Times Staff Reporter
With a new league and a fresh, diversified game plan, the West Central Wildcats hope to build on a season which saw them fall just short of championship gold.
Following a disastrous, injury-riddled, 2008 season which yielded only one win, Brazil's own semi-professional football team bounced back nicely last year, compiling an impressive 9-4 record in '09, which ended in a heartbreaking 25-22 loss to Ohio River in the league championship game.
This season, the Wildcats return to action with a plethora of new and returning talent. Coach and General Manager Mike Rindone says his roster is currently up to 40 players, an increase from 33 last season. He said practices have been conducted since May, and significant improvements have been made on a daily basis on both sides of the ball.
Key returning players on offense include quarterback Mike Landry and wide receiver, James Allen, while the defense will return key components such as linebacker Dan Smith and defensive back, Gage Thoma.
The addition of new offensive talent is where Rindone envisions West Central becoming a more well-rounded and dangerous team. New wideout, Johnny Bruce, and the tight end duo of John Goodrich and Derrek Thompson will help highlight a new spread formation that Rindone and his staff are implementing in order to give QB Landry a wider array of options in the passing game.
"In the past we've always been a power running team," Rindone said. "We are definitely going to try and spread things out and become more dynamic this season."
The 2010 season will mark a change in competition for the Wildcats, as they enter an entirely new league. After spending its first six seasons as a franchise in the Midwest Football League (MFL), the team jumped to the Interstate Football League (IFL) for this season. Rindone said the defection was done in part because of problems within the MFL, but also because the new league offered "a much higher level of competition."
"We want to win a championship," Rindone said. "I've been telling the guys since we've started that was our goal, and I absolutely expect to be in (a position to win one) by the end of the season."
Aside from the aforementioned difficulty with tougher opponents, the IFL is filled entirely with teams the Wildcats have never played before, thus giving Rindone and his staff little to work with in the way of preparation. Though it does provide a potential hiccup in research, Rindone didn't back down at all from his championship aspirations.
"Obviously it's going to require we do a little more scouting, but it's not a big concern for me," Rindone said. "At the end of the day, its just football."
To drive his display of confidence home, Rindone referenced a well-publicized quote by one of football's all time great smack talkers.
"Get your popcorn ready," Rindone said, paying homage to enigmatic NFL wideout Terrell Owens. "It's gonna be a great season."
The West Central Wildcats season is currently set to kickoff July 10, with a road game against the Tri-County Raiders. However, Rindone said the game is subject to change, as the team could potentially open the season at home against a to be determined opponent. For more information on the team and a full schedule, log on to www.westcentralwildcats.org or www.interstatefootballleague.com.