Head Coach: Phil Mason, 26-11 in fourth year at Michigan City and 192-72 in 19th year overall
Staff: Ken Bye, P.J. Mason, John Maurek, Roy Richards, Brett St. Germain, Tom Trapana, Colin Yarnelle.
Last year: 10-3 (6-1 Duneland Athletic Conference), Class 5A sectional and regional champions.
Basic Formations: Spread offense, 4-2 defense.
Returning starters: 10 (4 offense/6 defense)
Key losses: RB Lyric McFarrin; DL Royce Robinson Jr., LB Chase Triplett; QB Bryce Hayman; WR Zennon Wilhelm; WR Tyler Siegmund; OL Ryan Stefanko; OL Andrue Shanks; TE/DE Justin Wozniak.
Key returners: QB Michael Bradford, Jr.; LB Marquan Hurt, Sr.; DB Brian Walker, Sr.; WR Kaydarious Jones, Jr.; LB Nate Ware, Sr.; LB Robert Jefferson, Sr.; WR Demetrius Garrett, Sr.; DL Ernest Frierson, Sr.; DB Antonio Conley; Sr.; DB Kejuan Rufus, Sr.
Key newcomers: RB Jonathon Flemings, Jr.; QB Giovani Laurent, Jr.; RB Lovell Sanders Jr. Jr.; OL Mikye Williams, Jr.;
Outlook: City graduated a lot of juice on both sides of the ball, a package of speed, skill, size and strength that was the backbone of consecutve regional championships. In many cases, those losses would result in a rebuilding year, but it's a distinct possibilty that the Wolves may not miss a beat. "Are we going to average 44 points a game?" Mason said. "Probably not but I still think you better not get in a track meet with us. We're a little younger, but our skill is really good. We're going to go through some growing pains, make some mistakes, but we're just so athletic. If the right kids are working hard in the right places, we'll be all right."
Bradford's future is at tailback, where Mason expects the 220-pounder to draw Big Ten offers, but good runners are so abundant with the likes of Flemings and Sanders that he has Bradford behind center so they don't have to rush Laurent along. "Running back is a real solid position," Mason said. "It's always going to be. Michael's a big, strong kid. He's a tailback playing quarterback but he throws well. Gio is a really talented kid. He's close. He's going to play. He's not a backup. We'll just take our time with him and make sure we put him in the right situations. We could do that right now. If for some reason Mike is struggling, we won't hesitate at all, not one bit, just to change things up. It's just packaged a little differently for each kid."
Mason rates Garrett as a D-I receiver and Davis could be. "They're fantastic," he said. "We've got to get the ball in their hands." The line is described as a huge concern. "We have to get the box under control," Mason said, knowing that's where DAC and now sectional obstacle Valpo's strength lies on defense. "We're young, light, but quick and very hard-working." Mason recently moved the 300-pound Wlliams to offense to bolster the line, and the addition of Reginald McKinney, a move-in from Wheaton, Ill., who weighs 290, was most welcome. McKinney will become eligible next week.
On defense, Frierson anchors an otherwise young front. "We're small, but super physical," Mason said, "They'll be pretty solid. They had a great summer." Experience is aplenty in the back seven with Hurt, Ware, Walker, Jefferson and Conley all fast ball hawks. "It's great having the back end of the defense back," Mason said. "Those kids are really good players. They've got to go against our skill players every day, and it makes better."
The DAC and Sectional 9 sure look like two-team races with the rest of the packs seemingly far back. While Mason doesn't refute that notion, he knows he can't put a whole season into two weeks, the week four regular-season meeting with the nemesis Vikings and the probable rematch in the first or second week of the sectional. Barring unforeseen circumstances, it will be an upset if the Wolves lose any other games, though it is high school sports and strange things happen with teenage kids. Leadership and the right combination of confidence and hunger will be critical for City to aspire to the same heights of success, if not more."I like where we're at," Mason said. "We've just got to come ready to play. We know teams are gunning for us. I'll say this, I think whoever comes out of our sectional has one heck of a chance."
-- compiled by Jim Peters