It was beautiful weather for the Wildcats to be back in action on Wasmer Field this weekend.
The air was thick with excitement to be back to practice after watching St. Edward take on Massillon Washington on Friday night.
Blase Mastrianni, a junior linebacker, was particularly psyched.
“After watching that game last night [St. Edward’s] it just makes me even more excited to get back out there and hopefully get a win against them this year. Our squad is looking great and I expect nothing less from the guys.”
Practice started off with warming up with the freshman team, as well. It was nice to have the whole program together to start off the long day.
Kicker Declan Manan made a big splash at practice. The big-legged veteran consistently kicked bombs out the back of the end zone on kickoff drills.
Look for lots of touch-backs from the stud seniors. His work in the offseason in the weight room is really paying off.
A new face on the varsity coaching staff, the recently promoted receivers coach Rodney Gallaway, got some good work with the receivers on Saturday.
With the injury of AJ Gottschalk, the offensive line was left up to the underclassman on Saturday. They did well amidst the circumstances.
“The underclassman really stepped up in practice and were keeping up without the guidance of the whole starting line,” Gottschalk noted.
Gus Salopek was absent early, taking the SAT on Saturday morning. Salopek brings experience to the group this season and will be a key contributor.
The 6'5, 250-pound lineman recently committed to Lafayette College. Salopek couldn't be more excited.
"Lafeyette is a great school with great academics. I hope to major in economics or chemistry," said Salopek. "Lafayette will get me where I want to be football-wise. I'm excited to get out there and play four more years.
"For this year, I want to get us on track as a unit and as a team, to win a state championship."
His offensive line coach, Paul Yappel, also is happy for his senior lineman.
"Gus can always be counted on to work hard," said Yappel. "He's definitely taken on a leadership role in the position group. He does everything right. He does everything he's asked to do."
Speaking of players to watch, look for Emmett Hanna this year in the secondary.
Coach John Pieschalski and the defensive backs got lots of hands work early on, and Hanna thrived. Hanna will be a massive force of the Wildcat secondary this year. I'm definitely excited to see more of him this year. Hanna played basketball for the Wildcats in the winter.
As for the quarterback competition, juniors Jaxon French and Joey Phaff are getting in some good work as well.
“Practice has been going well from an offensive perspective. The execution rate has been really high with very minimal mistakes," said French. "The receivers all look really good and have been crisp with all their route patterns. All in all, I think we are gonna be an up-tempo team this year who rally together to get the job done.”
French is coming off a huge offseason in the weight room, as well as on the field. French is noticeably bigger and more experienced. He's ready to be a leader for this team.
Editor's Note: Look for position previews on The Corner, starting on Tuesday.