The influx of a large and talented freshman class has head coach Josh Nichols excited about what his Wildcat team can accomplish in 2005.
After back-to-back three-win seasons, Trigg County was 5-7-2 last year.
The Wildcats have six returning starters from that team, including leading scorer Nick Woodruff, who scored 18 of Trigg County’s 26 goals during his junior season.
Nichols said Woodruff would return at forward and would be paired with freshman Trevor Harper up front.
“We know what Nick can give us on offense. We need Trevor to play the same role Bradley (Darnall) did last year,” Nichols said.
The graduated Darnall did a good job of feeding Woodruff in the open field but was also able to create his own shots when defenses keyed on Woodruff.
“Trevor has some good attacking moves but being small hurts him,” Nichols said of Harper, who was the junior varsity MVP last year.
Harper is one of nine freshmen on the varsity roster and one of four expected to be in the starting lineup when the season starts.
“We have more depth and a big freshman class of nine players. Most of them will help us right off the bat. They are young but talented,” Nichols said. “We’ve been waiting for this freshman class to get here for a while. They have some skills and have played together for a long time.”
As a result of the new players, Nichols said nearly every position is up for grabs this year.
“Last year, we had a few positions where we had starters by default. This year, we have people competing for every position, which will make us better,” he said.
Sophomore Nate York, a transfer from Fort Campbell, will also see some time at forward and at midfield, where the Wildcats will mix youth and experience.
Junior Cole Davis returns to midfield where he will be joined by freshmen Samuel Reed and Roman Cail.
Senior Brent Wietting moves into the stopper role after the graduation of Jacob Wadlington.
“It will be tough to replace Jacob there, but Brent communicates as well as anyone on the team and should have a good season there,” Nichols said.
Wietting played in goal for most of last season and also handles the kicking duties for the Wildcat football team.
Senior T.C. Butts will move from midfield to defense, giving the Wildcats a defensive unit bigger and faster than they’ve had in recent years.
Sophomore A.J. Bridges returns at sweeper, although his speed will allow Nichols to use him on offense some.
“We have to look for spots to get A.J. involved in the offense. He’s so fast, but we need his speed on defense to stabilize us. He’s a natural forward, but his speed comes in handy on defense,” Nichols said.
Freshman Wesley Croom will see plenty of action at outside defender, giving Trigg more speed on defense.
Senior Kirk Garner will be the goalie, while freshman Josh Green will be the backup.
Garner started last season in goal but left the team early in the season.
Nichols expects to use his bench – something he hasn’t had the luxury of doing in past years because there was rarely more than two or three players on the sidelines.
Midfielders Landen Burcham, Jamiston Stewart, Shawn Sturgill, and Ronnie Weeks as well as defenders Dexter Rea and John Reinick give Nichols the depth he hasn’t had in the past.
That depth will be expanded even more when senior Jeremy Reed, who plays midfield and defense, returns from an ankle injury suffered in preseason practice. Nichols said Reed would miss between 4-6 weeks.
The Wildcat roster has come a long way from Nichols’ first season when he had nine boys and three girls and had to begin a district tournament game with ten players on the field.
“Depth is something we have never had since I’ve been here. We can now dress 18 players for each game,” he said, adding that this isn’t a one-year fluke. Nichols said his J.V. numbers are still high with seventh and eighth graders who plan to move up when it is their turn.
One thing he will have to get his younger players to do is communicate on the field with the upperclassmen, who have more game experience than their freshmen counterparts.
“Communicating still a problem and is something we have to work on. That was a major problem in our scrimmage loss to Franklin-Simpson,” said Nichols. “We will go as our freshmen go. If they have a good season, we’ll be a solid team. We can’t have them struggle too much.”
Trigg County opens the season with five of their first seven games at home. For the season, it balances out to eight at home and eight on the road.
“We want to get off on a good foot. Hopefully, the younger players will be more comfortable at home early. We want to win all of our home games and want to protect the home turf,” Nichols said.
After dominating the district for the past four years, Lyon County may see their reign come to an end.
“Lyon County graduates nine seniors from last year’s region championship, and Caldwell County returns a lot. They’ll be tough again this year,” Nichols said.