Times Staff Reporter
Although their 2010 season ended in a relative success, the West Central Wildcats and their head coach, Mike Rindone, look for even more triumph in 2011.
The West Central Wildcats are a semi-pro (or minor-professional, as Rindone prefers to call it) football team based out of Brazil. They belong to the Interstate Football League (IFL).
The IFL included a total of 10 teams last season, but is down to just six for the 2011 season. Rindone doesn't think the change will have a negative impact on the season. "I think what it did was it got rid of a lot off fluff," Rindone said. "It got rid of a couple weak teams that they had. I think that a small, ultra-competitive league, which is the one that we're in, is just going to be a dogfight all year long."
The Wildcats finished 7-1 in the regular season, scoring 210 total points. However, West Central's great regular season didn't translate to the playoffs as much as Rindone had hoped, as the Wildcats went 1-1 in postseason play. Their playoff loss was to the eventual league champion Indiana Generals.
Rindone is excited for his team's offense this upcoming season.
"Offensively I think were going to progress a lot," Rindone said. "We've added Mike Ellis as our offensive coordinator. He has a wealth of experience at the collegiate and high school levels. I think its going to be extremely explosive ... We're going to stick to our guns in the running game. I think that's going to be very productive this year."
The Wildcats' roster this year looks to double from last year's, from 27 players to 50. The ages of the players on the roster are varied, and ranges from 19 to 35. All players and coaches are unpaid; any money that the team spends comes from sponsorships and donations. Rindone prefers his players to have at least some football experience in the past, but will "give anyone a look."
On the defensive side of the ball, West Central allowed just 68 total points all year, 52 of those in one game.
"Defensively I expect to be in the same position we were in last year, we were second in the league in overall defense, and I expect that to improve this year. Coach Jason Trainer, our defensive coordinator, has done a fantastic job putting in his system and making it work ... As long as we can keep the intensity up, eleven men to the ball and all the fundamentals, it all works out. If you have good, basic fundamentals, the rest becomes easy."
Rindone singled out Mike Landry, a returning quarterback who also plays wide receiver, as a key offensive player and returning linebacker Dan Smith.
With an NFL lockout looming, Rindone challenges anybody looking for their football fix to check out the Wildcats. "Just give it a game," Rindone said. "Come take a watch. We're going to put on a great show. We've got a lot of talent, and it's an avenue for guys who still love the game and still want to play and compete at a high level."
West Central plays the Generals again in a revenge game this Saturday at 7 p.m. at Indiana State 's Memorial Stadium.
2011 West Central Wildcats schedule
- Tonight's game at ISU Memorial Stadium
Remaining home games at Rose-Hulman
|Tonight||vs. Indiana Generals||7 p.m.|
|June 18||vs. KC Mustangs||7 p.m.|
|June 25||at Wanee Hurricanes|
|July 9||vs. Indiana Hitmen||noon|
|July 16||at Elkhart Shamrocks|
|July 23||vs. Indiana Cutters||noon|
|July 30||at KC Mustangs|
|Aug. 6||vs. Wanee Hurricanes||7 p.m.|
|Aug. 13||at Indiana Hitmen|
|Aug. 20||vs. Elkhart Shamrocks||7 p.m.|
|Aug. 27||at Indiana Cutters|
|Sept. 24||IFL Championship|