By Mary Ramsaier
FAYETTEVILLE, Ga. — After dismantling Starr’s Mill 43-21 in last season’s opener, the Whitewater Wildcats will seek to prowl over them again.
Whitewater will kick off its season Friday against in-county rival Starr’s Mill at home in what will be the season opener for both programs, and Wildcats senior Captain, Ian McIntyre, is excited for the first game of his senior season.
After playing on varsity during all four years of his high school career — which is usually unheard of at a big high school — McIntyre has experienced it all under the Friday Nights lights and is ready for the challenge to provide senior leadership to his team this season.
“I’ve played with these guys in middle school,” McIntyre said. “I’ve been looking forward to playing with them the whole time in high school. I’ve (always) wanted to play with my guys.”
Losing almost their whole starting line-up, the Cats have spent the summer rebuilding and molding a new team nucleus for the 2015 season.
On offense, the big question has been who will take three-year starting quarterback Jay Ashley’s position. And so far, the answer seems to be senior, Nic Watson. Watson said he’s looking forward to carving out his own identity under center this season.
“I’m not Jay Ashley,” Watson said. “But, I’m going to be who I am and play the way I am.” Watson has been working hard in the off-season as Whitewater has been sorting out their quest for a new quarterback, and you can count McIntyre among those who has nothing but praises for Watson.
“Nic’s doing a great job,” McIntyre said. “He’s [taken] everyday with a great attitude.”
Defensively, the Wildcats only had two key returning starters which were McIntyre — who will line up at both safety and running back this year — and defensive end Daiquan Williamson. Both have worked around their new players enough to say that both units have come a long way since the beginning of summer practice.
“We said, ‘Whoever is going to work hard every day, that person is starting on Fridays.”
Since losing a lot of leadership with the graduation of guys such as Russell Welch and Jay Ashley and more this year’s seniors found themselves with huge voids to fill — perhaps bigger than they realized until the season started.
McIntyre, Watson and fullback/nose tackle Hunter Griffin have adjusted to the demands, and have had to be the ones to step up in the leadership roles of the team.
“We’ve realized the responsibility we have, Watson. “We are ready to take it on.”
Said McIntyre: “I’ve been getting everyone motivated for what’s to come.”
As Friday night goes, the Wildcats are confident about what to expect against the Panthers as they’ve studied film and done their homework for the week. Starr’s Mill has a strong senior class returning that will give Whitewater a run for their money Friday night.
But McIntyre believes his squad is ready to take the first steps to another postseason run.
“As far as what we are doing, we are playing our game, affirms McIntyre. “If we do everything we need to do correctly, we will be fine. We have some plays that might surprise them, but I am not giving anything away.”