Western Yell County has won just 10 games since 2005, but with 14 starters returning for 2013, things could be looking up for the Wolverines.
Mark Lewis led them to a 1-9 mark in his debut season last year. The win came in Week 9 — a 55-24 win over Hartford. The Wolverines finished 1-7 in the 4-2A.
But seven starters return on both sides of the football among 23 returning lettermen. The Wolverines will run a split-back Veer offense and 3-4 defense.
“Our expectation is to be much improved and to compete for a possible playoff berth,” Lewis said.
The Wolverines aim to make just their second appearance in the state playoffs, following their debut in 2009.
Western Yell County closed with more momentum than it started in 2012, scoring 102 of its 110 points in the last five games. The Wolverines opened with consecutive shutout losses to Cutter Morning Star (42-0), Johnson County Westside (51-0) and Lamar (41-0). For the season, the Wolverines were outscored 404-110.
“With a new coach, a new system and a lot of sophomore starters, we struggled for the first six games,” Lewis said. “The last four we seemed to get it and made a lot of improvement that we hope we carry over to this season.”
Junior Trent Cobb (6-0, 200) returns at quarterback. Others who had secured starting positions by press time were junior Chris Thygesen (6-1, 185) at running back and linebacker; juniors Alex Thygesen (6-1, 155) and Clayton Montgomery (6-3, 170) at wide receiver and defensive back, and Brandon Mitchell on the offensive and defensive lines.
Lewis said the 14 returning starters would be a team strength.
“We’ve got added depth in the offensive and defensive lines, as well as improved strength,” he said. “Our weakness is a lack of tradition.”
Hackett, Mountainburg, Hector, Decatur and Johnson County Westside were the 4-2A’s playoff representatives last year.
“The top four teams in the conference seem pretty solid, but there will be a lot of competition for the last playoff spot,” Lewis said.
He said the key game for the Wolverines will be Johnson County Westside on Sept. 13.
“It’s the first conference game, and it will give us a good indication of how our season will go,” Lewis said.