SOUTH WHITLEY — Change will be somewhat of a theme for the Whitko football program this season. After three-consecutive seasons of six wins, Josh Mohr to the next step in his career by becoming Whitko’s new athletic director, paving the way for first-year head coach Jeff Sprunger to take the reigns of the program.
“It really has been a fairly smooth transition with me being an assistant last year,” Sprunger stated. “It also helps that of the other five head coaches Whitko football has ever had, two of them are on my staff with Wayne Swender and my father, Bryan Sprunger, one of them is now my athletic director and one of them is a really close family friend in George Hathaway. So, the amount of support and help that I have had from family and friends and in the community is truly amazing.”
Sprunger takes over a team that graduated its fair share of talent last season, but still returns plenty of key players from a 6-6 team that made competed in both the conference and sectional championship games.
The most notable of those players is Garrett Elder, who will enter his senior season. Elder was a nightmare for defenses at quarterback last year in the team’s triple threat attack but will make the transition to halfback this season with the same goal in mind.
“Garrett has found himself a new role this season as our halfback,” Sprunger said of his senior stud. “We felt this was a better fit and gave us an ability to help get him into open spaces where he can do what he is good at and that is run!
“We hope that he is still that dominate force on offense but we really believe that by putting him in this new spot it’s also going to open up some other players like Hunter Reed, Dylan Stump and Robby Owsley to shine because of all the attention teams are going have to focus on Elder.”
With that move it left an important opening at the signal caller’s spot which will be filled by senior Colin Craig.
“We are excited to see Colin step up on the offensive side of the ball as our quarterback,” Sprunger said. “He’s one of several guys that we’re happy to see step up along with some of our linemen like Brandon Fugate, Gavin Howard and Matt Smith.
“Another player we are excited to watch develop into a new role is Zach Hewitt at tight end. Transitioning from a running back to a line position is a very selfless act, but he has the potential to be a big impact player in our passing game. Defensively, Craig and Conner Sherwin are the main anchors as our inside backers, but we are hoping Robby, Garrett, Cole Cmar, Draven Ivy, and Kaleb Busz will be a strong secondary that will shut down team’s passing games.”
While there are plenty of changes physically to the team this season, there is no wavering on what the goals are.
“It might getting a little cliche but we really just want to keep the ball rolling and understand that we have been a good team for the past couple of years because we had to work for it,” Sprunger explained. “As a team we know that we may not have the biggest, fastest, strongest players, but we can make up for that with our hustle and heart.
“We really expect our defense to again be the strong point of the team as the players learn the new offense that is being implemented, and we will probably have to lean on that defense early on in the season. However, we believe that as the weeks progress our offense is only going to get stronger and hopefully we are clicking on all cylinders by the end of the season.”
Whitko begins its season Friday night at Cambridge City Lincoln with a 7:30 p.m. start. The Wildcats thumped the Golden Eagles 49-6 to get rolling last season.