The Whitewater High football program has made several first downs since it was nearly shut down two years ago because of a lack of numbers.
Jim Pease enters his second season as head coach with a goal of playing .500 ball, if not better.
“Our goal is to make the playoffs this year, so that’s roughly .500,” Pease said.
The Whippets will rely on an experienced line to propel their offense, and they hope a young defense will come around as the season progresses.
Forty-five players are out for the team, which puts the program on solid footing.
“It’s not as high as we would like it to be, but it’s better than last year,” Pease said.
Two of those players are Pease’s sons.
Senior Dylan Pease will be the Whippets’ starting quarterback. He has soaked in the benefits of growing up in a football household.
“He knows the game really well,” Coach Pease said. “He’s very smart in decision-making.”
Cooper Pease, a junior, is the backup quarterback and will play tight end on offense.
Junior Will Leibbrand is expected to be the top rushing threat. Sophomore Eli Kohl will be both a running and receiving threat, the head coach said, while junior Gehrig Monday likely will be the team’s top receiving threat.
“Our strength should be our offensive line,” Jim Pease said. “We have every starter back from last year.”
Joining the Pease brothers on offense are the Martin brothers.
Senior Hunter Martin and sophomore Jake Martin will be easy to spot. Hunter is 6-foot-8 and weighs 290 pounds. Jake is 6-11 and weighs 325 pounds. They man the tackle spots.
Senior Aiden Murray will be the starting center, while seniors Arturo Franco and Hunter Abramson—both three-year letter winners--will be at guard.
Senior Fabian Gonzalez, who got some starts last season, and Jeremy Oquendo are capable backups.
“We’re expecting good things out of them,” the head coach said about the line.
Dylan Pease has to smile about the line he will be standing behind.
“I think he likes the size of them,” Jim Pease said.
The Whippets are less experienced on defense, with only five players returning that saw game action last year.
Most of the starters on the offensive line will also see action on the defensive side of the ball.
Cooper Pease and Kohl will lead the linebacking crew, with Abrahamson also expected to contribute.
Aldo Soto can play just about any spot on defense.
Ismael Barajas and Leibbrand will be the starting cornerbacks. Junior Martin Gonzalez and senior Julio Espinoza are the candidates at safety.
The head coach likes what he sees as the Whippets prepare for their Rock Valley Conference season opener Friday at Turner.
“They’ve been working real hard and working as a team,” Jim Pease said. “They’re excited about this.”
And possibly a playoff berth.
“That’s something that hasn’t happened in Whitewater for a while,” Pease said. “That’s the kids’ goal, and ours, as well.”