Two local GISA teams open up their seasons Friday with defending GISA Class AAA champion Westfield going to Southland and Windsor hosting Bethlehem Christian.
“We are excited to get things going, but in all honesty, I wish we had that extra week to get ready,” said Westfield head coach Ronnie Jones, whose team lost everyone except guard Dustin Doyle and tight end Gavin Edmondson on the offensive line. “I remember it wasn’t too long ago that we didn’t start playing games until after Labor Day, and that always gave you time to have your team ready.
“But now there are just so many things we have to get done in a more timely manner. We feel like we have some experience coming back, especially with our skill players, and we are excited about the season.”
Westfield will rely heavily on a trio of seniors on offense. Senior quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick is a three-year starter and wide receiver Giles Amos is a four-year starter and constant big-play threat, while running back Josh Jenkins returns for his senior year.
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The defense is anchored by 280-pound defensive tackle John Walker Moore, linebacker Matthew Moore and cornerback Reagan Waller.
“Our offensive line is not really young, but they are inexperienced,” Jones said. “We are still trying to get ready for the season, and one thing that we all know is that because we have had success the last couple of years, we will get everyone’s best game.”
Meanwhile, Windsor and head coach Jimmy Watts open with a team that the Knights led 34-0 en route to a 66-32 win a year ago.
“Our kids won’t have any problems staying focused for this game because we have a lot of new kids on the team, plus we are all very disappointed the way the season ended last year,” said Watts, whose team won five games a year ago after going winless the season before. “Everyone at school is excited about the football season, and we are able to feed off the success the baseball and basketball teams have had.
“Five wins last year is an improvement, but it is nowhere close to what we want to do as a football team.”
Watts saw Bethlehem Christian play a scrimmage game and saw an improved team.
“They have a 6-7 quarterback and some talented receivers, so it will be important for our defense to pressure him,” Watts said. “Last year, we had three pick-sixes in the game, but we expect a much better challenge from them this year.”
Windsor will count on four-year starter Josh Brooks, who had 1,200 yards rushing a year ago, and quarterback Jonathan Osborn, a converted fullback to lead the way at quarterback. The defense will be led by mammoth 320-pound lineman Tavis Malakius.