WESLEY CHAPEL — Scott Edwards knows if there’s a will, there will be a win.
That’s exactly what the Wildcats need, a win — not want, need.
“Its definitely super important to get a win, but especially for us,” the 6-foot-2 junior quarterback said, referring to the team’s winless 2013 season. “Coach (Tico Hernandez) has brought up that 2004 was the last time we made the playoffs and we’re going for that. We have to take it one step at a time to get that first win.”
Its been a long time since Wesley Chapel had a season worth remembering. That 2004 season also was the last winning season (7-3).
Last season, Wesley Chapel was outscored 312-68. Despite that, optimism is high among staff and players.
“These guys have been working their butts off,” Hernandez said. “We know life is not fair, but if we go out and put ourselves in the best situation, we’re going to find success. Things will be fun once we get this thing rolling.”
Edwards will be a part of the team’s success. He came off a shoulder injury to step up and become the offensive leader, even if that was scoring four of the team’s five offensive touchdowns in 2013.
“Scott and the other kids are out there pushing each other,” Hernandez said. “But Scott is out there and ready to be a true leader. The only thing holding us back would be ourselves. We’re going against great teams and our non-district schedule is brutal. But we ask: ‘How come we can’t compete?’ And we can, as long as we optimize the ball, make tackles, limit mistakes and capitalize on opponents’ mistakes.”
Edwards said the team has been headed in the right direction since Hernandez took over before the 2013 season.
“His attitude is really positive and he’s always looking forward to the day,” Edwards said. “He’s always happy to see everyone improving. But I also need to lead and set an example. ... (The losing streak) is going to end, and, honestly, I don’t see a losing season this year.”
The Wildcats turn to quarterback Scott Edwards to run the offense, especially since he can be a dual threat when given protection and when there is help around him. Jeremiah Waters in the backfield will help, as will Nathaniel Rodriguez at receiver. Coach Tico Hernandez said the size of the linemen who will start will surprise. Those linemen worked hard during the offseason, but they also need experience.
The loss of Nalu Fraticelli (102 tackles), Nathan Love (65 tackles) and Eric Bennett (6 sacks) hurts, so the team will have to find many new defensive starters. Returning to run the defense is linebacker Alexander Jacob, who had 63 tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in 2013. Keep an eye on cornerback Anthony Bent, who led the team with two interceptions.
The best thing going for the Wildcats is they’re in Class 5A-District 7, which has parity. Wesley Chapel likely won’t struggle as much as last season, nor go winless, but it is probably a year away from being a solid contender in the district. However, they Wildcats should score more points this season and won’t be a pushover against district opponents.
♦ About The Wildcats
Stadium: Wildcat Stadium, 30651 Wells Road, Wesley Chapel
Class-District: 5A-7 (with Anclote, Gulf, Hudson, Ridgewood and River Ridge)
Coach: Tico Hernandez (0-10, second season)
Last season: 0-10
Aug. 29: at Zephyrhills
Sept. 5: Lecanto
Sept. 12: Pasco
Sept. 19: at Hudson
Oct. 3: Ridgewood
Oct. 10: Sunlake
Oct. 17: at River Ridge
Oct. 24: Anclote
Oct. 31: Gulf
Nov. 7: at Wiregrass Ranch