Daily Herald's 2017 Season Coverage
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updated: 8/23/2013 8:07 PM

Wheeling intends to turn it up

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  • The prevalence of returning senior starters such as Sam Yoshino means Wheeling could make some noise this fall.

      The prevalence of returning senior starters such as Sam Yoshino means Wheeling could make some noise this fall.
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

By Dick Quagliano
Daily Herald Correspondent

There are lots of whispers coming from Wheeling right now.

And if Wheeling were to make the playoffs this year, those whispers will turn into shouts.

"It is all a bit premature," cautions Wheeling coach Brent Pearlman, who is in his second year as the program's head coach. "We are little dinged up. We haven't seen the whole thing put together yet. That is part of the game.

We just want to see what the picture looks like."

Wheeling has qualified for the playoffs just six times since the playoffs began in 1974. Pearlman, who took Prospect to the playoffs 10 times while winning three state titles, likes the dedication he has seen from his team thus far.

"We actually have pretty good depth," Pearlman said. "Our kids have done a great job in getting themselves better, and our coaches have done a great job in using our guys."

In past seasons, Wheeling would have trouble finding 11 players that could get on the field and be competitive. This season, the Wildcats have 34 players on the roster, and 29 of them that should see the field at the start of the season.

"Do we have to practice creatively?" Pearlman said. "Yes, we do. As far as the kids' development and the kids that we have are we going to use them, all these kids are on the field weekly."

Amani Dennis, who played in four games as a sophomore last year, will be at quarterback for the Wildcats. Dennis, who runs and throws well, has made great strides, according to Pearlman.

"He is getting better each day," Pearlman said. "He played in our last few games and looked good."

Isaac Branch, who also started last year as a sophomore, will be in the backfield. Branch, who gained 20 pounds in the off-season, could be "special" according to Pearlman. Josh Diaz should also see some action at running back.

Blocking up front is a group of seniors that Pearlman says are "best friends and hang together."

Timmy Shover and Matt Greenberg both started a year ago. Noah Ihde will be moving from wide receiver to offensive line while Jim Grady, Sam Yoshino along with sophomores Dan Gawron and Marshall Dyson and Boo Chahal.

"I love our offensive line, Pearlman said. "It is one of the strengths of our team. But you won't see our true offensive line until we get into the season because of some injuries."

Dennis Gouba, Dylan Draka, Allan Rodriguez, Dan Medina and Chung will rotate in at the defensive tackle spots on defense while Grady and Ihde will be at the end spots. Yoshino, Marty Falkiner and Mac Chung will be at linebacker in the 4-3 scheme.

Tyler Urban is the only returning starter in the secondary that will also have Matt Vollmer, Nick O'Brien and Charlie Zettek.

"I like the way our kids play defense," Pearlman said. "It just will come down to game one, and I will find out a lot about that defense."

But before any of the whispers can begin to build, the Wildcats need to get off to a good start against Mundelein.

"Our guys did an incredible job in the off-season," Pearlman said. "Their commitment was extremely high. We are looking forward to a great year."

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