RICHMOND — Edison enters this season coming off just its second playoff appearance in school history, but, the team will have a new look this season.
Mike Collopy, Edison’s longtime baseball head coach, has taken over the reins from Shane O’Brien, who guided his alma mater for three seasons.
Collopy is the program’s eighth head coach since 1999, and he looks to bring some stability to the program.
“You try to learn from the past, but you don’t want to live in it,” he said. “You want to take the good from the past, and you want to try and fix the bad things. You have to move on.”
The Wildcats began last season by winning three out of their first four games before ending on a disappointing note at 4-6.
“I thought we handled it great,” Collopy said. “We played a whole season. We had no pauses. That is a credit to the kids. Everyone did what they were supposed to do. We had some young guys playing last year, and they were able to gain experience. Whatever happens, happens. We will deal with it.”
The Wildcats took part in some passing scrimmages, as well as some regular scrimmages in preparation for the regular season.
“Passing scrimmages are what they are,” Collopy said. “I thought we competed in the ones we had. I was disappointed with some things, but passing scrimmages are what they are. Football is meant to be in pads. Our backs and receivers were able to work on some things. On the defensive side of the ball, our linebackers were running around. They were not backpedaling. As far as the passing scrimmages go, we got accomplished what we tried to get accomplished.”
The Wildcats were a young team last season and only lost six seniors. They have 52 players on the roster this season. That number is up from what it has been.
“Every year you get kids back out who have played before,” Collopy said. “We are excited to have this many kids. We just want to get better every day.”
There are 12 seniors on the roster this season. The biggest class is the sophomore class with 17.
“We are going to put forth a product that the school and the community can get behind,” Collopy said.
Junior Gage Cline will be the team’s starting quarterback this season.
Junior Ethan Waggoner will be the team’s starting tailback. Sophomores Talan McClurg and Mason Eisnaugle also will get some carries. Senior Jadyen Colley will start at fullback, and he will be backed up by sophomore Caiden Cooley.
Seniors Jacob Cusick and Tyler Griffith will start at wide receiver. Cusick will be backed up by sophomores Chase McClurg and Dawson Jones, along with senior Tyler Petrey. Griffith will be backed up by juniors Decker Lancaster and Cole Jackson, sophomore Deacon Rawson and senior Grady Board. Junior Matt Parsons will start at tight end, and he will be backed up by senior Dakota Coil and junior Kaleb Whitmore.
The Wildcats have an experienced group up front on the offensive line.
Senior Hunter Russell will start at left tackle, and he will be backed up by junior Blaze Maisa. Senior Kolten Hanlin will serve as the team’s left guard. Junior Isaac Firm will man the center position. Senior Jonah Snyder will be the team’s starting right guard, and he will be backed up by sophomore Joey Simpson. Senior Nathan Black will handle the right tackle duties, and he will be backed up by junior Jamison Stiles.
The offensive lineman also will be key contributors on the defensive line.
Firm will be the defensive end of the left side of the line, while Hanlin and Simpson will start at defensive tackle. Hanlin will be backed up by senior Hunter Cronin and Maisa, while Simpson will be backed up by Stiles and Snyder. Parsons will be the defensive end on the right side, and he will be backed up by Russell.
Wright and McClurg will start at outside linebacker, while Waggoner will be the team’s middle linebacker. Eisnaugle will back up Wright on the outside, and sophomore Lane Waggoner will back up Ethan Waggoner in the middle.
Griffith and Cline will start on the outside at cornerback. Griffith will be backed up by junior Ethan Wedlake and Petrey. Cline will be backed up by Lancaster and Board.
Sophomore Chase McClurg will start at strong safety, and he will be backed up by Jones and Jackson. Cusick will start at free safety, and he will be backed up by Jones and Rawson.
Sophomore Mason Montgomery returns to handle the kicking duties, but the battle at punter has not yet been decided. Wright will serve as the long snapper with a holder to be determined. Griffith and Cusick will return kicks and punts. Griffith is the team’s top kick returner, while Cusick is the team’s No. 1 punt returner.
“Our goal as a team is to be fundamentally sound, disciplined and physical on both sides of the ball,” Collopy said. “We want to be extremely competitive every single play. If we do that, we will be in good shape. Winning is not easy, but if we do those things, we will give ourselves a chance.
“As coaches, we have to do a good job. Our kids will do anything we ask of them. We are going to do our best to give us the best chance to win. If we do that, we will be right in the mix.”
A large number of players also are battling to see time on the field this season. Senior Justin Palmer (OL/DL), and juniors Corey Hendrickson (WR/DB) and Jadyn Clancey (OL/DL) are the three oldest players looking to contribute, while the rest are freshmen and sophomores. The freshmen looking for some time are Jack VanGosen (WR/DB), Adam Dinger (WR/DB), Cole Pittman (QB/WR/DB), Austin Spriner (RB/LB), Joey Firm (RB/LB), Tanner Waggoner (OL/DL), Jason Phillips (OL/DL), Zac Kuntz (OL/DL), Hunter Thompson (OL/DL), Tyler Mattern (OL/DL) and Gabe Glenn (OL/DL). The sophomores in the mix are Logan Pittman (WR/DB), Alex Russell (TE/DE), Kameron Wright (OL/DL), Nolan Corder (OL/DL), Zach Evans (OL/DL), Jacob Roth (OL/DL), James Behnske (OL/DL) and Ian Reed (TE/DE).
Collopy has not made any wholesale changes, but the Wildcats will be doing some different things out on the field.
“We took what we did well scheme-wise, and we are going to keep adding new things,” Collopy said. “We want to be consistent year to year. We didn’t want to put the kids in a position of having to learn a brand new system. We wanted to keep things consistent. Stability is a hell of a thing. You look at the program that are good year in and year out, and they are consistent. We are going to try and do the best we can. We want to put the kids in position to do their best.”
Collopy believes in the same things when it comes to coaching on the diamond and on the gridiron.
“The sport doesn’t really matter,” he said. “It is true of all sports. I want to be aggressive, disciplined, physical, competitive and fundamentally sound. Football is a physical game. You have to be tough. Tough is another word. You want to set goals that are reachable. In order to be a playoff team, you have to have a playoff mentality. You have to have a championship mindset every day. It is simple, but it is the most difficult thing to do. You want to get better every day, but that is difficult to do over a long season. Championship teams are consistent. You have to take care of the little things on both sides of the ball. If you do that, you give yourself a chance. If we do what we need to do, we will have a chance.”
Edison’s seniors are the leaders of the team. Eight of them — Cusick, Griffith, Hanlin, Russell, Snyder, Cronin, Coil and Wright — have played all four years.
“Our seniors have developed good leadership skills. They are good kids. They are not real vocal. I would rather have kids lead by action. I would rather them show it than say it. We are real proud of them for what they have done this year and for what they did last year. They have shown a lot of maturity. As a head coach, you see that year to year. They have done a good job.”
The Wildcats made some changes to their schedule for this season.
“Our schedule is our schedule,” Collopy said. “We play 10 very good teams. We are just focused on the present. As it gets closer to Week 1, we will turn our attention to Southern Local. We will do what we have to do to prepare for that game.”
Edison is scheduled to open up the season against Southern Local at 7 p.m. Friday. It will be the first football game on the turf field at the high school.
“We have a jumbotron and a scoreboard,” Collopy said. “The stadium is beautiful. The new facility brings a lot of excitement. Everyone is excited. We have a great school district. Every year, we are one of the best if not the best academically. You add to that the support of athletics. The complex looks like a college complex. We have all turf fields for softball and baseball with lights. For football, we have a concession stand, locker room and restrooms. It is phenomenal.”