The Wildcats have seen post-season play for two years in a row, and they have a good chance at seeing a third year in 2012.
Coach: Dave Fennewald (entering his 22nd as head coach at Mulvane 104-88)
2011 Recap: 8-3 overall, 3-2 in league, 3-0 in district
2012 District: at Winfield, Wellington, at Clearwater
Returning Starters: Offense 6, Defense 7
Returning Lettermen: 27
Offense: A well-established group of upperclassmen led Mulvane to score 409 points in 2011. This season a talented senior class will emerge, and many returning starters are on the prowl for another post-season appearance.
“We were pretty explosive last year and could score in a hurry,” said Coach Fennewald. “However, we need to get better at our running game to move the chains late in games. We are a shotgun spread offense, and we lost two all-league running backs in Mike Bird and Todd Parton and wide receiver Austin Duncan as well as offensive tackle Jimmy Beyers.”
The offense will have protection from returning second team all-league senior center Taylor Flinn and senior offensive tackle Jace Caldwell. Juniors Logan Adams and Isaiah Evans will join with the senior led offense in order to defend the offensive line and keep the Wildcats at or above their average of 37.2 points per game. Senior tight end Alex Evans will likewise guard the line, but his role as a receiver will also be beneficial to the Wildcat offensive production. Evans averaged 14 yards per catch last season.
Senior quarterback Ty Redington will be counted on as the leader of the offense this season, and he is certainly capable of the work load. Not only did he have 2,305 passing yards with a .635 completion percentage, but he also rushed an average of 46.5 yards per game. He received second team all-league honors as quarterback, kicker
“(We) have a very talented senior class with many returning starters,” said Coach Fennewald. “They are hard workers, athletic, and most of all very good kids. (We) have to replace three secondary kids and our offensive running backs. We will go as far as our offensive line takes us this year.”
Senior second team all-league wide receiver Nolan Smith and junior Michael Mason will also be expected to produce for the Mulvane offense. In the 2011 season, Smith had 596 receiving yards in 42 catches, while junior Michael Mason had an average of 20.5 rushing yards per game.
Defense: Payton Doramus, Oliver Hughes, and Seth Sharpe will be tough to replace on the defensive side of the ball, but the transition would be much harder without the senior leadership of all-league defensive lineman Nick Christian.
The Wildcats gave up an average of 19.9 points last season. This season they hope to use senior linebackers Tanner Cusick, Cole Williams, and Zach Haynes as well as seniors Cornelius Ukena and Jarret Price in order to make up for the costly losses in Doramus, Hughes, and Sharpe.
“Our defense was much improved last year,” said Coach Fennewald. “I thought we tackled very well. We lost three secondary players to graduation who were all league last year. That is a big concern for us right now.”
The uneasiness progresses at the thought of having only one returner in the secondary of their 3-4 defense. Fortunately, that lone returner is all-league second teamer Kolby Fennewald.
“With my son in this senior class I have been watching these kids grow up since their elementary days,” said Coach Fennewald. “It makes it a little more special on the sidelines for all of us. We will just take it one game at a time and see what happens. We have a tough schedule, possibly the toughest since I have been in Mulvane and we hope that prepares us well for districts.”
Odds and Ends: This season Mulvane will see Wellington, Clearwater, and Winfield in district play for the third year in a row. Since they have been undefeated against those district opponents, it looks like they have a good chance at seeing post-season play.
The Wildcats will play their first game of the 2012 season at home on Friday, August 31st against the Chanute Blue Comets.