By Larry Blustein

larry block6 ON THE RISE: Western WildcatsSFHSSports: Twitter | Facebook

When the 2016 season ended and area schools were looking toward the following season, Western High head coach Adam Ratkevich knew he had something special.

After advancing to the state playoffs for the first time in a decade, the veteran head coach put things together – withy a suffocating defense and an offense that was young but on the rise.

As we turn that page and look at the upcoming season, the Wildcats are a team that everyone is mentioning to be in the 8A mix once again – and for good reason.

As they come in, along with Miramar, as a favorite to win the district – you can never turn your attention away from Cypress Bay (Mark Guandolo) and Steve Davis who returned to Plantation to get the Colonels back to the top.

On offense, this team will score a lot of points. Moving behind talented senior quarterback Harrison Story, this is a quality unit that has proven they can get it done.

With Story running and passing, expect things to get very exciting for fans who have watched this team mature and come together.

In addition to Story, Jaramaya Oliveras (2019) and Daniel Panchookian (2020) are solid for the future.

When it comes to adding balance to any attack, having one of the state’s best running backs certainly does not hurt. A year ago, gifted Class of 2018 standout Keshaun Clarke led Broward County in rushing. This season he comes back and the team has added depth with fellow seniors Daniel Colon and Richie Laurent.

One of the places where the Wildcats got a lot better was receiver – where Class of 2018 standouts Jordan Smith and Jaedan Fagan have already looked electrifying. So has Danny Sanders, who has shined in the spring and offseason.

In addition, this is a group that also boasts Class of 2018 standouts Andy Rodriguez, Blake Scott, Jaden Moses and Junior Garcon – as well as tight end Charlie Dale.

The future also looks promising with Class of 2019 performers Christos Gians, Jake Kalinowski and tight end John Panchookian. Class of 2020 receivers Peyton Monaco and Morgan Siegel are solid.

With a few key losses up front, the offseason was devoted to the building the offensive line back up. With seniors Christian Maffett, Ethan Rodriguez, A.J. Rubio

and Willy Rubio – as well as Class of 2019 rising star Julian Hernandez and very promising 2020 standout Jack Thibodeau, things could get very interesting.

DEFENSE STILL WORKING

As this program looks to get things going on defense once again this season, it’s what’s up front that will set the tempo. With three starters departed, it will be to five seniors and a sophomore to set the tone.

Seniors include Oliver Ambroise, Kervenson Bissainthe (DE), Victor Galeano, Matthew Loy (DE) and Christian Santos – as well as very promising Class of 2020 performer Nick Birdseye (DE).

Another area that has improved from last season – as far as depth in concerned – is the linebacking corps.

Talented seniors Jordan Chambers, Steffen Fernand, Dylan Litsenberger and Chris Rowland – as well as Flavio Vasquez (2019) and impressive Bryan Miller (2020) will give this unit a solid group of playmakers.

Perhaps the place to look when defining this year’s defense for the Wildcats will be in the secondary – where seniors Frank Heran, Jakai Linwood and gifted Robert Ruebel are joined by quality transfers Rueben Oliver and Teshaun Smith.

Juniors Chris Best and Cameron Decasseres will be solid – as will Jacob Grehl (2020).

The work that has been put in by this program has been noticed by everyone. Now, this talented team needs to go out and finish what they started in 2016.

Catch the South Florida High Sports Radio Show each Monday night (9-10) on WQAM (560AM). For the past 10 years, the players and coaches who are making the headlines, join the program. You will learn a lot!

 

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