Jason Bleck is all-in for his first year as the Whitewater High football coach, and he wants his players to feel the same.
“I’m really big on having a team catchphrase; our motto this year is ‘all in’”, Bleck said. “That’s one of the things we’re really trying to emphasize, that we’re all in for Whitewater football right now.”
The Whippets went 2-7 last season, winning more games than the two previous seasons combined (one).
Whitewater won’t come back fully reloaded, but it also won’t necessarily lack experience. The Whippets will have six offensive returners, and seven on defense.
On offense, the Whippets’ top two running backs and top three receivers all return.
“Our skill positions is especially where we’ll have one of our strengths,” Bleck said. “We have a lot of guys who have gotten playing time already.”
Will Liebbrand and Aldo Soto both return to the Whitewater backfield as seniors to form a formidable one-two punch.
Liebbrand led the Whippets in rushing last year with 512 yards, carrying it at 6.3 yards a clip. Soto was the team leader in rushing touchdowns (5) and yards per carry (6.9) and amassed 467 yards on the ground.
“It’s two guys that are both really strong, hard and powerful runners who have good speed and agility as well,” Bleck said.
Junior Eli Kohl led the Whippets receivers last season with 272 yards and three touchdowns. Senior Cooper Pease averaged 26.4 yards per reception, and fellow senior Gehrig Monday tied for a team-high with Kohl with 20 catches.
Although Bleck noted he wants Kohl to get some snaps at wideout, the junior looks to be the front-runner to take over for Dylan Pease at quarterback.
Sophomore Brock Grosinkse will compete with Kohl for the job, but Bleck mentioned both are standout athletes and that he wants them on the field one way or the other.
While Whitewater will boast a battle-tested group of skill position players, the same can’t be said about the offensive line, where the Whippets lost all five of their starters from last season.
Bleck said he expects juniors Chase Feit, Ben Morales and Johnny Magana to be the core.
After giving up 37.4 points per game last season on defense, Bleck is hoping for a change.
“The way we play our defense is going to be totally different,” Bleck said. “We have a lot of guys shifting positions.”
Bleck listed off senior defensive back Martin Gonzalez, junior linebacker David Cushman, Leibbrand (defensive back), Pease (linebacker/defensive end) and Monday (linebacker) as returning defensive players he expects to make an impact.
“We have a lot of guys who can take on a leadership role,” Bleck said.
After an 0-9 season in 2016, a 1-8 year in 2017 and a two-win 2018, Bleck said he expects to once again see improvement.
“I really think we’ve made steps in the right direction,” Bleck said. “We’re definitely trending upward.”
Name Yr. Pos.
David Cushman Jr. RB/LB
Mason DePorter So. OL/DL
Chris Dressler So. OL/DL
Chase Feit Jr. OL/DL
Christian Fera So. TE/DE
Carter Friend So. RB/LB
Martin Gonzalez Sr. WR/DB
Brock Grosinske So. QB/DB
Jacob Heritage Jr. WR/DB
Victor Hernandez Sr. OL/DL
Denver Isbell Jr. OL/TE/LB
Eli Kohl Jr. QB/DB
Will Liebbrand Sr. RB/DB
Johnny Magana Jr. OL/DL
Justin Marinkovich So. TE/DL
Angel Flores Jr. OL/DL
Gehrig Monday Sr. WR/LB
Ben Morales Jr. OL/DL
Conner Moreno So. WR/LB
Cooper Pease Sr. TE/LB/DL
Zach Porter Sr. OL/DL
Aldo Rodriguez Sr. OL/DL
Matthew Santiago So. WR/DB
Connor Sharlow So. RB/DB
Aldo Soto Sr. RB/LB
Evaristo Soto So. RB/LB
Conner Stevenson So. OL/DL
Josh Toms So. WR/DB
Diego Tovar Jr. RB/DB