CWU Football wraps up preseason

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CWU Football wraps up preseason

CWU Athletic Communications

CWU Athletic Communications

CWU Athletic Communications

Nick Jahnke, Sports Editor

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Wildcat football has finished their preseason and have moved into the regular season with a 1-3 record. The Wildcats lost to NCAA Division I-FCS Idaho and number two ranked team Ferris State University in the first two games. They were able to secure their first win of the season against Western New Mexico University (WNMU) in the third before falling to the Western Oregon University (WOU) Wolves. 

Head coach Chris Fisk said the team has been working hard to get to where they want to be. He said it’s taking more time than coaches and fans may like and that may be a result of the age of the team. Fisk said the starting offense is young, with a lot of freshmen and sophomores stepping onto the field on Saturdays. Fisk also said that while the starting defense is comprised of older players, their backups are mainly young guys.

During their first game against the University of  Idaho’s Vandals, the Wildcats were slow to start and did not find the endzone until the second quarter, according to the Wildcat Sports website. Fortunately, the defense was able to keep the score low until the offense could find their stride and put some points on the board. 

Starting quarterback Canon Racanelli said starting slow is an issue the offense has been trying to work on. He said they need to start bringing enthusiasm from start to finish each practice.

“We’ve been trying to fix that in practice. We need to make sure from play one we’re executing, executing, executing,” Racanelli said.

Fisk said one of the ways they have been working on starting faster is a “kickstarter” period at the beginning of practice. He said they start off practice by pitting the starting offense and starting defense against each other in a thud-tempo team session.

“We work hard on it. It hasn’t happened for us yet but it’s something we work hard on. It’s not something we just started, we work hard on it year-round,” Fisk said.

Another area of improvement for the offense is being able to score when they get into the redzone, according to Fisk. He said that in their third game versus WNMU, the offense found themselves in the red zone five times and were not able to convert and score a touchdown.

Fisk said the team is currently working on things like red zone offense and third-down efficiency to become more effective when it comes time to put points on the board. 

“Offensively, we’re moving the heck out of the ball every game and moving up and down the field. I think we’re one of the top teams in the country or top in the GNAC in terms of yards per game,” Fisk said. “We just need to find some consistency when we get into the red zone.”

Running back Michael Roots said the offense has room for improvement. Despite this Roots feels they have been playing fast and doing a good job of doing the little things right. Roots said even though they are going into the regular season with a losing record, he feels confident in their ability to rein in some wins in the upcoming weeks.

From a defensive standpoint, the Wildcats need to improve their run defense, according to Fisk. Despite some trouble stopping runs, Fisk said the defense has come out strong in the first couple of games. Especially in the game against  WNMU in which the defense was able to turn the ball over and cause the Mustangs to punt frequently. 

Defensive safety Jeremiah Vasquez said he feels the defense is coming together well this season. He said that while there is still some learning to be done, the starters have been doing a good job of coming downhill fast.

“That’s what we try and do, we try to play with speed,” Vasquez said. “We try to use that to our advantage because if you look at us, we aren’t the biggest team in the world but we win with our athleticism.”

Vasquez said his top game so far has been against number two ranked Ferris State University (FSU). Although FSU took home the win with the final score being 62-28, Vasquez said going up against tough teams is important for the defense to grow.

“It’s a good experience. Going against the number two team in the nation. Having that feeling is something real. It shows us where we’re at and shows us where we can be,” Vasquez said.

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