I made a quick stop this afternoon at Westlake, the team that reached the Class C championship last year but is being bumped back up to Class B this season.
The Wildcats were a mere footnote to history last fall. They were the team that upended Croton in the regular season and looked like they were going to be beneficiary of Dobbs Ferry getting upset in the semifinals. But Westlake ran into a far different Croton team it beat handily in Week 3 and had to watch as the Tigers reached the Carrier Dome three weeks later.
Westlake turned over most its roster from last season as the program as a whole has taken a different shape. There’s a JV team for the first time since 2003, which means there will only be about 25 players on varsity and 25 on JV (last year had about 40 on the varsity).
The Wildcats are a very young team, although many of the seniors it does have are two- and even three-year starters. The line is big, led by 6-6, 270-pound Joe Luckie, and athletic with guard Edison Gramajo, a senior captain. Although the roster is long, just about everyone on it, according to Rich Hennessey, will play.
Adam Ranellone will take over as the primary ball-carrier. The senior fullback has really packed on muscle in the offseason, and will be a problem to tackle at 5-foot-9, 210-pounds. Ranellone, also a linebacker, will be one of the conference’s top two-way players.
Will Duff, a senior, takes over at quarterback. And there a few good young tailbacks, the most intriguing being Matt DeBiase, the sixth brother to play for Westlake (there’s two younger brothers, too). Jesse DeBiase was Westlake’s standout running back/linebacker last season.
It’s difficult to forecast what Westlake will do this season in Class B. The teams on its schedule are all familiar from when they were in B two years ago. Briarcliff, Pleasantville and Edgemont all figure to be tough matchups. If the Wildcats can beat Irvington in Week 2 and Kennedy in Week 3, they’ll be in good shape to earn a playoff spot over the final three weeks.
That’s all for today. I’ll make a few stops again tomorrow. Suggestions are always welcome.