August 25, 2011 by wcobserver
By Brent Harrison
WEST FORK – Despite the loss of twenty two seniors off last years’ squad (11-3) that saw its season end with a 17–14 loss in the state Semi-finals to Rivercrest, coach Rodney Selph will look for strength in numbers and experience to propel this year’s addition of Tiger football.
“We did lose a good group of seniors last year but we feel like like we have a good group coming back,” Selph said. “We have forty (players) out (football) and hopefully that will give us some depth. We’ve had a really good couple of weeks of practice. We have a lot of enthusiasm and some players that got a lot of good playing time last year.”
“We have Wil Jarnagan, Dylan Harrison, Jamie Wiltse and Chris Worley coming back after starting for us last year.,” he said.”We also have a lot of guys returning that played a lot. Craig Brannan and Eli Priest got a lot of playing time, so we think we return a pretty good nucleus.”
Overshadowed at times last year by All-State performer Logan Genz, Jarnagan (5-10, 180) returns in West Forks’ Wing T formation. The senior rambled for over 1,400 yards and 18 touchdowns.
“Wil is strong, fast and runs a 4.6 (40),” Selph said. “He bench presses 300 pounds. We’re looking for more leadership out of Wil this year. We expect him to be the one that gets the bulk of the carries.”
Jarnagan demonstrated that he is capable of the big game out of the backfield in week seven of last year. He rushed for 248 on 28 carries against Green Forest last season with Genz sidelined with an injury.
Harrison (5-11, 170) returns for his senior season after quietly throwing for a 1,000 plus yards last season and 16 touchdowns last year.
“Dylan flew under the radar a little bit last year,” Selph said of his QB. “He threw it well we just didn’t throw it eighteen times a game. We told him we were looking for quality not quantity. We’re going to put a little more on his shoulders this year. I expect him to run the ball a little more, I won’t say we will throw it more but he is very capable if we do. He’s a good leader in the huddle, he is very good at making sure we are in the right play.”
When Harrison is looked upon to put the ball in the air, one of his main targets may be his tight end. Sheldon Gaesswitz (6-1, 170) in all probability will take over for graduated Logan Lichty after taking the field only on defense last year.
“In the Wing T, (tight end) is one of our main targets,” he said. “We have Brett Nay (5-10, 155) playing wingback. Brett has good speed and catches the ball pretty well.”
At the receivers spot the Tigers will go with Wiltse (5-6, 125) and Brandin Fry (5-11, 150).
“Fry may be our fastest kid,” Selph said. “He’s a good 4.6 (40) guy who is rangy and can really go get it. I feel like we have guys capable of catching the football.”
West Fork’s senior exodus may be felt most in the trenches.
Only Worley (5-11, 205) returns as a fulltime starter off last year’s squad. Although Priest (5-10, 180) played virtually the entire contest against Rivercrest.
“We lost five of our six starters on the line to graduation,” he said. “Worley and Priest return at guards, Gaesswitz has moved to tight end and had a great summer for us. We’ve got some young guy: Kallin Stokes (6-0, 240) is a sophomore that we think has a lot of potential. We also have Matthew Canfield (5-11, 215) and Wyatt Simco 5-11, 175), these guys are juniors and are doing a good job. We feel like we’re going to be alright up there and get better as the year goes on.”
On the defensive side of the ball, Worley will be a leader. He recorded 16.1/2 sacks last year. He had four of those in the Tigers 27-7 win in the State Quarter-finals at Glen Rose.
“He does more than have sacks,” Selph said of Worley. “He makes tackles, plays really fast and has a motor that never quits.”
Behind its first line of defense, West Fork will put an experienced group of linebackers on the field.
Genz’s 139 tackles from his middle linebacking spot grabbed the headlines, but Jarnagan recorded ninety stops from his outside spot. When Genz was sidelined, Jarnagan stepped into the middle and the drop off was at a minimum.
“Wil played our Mike (Middle) linebacker when Logan got hurt and we didn’t drop off that much.
“Priest got a lot of playing time at linebacker last year,” he said. “We have some experience at the middle linebacker spot.”
Selph said Wiltse and Fry bring athletism and experience to the secondary.
“Wiltse started 11 games at safety and had a couple of interceptions,” Selph said.”He did a good job of getting us in the right coverages. He’s not a big kid but does a really good job of tackling. We also have Fry back there.”
Harrison, Graham Klemmedson (5-9, 160) and Dylan Clayton will look to help. The trio will be looking to take over where senior Griff Smith manned the position last year.
Smith, was also automatic on PATs last season. Selph said Jarnagan will attempt to solidify things there.
“If we can’t find someone we’ll lineup and go for two each time,” he said. “Wil Jarnagan has stepped in and I think he can do the job.”
Selph said as far as doing what they need to do the Tigers are preparing well for the task at hand.
“These guys come to work and work hard every day,” he said. “Their attitudes have been great, they want to go out and win another conference title. That’s what everyone wants to do in the league and we are no different.”
After going to the road in the early stages of last year, the Tigers won’t have to travel to a hostile environment until September, 30 when they make the short trip to Greenland. The Tigers will travel to Ozark to play defending 2A Champion Magazine in the Hooten’s Kickoff Classic on August, 30 at 7:30 p.m..
Selph said tickets can be purchased at West Fork High School for seven dollars. Or call 839-3773 for further information.
For those who want an early preview, West Fork and Gentry will scrimmage in Gentry August, 23 at 5:30 p.m.