By Steve Peterson
Ready to make another playoff run is a good way to sum up Akron-Westfield’s football team in 2014.
“The team energy has been off the charts. There has been a great work ethic, and we’re right where we want to be,” said A-W Head Coach Eric Walkingstick.
Walkingstick is in his fourth year as leader of the Westerners after coaching high school football at two Oklahoma schools. A-W has won 23 football games since Walkingstick came to Akron.
“We have had guys step up and give us some depth. The seniors are great leaders and the attitudes have been great,” said Walkingstick.
“Play as a team, grow every game and (play) in the Dome,” said Walkingstick.
A-W has more than 50 players on its varsity roster as of the fourth day of practice, all working hard to bring back the squad to playoff contention after a 4-5, 2-5 district mark in 2013.
Gearing up for the goal of getting better every week has included some fun, too: a paint ball exercise; a jog up the hill to A-W and a car wash. There have been several passing leagues and a trip to Kansas City, Mo., for a National Guard seven-on-seven competition.
In the backfield starters include quarterback sophomore Cal Eskra; running backs senior Kevin Carlson who won Second Team All-District last year; senior Devon Myers who won Honorable Mention All-District; and several backs in a rotation that are playing well, said Walkingstick.
Wide receivers include sophomores Austin Allard, Aaron Allard, Caleb Colt and Dylan Irizarry.
Linemen include seniors Seth Klemme and Dylan Blinde and juniors Andy Bowman, Spenser Wardrip and Tommy Toben.
“As far as the district goes, every coach goes in with big expectations. We have tremendous expectations, and we won’t settle for anything less than being perfect and each week is the most important week,” said Walkingstick.
Even as early as late winter, one knew it was Hinton as the first foe, as the school’s name was written on a piece of equipment in the weight room.
A-W’s assistant coaches this year are Jeff Wolthuizen and Kent Johnson. Volunteer coaches are Ryan Bergman, Brent James, Dan Tindall and Darwin Kluender.
A-W opens the season Saturday, Aug. 30 in a CNOS Classic game against Hinton at Morningside College. Game time is 4 p.m.