West football: Pioneers think theyre on way back
Looking back on the 2012 season, coach Weston Schartz can find one positive after another in every game. Sure, the Pioneers finished 3-6, but there was only one game, the loss to Carroll, in which they didnt have opportunities to win.
There was the game against Heights, which was scoreless at the half and included two West possessions that ended inside the Heights 10. There were the games with district foes Kapaun, Andover Central and Arkansas City in which West had chances in the fourth quarter.
I think people said, West is better this year, but Im not sure the other teams (players) bought into it, Schartz said. We didnt get everyones best effort, and theyll have to play this year.
Schartz is confident that his team is one to reckon with in his second year back after spending the previous 10 at Northwest. The offseason was rewarding with 10 players a 100-percent increase who can bench 300 pounds.
Those are little things, but weve made some huge strides, Schartz said.
Schartz believes the Pioneers will back up his statements of expected improvement including the goal of a Class 5A playoff berth because of their talent.
D.J. Jones, who transferred before his junior season, is in his fourth year starting at quarterback. He was third in the City League regular season in passing yards, despite missing three games due to an injury.
The running game will be stout with Trevon Mitchell, Dominic Jones and Kalin Collins, players who Schartz considers interchangeable. He might have Mitchell at fullback and Jones at tailback for one down, then move Jones to fullback, Mitchell to tailback for another.
Mitchell, who had 780 rushing yards in 2012, is multi-talented and could play anything from tailback to offensive line. He also has moved from linebacker to strong safety so the Pioneers can use him more effectively on offense.
Well try to platoon as much as we can, Schartz said. We have 18 starters, and we have a lot more depth than we did.
As for the rest of the running backs, Jones is a bruiser, while Collins runs the trap, Schartzs staple. In short-yardage situations, West will utilize 260-pound Tyrell Saunders.
The Pioneers have their sights on their first winning season since 2001, Schartzs final year in his first stint at West.
We want to have a winning season, Schartz said. Anything short of that would be a failure to us. Im excited about this team, Im excited about the condition of our program. Youll have to play to beat us. Thats what you have to get back first. Were not the 90s West team yet, but its not an automatic W anymore.
Coach: Weston Schartz, 17th season, 87-65
League: City League
Last season: 3-6
Last five seasons: 9-36
Projected 2013 playoff team? Yes
Top skill players
|Sept. 6||at South|
|Sept. 13||East (at NW)|
|Sept. 20||Southeast (at NW)|
|Sept. 27||at Carroll|
|Oct. 4||at Heights|
|Oct. 10||North (at NW)|
|Oct. 18||Kapaun (at WSU)|
|Oct. 25||Andover Central (at NW)|
|Nov. 1||Arkansas City (at NW)|
Marcus Malcolm on his team
What West does well: Our defense, defnitely. I think we have one of the best defensive lines in the City (League). Our d-line is really big, and our safeties, Im a safety, we have a lot of speed, so that will help.
What has to improve: Our O-line. They need a lot more experience. Its a whole bunch of young, big kids who just need to know what theyre doing.