The Hawks prepare for a season with crop of new faces

: Cesar J ToledoSports

There is familiarity associated with the start of a football season. The sounds of bodies colliding, whistle blowing and coaches yelling, ”run it again.” The grass stained white and green uniforms taking a beating day in and day out and the gush of sweat that pours through your face like a busted radiator hose. The excitement of seeing your team and recognizable players bust through the school’s banner as they sprint onto the field toward their sideline. Hawk fans have already been privy to all except one.

This year when the Woodward-Granger Hawks varsity team stepped onto the field, fans were treated to a great game had by some unfamiliar faces.

“We graduated 14 seniors last year and have a lot of open starting positions to fill,”so there will be a lot of new faces this year out on the field,” said Hawks head coach George Ashman.

The Hawks have been practicing for weeks assessing which players are the frontrunners to fill those holes. Quarterback is one of those positions that was vacated when senior Cole Ashman graduated. Ashman passed for 1027 yards on 66 completions and threw for nine touchdowns. The team has already played their first game on August 28, when they faced the Martensdale-St.Marys Blue Devils. The Hawks won the game eight to zero but couldn’t evaluate Sophomore Brendan Bird’s game management.

“We only threw the ball one time as due to the weather, coach Ashman said. “The ball was very heavy and very slippery and our running game was doing the job.”

The team gained 159 yards on 52 rushing attempts scoring the game’s lone TD by junior Tanner Vermaas. Vermaas was given half of the team’s carries. He averaged 4.7 yards a carry on 26 attempts. The staff might be able to see if Bird has what it takes when the Hawks travel to play Madrid Senior High on Friday September 4.

It maybe a new set of faces but the coach and his staff will continue to run the same offensive and defensive schemes that they did last year. This should help returning players feel comfortable and new players should be able to learn the system quickly. However, coach Ashman isn’t opposed to implementing anything he feels would give his team an advantage.

“We always try to adjust our game plans to the strength of the athletes we have,” he said. “If we can be balanced we will be, looks like we will be more of a 70 -30 team this year, but you never know? We are also a very young team - Yes, we have 11 seniors but in playing time they are young for the varsity level.”

For now the team is working hard to fix any gaps in their play. The coaching staff is looking to see who will be stepping up and carry the team but they understand the season is still too fresh.

“It really is too early to pick just one athlete as the stand out and our team slogan this year is team first,” Ashman said. “So if I have to pick something I would have to say the team itself is who I would pick as they need to come together as one to have a successful season.

Of course the team is looking to play for a state title,or having a winning season is great, but if the team falls short of that goal it doesn’t translate into a less than successful season.

“A successful season for this team would to get better and stay healthy every week,” he said.

Fall Season Schedule: All Varsity Games will start at 7 p.m. unless informed otherwise. Always check the school’s website for details.

Away 09/04/2015 - Fri Madrid @Madrid

Away 09/11/2015 - Fri Truro @Interstate 35, Truro

Home 09/18/2015 - Fri Woodward Panorama

Home 09/25/2015 - Fri Woodward Southwest Valley

Away 10/02/2015 - Fri Jewel @South Hamilton

Away 10/09/2015 - Fri Leon @Central Decatur, Leon

Home 10/16/2015 - Fri Woodward Van Meter

Away 10/23/2015 - Fri Johnston @Des Moines Christian