’ve definitely learned some things about being a leader along the way, like being more vocal and bringing guys up when they’re down and giving them props when they do something amazing.”
In mid-August the team completed hell week, an intense week of practice devoted to building mental toughness and mimicking game situations. The players lived in Hamilton Gym for the entirety of hell week.
“Hell week went very well overall,” Butler said. “We started off slow but really picked up our intensity later in the week. It was a great lesson on how to focus and finish strong.”
Hell week was also oriented toward team bonding, as players took part in a bowling night, watched movies together, and even staged video game tournaments.
A typical day during hell week included early morning conditioning, multiple film sessions, two practices, and a lifting session. Players spent their lifting and conditioning sessions with Head of Strength and Conditioning Greg Bishop.
“I feel that everyone has made strides in gaining strength in the weight room during the summer,” Butler said. “We work hard every day and Coach Bishop does a tremendous job preparing us. Our efforts in the weight room will definitely play a big role in our success this season.”
Robinson said Ruggles will continue to employ a no huddle, fast paced offense, predicated on scoring as many points in as little time possible.
“Our offensive identity for this year will be to score first, score fast, and score frequently,” Robinson said. “We’re running the no huddle offense again this year, and we’ve got the tempo down pretty well.”
Robinson believes the offense has all the pieces needed to be a force to be reckoned with in the Angelus League.
“We have a great receiving core for our pass and screen game,” Robinson said. “We have some power and speed in the backfield, with a couple talented quarterbacks and a powerful running back rotation. And of course, our line is the center of it all, protecting us and making sure we can get the ball in the end zone as quickly as possible.”
A possible area of concern for the team is the offensive line, losing three of five starters from last season. The relatively inexperienced group is undersized, averaging just 210 pounds across the line. Despite being inexperienced and undersized, other players on the team are confident that they can get the job done.
“As a team we really have no glaring weaknesses,” cornerback Cole Fletcher ’15 said. “The offensive line may not be huge, but they should still be able to be successful with proper technique and good effort.”
The defensive side of the ball returns nine starters and will use a 3-4 base defense.
“We’re never going to be the biggest defensive unit, but we will always be the best prepared in terms of game plan and schemes,” defensive end Jeremy Tepper ’15 said. “If each man on defense does his job, it’s going to be very hard to score points on us.”
The team has a much needed bye-week before facing Granada Hills Sept. 12. The Wolverines will host Taft Sept. 19 for the team’s home opener. The league opener will be a home game Oct. 10 against St. Francis.