The West Valley High School football team begins its season tonight in Wasilla under the guidance of acting head coach Norm Davis, and with the help of some returning skill players. Davis said he thinks the team has a shot at a great season.
“We have a lot of great skill players this year who made a lot of great plays last year and I expect them to do the same this year — on the outside and in the backfield,” Davis said after Monday night’s practice.
“(Justin Cummings) is pretty good, we have a returning quarterback who had some experience last year and our line isn’t huge but they’re quick and they are agile. So I’m pretty excited all the way around.”
Cummings, a senior running back, strong safety and outside linebacker, agrees with his coach.
“I think we can be really good on this team actually. We have a lot of skill, for like running and passing and defense and just everything,” he said.
“I think all around we have players that are just really good at what they do,” Cummings said about the Wolfpack’s 47-man roster.
Quarterback Shaun Conwell will be leading the offense for the Wolfpack after beginning last season on the bench and earning the starting spot in the team’s last two games of 2019. Davis also described Conwell as a “natural leader.”
West Valley plays five nonconference games before it begins Division II Railbelt Conference play on Sept. 20 against the Palmer Moose. The team plays the North Pole Patriots on Sept. 27 and concludes the regular season Oct. 5 against crosstown rival Lathrop Malemutes.
When asked what his most anticipated matchup was, Cummings didn’t skip a beat.
“Lathrop. That’s just the game I really want to play because I’ve played with all those kids on that team my entire life, and that’s just going to be a fun game because there is a lot of trash talking,” Cummings said while smiling.
But the Wolfpack has seven matchups before it faces the Malemutes. For the team’s first game against the Warriors, Davis wants to focus on the fundamentals.
“Making sure that everybody meets their assignment,” he said, “so the blockers hit the guys they’re supposed to and the backs hit the holes, and if we do that and execute our plays properly, we will be competitive.”
Senior wide receiver and free safety Andrell Walker is also doing his part to help the younger West Valley players prepare for the first game.
“I always make sure they have the small details right,” Walker said. “Things from stances, where your hands are at, hand placement, feet movement, all of those things.”
The Wolfpack kick off their season against the Warriors at 7 p.m. today at Wasilla High School. West Valley plays its first home game Aug. 23 against the Soldotna Stars, the 11-time and defending Division II state champions.
Contact News-Miner sports writer Laura Stickells at 459-7530. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMsports.