High School Football Preview: Improved, but never satisfied

By Chase Sewell/State Journal Sports Writer Published:

After managing only four wins in his first two seasons as head coach at Western Hills, Don Miller and the Wolverines made the leap to 6-5 last season and are looking to continue their rise this season. 

But they will have to do so minus a few important players. 

In the spring, receiver/defensive back Darius Reed, lineman Jacob Rocke and tight end/linebacker Josh Bell all graduated, leaving big shoes to fill. 

Rocke was a force at the line of scrimmage on both offense and defense. With seniors Justin Perry and Cody Hecker, Miller is confident they can fill his spot on defense, but at offensive guard, he is still unsure. 

“We are still figuring out the guard position at this point,” Miller said. “We’re still rotating some guys through with Kyle Hamons and Darrell Lewis and Ken Holbrook. We’re trying to see which one is going to give us the best chemistry.”

As for Reed and Bell, both were keys to WHHS’ newly installed offense last season. Both ran the ball and made catches that were integral to the success of the team. 

“Right now, we have Chris Pugh who is filling in at Darius’ spot and getting quite a few reps,” Miller said. “Bobby Clay is backing that up also. We have Jacob Sharp at the other slot receiver running the ball too.”

Pugh will also be filling in for Reed at defensive back. Pugh was second on the team with three interceptions last season. Reed led the team with five. 

Bell’s role at linebacker will be missed according to Miller. Bell led the team in tackles and fumble recoveries last season and had two interceptions. 

“We have a good linebacker corps,” Miller said. “They have to mesh a little bit better with each other. But Bell…when you get 122 tackles, it’s obvious you have a real nose for the ball. We have to find somebody to fill that spot.”

Junior Arie Slone looks to make up for the loss of Bell at linebacker. 

“Arie Slone, he is more or less the one who is putting everybody in their places and calls the defenses,” Miller said. “He has a good feel for seeing the formations and understanding (them) and putting people in the right places.”

There have been other changes on the defensive side of the ball besides replacing graduated players. Miller said that senior Dylan Curry will move to strong safety from defensive end last season and senior Andrew Hewitt will also see playing time at the safety position. Junior Quentin Martin will also move from a backup role at linebacker to starting this season. 

On offense, two key players are still around and looking to put up big numbers this season: Justin Wright and Dylan Curry.

Wright, a 6-foot, 200-pound senior, will again play a pivotal role in the WHHS running game this season. Wright ran for 611 yards in 2008 and scored seven touchdowns to lead the Wolverines in both categories. 

Curry, 6-foot-6 senior quarterback, will lead the WHHS offense again this season.

“When Dylan was a sophomore, he was young and wasn’t making the right choices,” Miller said. “He really improved in his junior year and I expect even bigger things from him this year.”

Curry verbally committed to play football at the University of Louisville earlier this summer. Curry threw for 1,562 yards in 2008 and connected for 10 touchdowns. He also ran for 99 yards and three touchdowns. 

“With the success we had, we’re going to stay with what we’re doing and go from there,” Miller said about his offense. “We’ll just game plan each week on what’s going to fit us best. Obviously we want to be as close to a 50-50 type team as we can be and keep the defense on their heels.”

The Wolverines only managed a 1-2 record in district play last season. Miller is hoping that this year things will be a little better. 

“You couldn’t ask for a more evenly matched district with North Oldham, Spencer and Henry (counties),” Miller said. “For the most part, North Oldham is the top dog right now, and they are pretty solid. They have a lot returning. They were very physical up front. That will be one of the big ones and our last (district) game.

“The thing I feel like we have in our favor is that we have two of the (district) games at home, with Spencer and North Oldham,” he added. “But we’ll be going up to Henry County this year.”

A change for this year is that district games have shifted to later in the season at Weeks 7,8 and 9. This put the Wolverines into an interesting spot with three straight district matchups and then senior night against cross-town rival Franklin County as the last game of the season. 

WHHS will play Frankfort High in Week 3, Sept. 11 at home. 

The Wolverines open their season in Week 2, Aug. 29, against Woodford County at Lexington Catholic in the Bluegrass Bowl. 

“It’s time to see where our program is and what direction we’re going in,” Miller said. “I think this is a good opportunity. Woodford County is a very good program. Chris Tracy has done a great job over there and really has turned that program around. You’re looking at a big, 5A team and we’re just a 3A team. We’re going to have to bring our ‘A’ game and be in the game all the way up until the fourth quarter.”

The Wolverines’ home opener comes in Week 4 against Frankfort after traveling to Washington County on Sept. 4. 

 

 

Western Hills Schedule

All games begin at 7:30 p.m. unless otherwise specified

Aug. 21 Open

Aug. 29 vs. Woodford Co., Bluegrass Bowl at Lexington Catholic, 5:30 p.m. 

Sept. 4 at Washington Co.

Sept. 11 Frankfort

Sept. 18 Grant Co.

Sept. 25 at East Jessamine

Oct. 2 at West Jessamine

Oct. 9 Spencer Co.

Oct. 16 at Henry Co.

Oct. 23 North Oldham

Oct. 30 Franklin Co.

 

 

 

Western Hills Roster

No. Name Grade Position

1 Chris Pugh 11 RB/DB

2 Austin Smith 10 WR/DB

3 Hunter Branham 9 WR/DB

4 Taylor Glover 9 RB/DB

5 Dakota Miley 9 RB/DB

6 Bobby Clay 11 RB/DB

7 Arie Slone 11 WR/LB

8 Andrew Hewitt 12 WR/DB

10 Matt Hecker 10 WR/DB

11 Dylan Curry 12 QB/DB

13 Ethan Cox 9 WR/DB

14 Casey McLean 9 QB/DB

20 Jacob Sharp 11 WR/DB

21 Anthony Gibson 10 RB/LB

22 Adam Al-dbhany 10 RB/LB

23 Isiah Walker 12 RB/DB

24 Isiah Martin 9 WR/DB

25 Cody Hecker 12 TE/DE

26 Eric Coubert 10 WR/DB

30 Bobby Ferguson 9 WR/DB

32 Quentin Martin 11 RB/LB

33 Joshua Slone 10 WR/DB

34 Nick Cutter 10 RB/LB

35 Devon Rowland 10 WR/DB

40 Justin Wright 12 RB/LB

43 Mason Nickolson 9 WR/DB

45 Daniel Noble 11 RB/DE

50 Trey Drury 9 OL/DL

52 Ed Cunningham 11 OL/DL

55 Justin Perry 12 OL/DE

56 Ken Holbrook 11 OL/DL

57 Derrick Rogers 9 OL/DL

60 Kyle Hamons 11 OL/DE

62 Alex Evans 12 OL/DE

66 Christian Wilkins 10 OL/DL

68 Brian Lenox 12 OL/DL

70 Darrell Lewis 11 OL/DL

72 Bubba Weber 12 OL/DL

73 Jacob Johnson 10 OL/DL

74 William Riddle 12 OL/DL

75 Thomas Younger 9 OL/DL

78 Gabe Loman 10 OL/DL

79 Josh Harper 10 OL/DL

80 Logan Curry 10 TE/DE

81 Austin White 9 WR/DB

83 Tanner Smith 9 WR/DB

84 Zach Hart 9 WR/LB

85 Dylan Hanvey 11 WR/DE

86 Jake Newton 10 WR/DB

88 Dylan Hullette 9 WR/DL

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