Photos by Mike Mao. Pictured last season against Norwood, Jake Pfaff (3) enters his second season as Westwood’s starting quarterback and will serve as one of five senior captains for the Wolverines.
By Mike Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
Despite what may have been a bit of a rebuilding year in 2018, Westwood High football still earned itself a spot in the Division IV South playoffs with a 3-4 regular season record. The Wolverines nearly took out No. 2 Milton in the quarterfinals, dropping a heartbreaker, 20-16.
This season, the Wolverines return to the gridiron more experienced as they attempt to take the next step forward and win some playoff games. Leading Westwood will be five senior captains in wideout/safety Dylan Mahoney, quarterback Jake Pfaff, running back/defensive back Colin Fay, offensive and defensive lineman Alex Tsolias and senior wideout/defensive end Kevin McDonald.
“The goal is always to win the TVL,” said Pfaff on his team’s general outlook on the season ahead. “But in general, I think we just need to get better every day. I know that’s a cliche, but it really does lead to winning when you come with that energy and intensity to get better every day.”
One key strength of Westwood this season will be speed, and lots of it. The returning running back, Mark James, Jr., should give Westwood’s offense much-needed versatility, while Mahoney and Fay also supply speed with heavy dosages of grit and power.
“We definitely have a bunch of returning talent and a lot of guys who can go make plays,” said Pfaff on the weapons he will hope to utilize out of the backfield and out wide as Westwood’s play caller. “It’s just about knowing those situations and making the plays that need to be made and I think we definitely have the group to do it this season.”
Unfortunately, not everything is going to be easy for Westwood. Along with replacing departed pillars of their offensive line in Declan Burke, Miles Heespelink and Noah Heespelink, the Wolverines will also need to overcome the loss of Kevin McDonald, who will miss the season due to a torn ACL.
“Not having Kevin [McDonald] is a huge loss for us on both sides,” said Pfaff. “[Declan] Burke and both Heespelinks were definitely huge players on our offensive line last year, who consistently gave me time and supplied the running backs holes to run through. But we’ve also got guys like Alex Tsolias, Liam Dullea and Nahom Haile returning, along with a ton of young talent and depth that will be able to step up and help us run the offense well this year.”
Defensively, Pfaff and his teammates are optimistic as they look to take advantage of the speed present in their secondary, along with the toughness they pose on the front seven with Rowan Curtain serving as the unit’s anchor.
“I think we’ll be very good defensively this year,” said Pfaff. “Coach Wilcon is a defensive genius who always puts our guys in the best spots to be successful and we’ve got some dudes, like Rowan Curtain at middle linebacker and Dylan Mahoney and Mark James, Jr. at defensive back, who will definitely make some plays for us.”
Westwood will kick off its season at home against Ashland on September 6.
For funny and insightful sports analysis, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter @fLAno0.