WG football moves ahead as ‘quiet’ contender

Wildcats showcase enhanced passing attack without Naesean Howard

— Having Naesean Howard around gave the West Genesee football program a higher profile in recent years, and his performance rated a spot on this fall’s Syracuse University squad.

But now that Howard is gone, the Wildcats, out to improve on a 3-5 mark in 2013 that included a first-round Section III Class AA playoff ouster by Liverpool, look forward to showing a few more dimensions on the offensive side of the ball.

“Whether (opponents) are ready or not, we’re going to have a more balanced attack,” said senior captain Pat Spiddle.

That hope largely stems from having Dashon Turner taking over full-time at quarterback. A season ago, Turner had to start three games when senior Bailey Gauthier was out due to injury, and head coach Joe Corley said that experience will prove quite valuable once this season gets underway.

It helps, too, that Turner has a strong set of receivers on hand. Will Northrop is a third-year starter at tight end, while Baldwinsville transfer Collin Taylor joins fast-rising Aaron Wierbinski and do-everything senior Colin BeVard to give the Wildcats plenty of options.

“Our passing game will be strong,” said Northrop.

And the intention is that the running game will thrive, too, but those hopes are now tempered a bit. Midway through the team’s intrasquad scrimmage last Wednesday night, Duane Rolfe, slated to be the starting tailback and already emerging as a team leader, injured his knee while getting tackled by several defenders.

The extent of Rolfe’s injury remains unknown, but his teammates were shaken up, and the rest of the scrimmage was canceled. Rolfe could return this season, but for now, that will mean more carries for Joey Vetter, who was splitting time with Rolfe before the injury.

“We hate to see this happen,” said Corley. “But we will move forward.”

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