THE SPRING practice rounds continue, and I had a chance to check out the Lexington Wildcats earlier this week.
This offseason, the theme for second-year coach and athletics director Josh Stepp is “HARD WORK.”
“This has been what we’ve been working towards since I got here: working hard at everything we do,” Stepp said. “We may not be the biggest team in every game and we may not be the fastest team in every game, but I can guarantee you that we will be the hardest playing team in every game. Any time we line up, whether it is at practice, in the weight room, or in the game we play hard – these kids play hard.”
The Wildcats will need to play hard to top last year’s performance, tying for the Region 5 crown in Class 4A. They played a lot of inexperienced seniors last year, and will field a young roster this season.
“We’ll be playing a bunch of sophomores,” Stepp said, “but kids I think can get the job done. These guys’ work ethic is second to none.”
The Wildcats’ leadership will come on the offensive line from senior tackle William Ronan (6-foot-5, 245 pounds). Center Austin Leaphart (6-2, 240) also returns to anchor the front.
At the skill positions, Slade Carroll returns at running back and receiver DaiQuan Wells also could see touches in the backfield. The receiver corps is solid with rising junior Jayson Hopper leading the group, along with Dalton Abrams and Tyler Schadewald, a 6-4 receiver that could cause matchup problems.
The quarterback position is up in the air. Rising senior James Ricker has the reigns at the moment in a three-man race.
Defensively, the front is anchored by rising senior nose guard Riley Moon, but the Wildcats will need to fill other spots along the front. Trey Mitchell returns at linebacker and is a ball hound.
The secondary is solid with two of the top defensive backs in the region. Safety Jordan Carr returns and is a head-hunting, physical player. Rising junior cornerback Nick Graves returns and is a solid defender with the athleticism of a cornerback and the body of a safety. Graves is one of the more underrated players in the state.