Worcester County Wildcats Prepare for Home Opener
Friday, July 20, 2012
The game against the rival Western Mass Warriors marks the beginning of one of the most anticipated Wildcat seasons since the team's inception in 2004. The Wildcats were consistent contenders in their early years, playing in NEFL's AA level, but a jump to the AAA level in 2007 has led to some disappointing seasons for Worcester County.
The Wildcats went just 3-7 last season, but owner and coach Dennis Faulkner believes his team returns enough talent to contend for a division title.
"We think we're going to have a much better prepared team this year because we have more returning players and seasoned veterans," Faulkner said. "We're expecting big things from this group, and I think the veteran leadership is going to be a strength."
If you like offense, the Wildcats are sure to impress. Worcester County will run the majority of its offense out of the spread formation, taking advantage of their talented receivers, including the 6-foot-4 Jamaal Atkins and the smaller, but fleet-footed Martel Hughes.
"Martel reminds me a lot of DeSean Jackson out in Philly," Faulkner said. "He's that inside slot guy that is just pure speed. He's really got some wheels on him. With him and Jamaal, we've got the receivers, so the spread will favor us, especially because we have a quarterback that can run it."
That quarterback is former South High standout Shane Swift. After leading Central Mass in passing yards as a high school junior, Swift started at quarterback his freshman year of college at Becker, then went on to start at wide receiver for Worcester State. Now in his third year with the Wildcats, Swift is embracing a leadership role for Worcester County.
"My goals are just to be the best leader I can be, along with throwing a few touchdowns here or there," Swift said. "As a team, we want to make a serious run at winning the whole thing. We all know we have the players in position to do so and, at this point, we just need to keep our heads and execute in all three phases."
Defensively, look for linebacker Brandon Hampton to star as a sideline-to-sideline defender in Worcester County's 3-3-5 scheme. Faulkner feels the strength of his defense is the speed in his secondary, but loves Hampton's natural aggressiveness and nose for the ball. While Faulkner is a football junkie, he knows the biggest selling point of his organization is not X's and O's, but rather family fun.
"We just think it's a great opportunity for kids to come out and see some great football," Faulkner said. "We're going to have some halftime activities and prize giveaways, so we're hoping for a good turnout tomorrow."
The Wildcats take on the Warriors tomorrow night at Worcester's Foley Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 pm, and you can buy your tickets here, or at the stadium box office.