SOUTH WHITLEY – It was an exhilarating first year on the job for Whitko head coach Josh Mohr in 2013.
The rookie head coach started off 0-2 before guiding the Wildcats to six victories in the next seven games to claim a piece of the Three Rivers Conference championship for the first time since 2002. But there is no difference in the level of expectations for the Wildcats entering year number two under Mohr.
“The goals stay the same for us,” began Mohr.”We want to get better every single week. One of our top goals, always, is to win the conference championship. We want to focus on us first and make sure that we are progressing throughout the season in order to achieve that goal.”
Achieving that goal is certainly possible for the Wildcats. While Whitko lost quarterback and playmaker Ethan Nicodemus to graduation, there is still plenty to get excited about in South Whitley.
The biggest returning player will be Tanner Hughes. Hughes was a nightmare for defenses out of the backfield in 2013, rushing for over 1,200 yards. A few returning players along the line and a second year in Mohr’s offense will give Hughes some familiarity with running lanes in order to increase that yardage total.
“I want to run for 2,000 yards” Hughes stated. “Obviously that’s something that comes secondary to our team success and it’s something that will take a team effort to do, but it is one of my goals.”
Hughes talked about how the team is aiming for some payback from the three regular season losses it had last year. Wawasee and Columbia City are the first two on the list but later on in the season the Wildcats will take on Rochester, the team it split its conference crown with. Both Hughes and Mohr know that Rochester will again be near the top of the Three Rivers Conference.
“Rochester is always one of the teams at the top,” Mohr said. “They’re well coached and always present a problem for the rest of the TRC. Really, looking at the conference this year it looks like it will be the strongest it has been in a while.
“There is a lot of teams that are in the same boat we were last year where we had a lot of juniors playing. Southwood, Northfield and North Miami all come to mind. Tippecanoe Valley is a team that lost a lot but has a lot of talent still and is very, very well coached with coach (Scott) Bibler. It will be a strong conference this year.”
One thing that will help the Wildcats in the conference jaunt is depth across the board. One area the team apparently has some depth is at quarterback as Brady Weeks and Garrett Elder are battling out for the starting spot, even this week. But Mohr is not worried.
“I look at it like I have two quarterbacks and that’s a great problem to have,” said Mohr.
Indeed it is, hopefully Mohr and the Wildcats won’t encounter too many problems this Friday when they open the season at home against Wawasee.