Wolves hope to show teeth
As the school with the smallest enrollment in the Cook Inlet Conference, Eagle River High’s football program is used be being outnumbered on the sidelines at most, if not all, games.
The loss of 13 seniors won’t help.
But the 28 Wolves on the 2012 varsity squad can compensate for their low numbers with determination, first-year head coach Jason Brewer said.
“We don’t have a lot coming back on either side of the ball,” he said. “With our attitude and commitment, we can make up for that.”
Eagle River has 11 returners, and every starter is essential for success, Brewer said.
“Our first 11 can play with anybody in the state,” he said. “It’s just keeping them healthy.”
Eagle River will have to fill the void left by recent graduate Kelechi Madubuko, who accounted for more than 40 percent of the Wolves’ scoring last year.
Madubuko — who scored 10 touchdowns, four on returns — was named the CIC Utility Player of the Year and earned All-CIC First Team honors as wideout and return specialist. He caught 25 passes for 538 years and six touchdowns.
All of those came from Peter Kott’s arm.
Kott, a junior, threw for 876 yards, nine touchdowns, 16 interceptions and completed 39 percent of his passes last season. He also led Eagle River with 359 rushing yards.
Ed Hall, another junior who saw significant playing time last year, averaged 5.9 yards per carry in 28 attempts. Hall was also tasked with shutting down the opposing team’s offense as a starting linebacker.
Hall and Kott — who each were clocked at 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash — are strong, speedy weapons for the Wolves, Brewer said.
In the 2012 track and field season, Kott set the school record in the 100-meter dash while Hall set the records in shot put and discus.
Eagle River’s offense will focus on its ground attack, Brewer said.
“We’re gonna be a running football team,” he said.
But, Brewer said, Eagle River will take to the air as well.
The Wolves lost a big body in graduating lineman O.J. Hall, a second-team All-CIC performer. But this year’s core line group — including returners Josh Bogowith, Rydell Reinbold, Andre White and Kevin Gilliland — has showed surprising strength, Brewer said.
“They’ve just absolutely worked their tails off,” he said.
Eagle River has finished just 1-7 the each of the past two seasons — and last year’s win came as a result of a Chugiak forfeit for use of an ineligible player.
Brewer said he’s committed to changing the attitude of Eagle River football.
“Winning and losing is a habit,” he said. “You got to break that habit.”
And the Wolves are committed to that change, Kott said.
“This year, we’re more focused,” he said. “People are more disciplined. The kids seem to want it more.”
Prior seasons should motivate the team, but the Wolves can’t let it affect their future, White said.
“We can’t let the past govern what we do,” he said.
The team has focused its preseason practices on conditioning, Kott said.
Brewer and his coaching staff are training the team to stay mentally tough and persevere despite exhaustion. Coming into the season fit will be important, Kott said, as many of the team’s players will play offense and defense.
“Having physical and mental toughness to push through to the final minutes is really going to be key,” he said.
Senior Jachi Madubuko agreed.
“Plays are only half the battle,” he said. “You have to be able to be strong enough and quick enough to execute.”
Despite being labeled perennial underdogs, Eagle River is entering the season with the goal of winning every game, Jachi Madubuko said.
“To look any lower is to give up our season right now,” he said.
Eagle River Wolves
Head coach: Jason Brewer (1st year)
Last season: 1-7 overall, 1-6 CIC (missed playoffs)
Key Returners: Peter Kott, QB/S, Jr.; Ed Hall, RB/LB, Jr.; Jachi Madubuko, RB/LB, Sr.; Rydell Reinbold, DE, Sr.; Corbin Duxbury, WR/OL, Cody Newman, G, Jr.; Kevin Gilliland, T, Sr.; Andre White, C/DT, Sr.; Jordan Patin, K, Sr.; Jeavonte Dunn, WR/DB, Sr.; Josh Oberlander, RB/CB
Key newcomers: Parker Eiler, QB, Sr.; Austin Thomas, G/T, So.; Collin Metzel, WR/S, Jr.
Key losses: Kelechi Madubuko, WR/KR; Sam Banks, LB; O.J. Hall, OL/DL; Josh Vanderlooven, RB/DB; Javon Cross, WR
Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727.