Wilber-Clatonia looks ready to once again contend in Class C2 playoff race
WILBER - Wilber-Clatonia has been to the state football playoffs in Class C2 for 12 straight years.
Lynn Jurgens has been the head coach for 11 of those teams.
"He's got great strategies," senior wingback and defensive back Tad Moldenhauer said. "He's a great coach. He has a heck of a brain. He just comes up with things you wouldn't think of, and he has a great way of motivating us and getting us going. So, we're always ready."
On top of his 'good brain,' Jurgens has plenty of talent and experience to work with in 2019. Three of the top four receivers and eight of the top 10 tacklers are back, but the Wolverines must replace their starting quarterback and three of their top four rushers from 2018.
"Quarterback is wide open," Jurgens said. "We have four guys that are all pretty decent, but very little experience there."
Outside of Michael Pulliam, the only guys that saw any time at QB in 2018 were Colby and Devin Homolka. They each completed one pass.
Junior Mitchell Thompson is expected to tote the rock a bit more in the backfield this season after racking up 217 yards and four touchdowns on 33 carries last year. Senior Tad Moldenhauer is also capable after rushing for 330 yards and five touchdowns on 43 carries.
Wilber-Clatonia is making an unexpected change at center. Senior Tyler Hooper was seriously injured last winter in a sledding accident. While he made a full recovery and competed in track in the spring, he'll be unable to join his teammates on the football field this season.
"We're lucky Tyler is around with us today," Jurgens said. "That was a freak accident, but at least he's around...it's just another guy we have to replace, just like the seniors we lost last year. It really hurts us depth wise, because we're going to be really good up front."
The Wolverines have some spots to fill, but those that are back are feeling extra motivated this fall after a comeback bid against Oakland-Craig fell short in last year's quarterfinals.
"By the end of the year, we'll be really tough to beat," Jurgens said. "We have a lot of team speed. We're going to be really young again. We only have 4-5 seniors again, so not a lot of experience, but four of those guys will be starters for sure."
Wilber-Clatonia will also have a favorable schedule in 2019, facing only three opponents that made the playoffs last season - Archbishop Bergan, Freeman and Sutton.
You can follow Tommy on Twitter @Tommy_NCN.