Young Wildcats looking to improve this season

Chris Jackett
August 23, 2012
Reprinted with permission of the Novi News


Although the seniors will lead Novi's football team this fall, many will be stepping into starting roles for the first time alongside a young core of Wildcats.
 
Following a 4-5 campaign in 2011, the Wildcats have a new line of wide receivers and a brand new quarterback in senior Ryan Caputo, who will make his debut at the position tonight against former KVC rival Brighton.
 
“He's never played football,” said Novi coach Todd Pennycuff, who enters his third year at the helm. “He's a senior and came out and won the starting job over two juniors and a sophomore. He's going to be raw. He gets better every day. He's a hard working and very intelligent kid.”
 
Caputo, a baseball star for the Wildcats, is expected to make his debut with three of the team's top six wide receivers sidelined by injuries.
 
“We have a lot of receivers,” Pennycuff said. “We're basically going to be very young. We're going to be a little young and we have a lot of injuries. Our top four kids are out.”
 
Seniors Grant Wheeler, Matt Forche, Brandon Macklin, Blake Boron, Robie Deighton and Craig Lathum are expected to carry form the receiving core once Wheeler, Forche and Macklin return from injury.
 
“(Macklin is) probably the most improved kid we have, if not the most improved kid I've ever seen,” Pennycuff said. “Blake Boron's our top kid. He's got to play top notch and be a leader on our team offensively and defensively (as a cornerback). We're probably going to be starting three sophomores and a freshman.
 
Pennycuff said senior Lucas Buck would also be a big piece of the team this season on both ends of the ball as both the top running back and an inside linebacker. Forche will offer complimentary running back duties.
 
“On defense, we're really counting on Lucas Buck,” said Pennycuff, who coached Buck as a freshman at South Lyon East before both joined Novi's program. “He's really turned into a real team player.”
 
The rest of the defense will feature a lot of youth with some key multi-year players graduating last spring.
 
“Our defensive line is going to be new. Our secondary is going to be new,” Pennycuff said. “We're probably playing more young kids than anyone else in the division. We're going to experience some growing pains.”
 
Pennycuff said his team wouldn't be back to full health until the sixth game, leaving little room for error by the youngsters and new quarterback, not to mention the need for the rest of the team to avoid further injury.

2012 Novi Wildcats Preview

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Head coach: Todd Pennycuff, 3rd year (9-9)

Last year: 4-5, did not make playoffs

Staff: Chris Hare, Dave Ray, Sean McHugh, Kenneth Nelson, Rand Helmcamp, Tab Longergan, Greg VanKirk.

Best players: Sr. WR Brian Boron (5-8, 175); Sr. WR Matt Forche (6-1, 190); Sr. RB Lucas Buck (6-1, 200); Sr. OL Kameron Mitchell (6-2, 250); Sr. WR Brandon Macklin (6-2, 170); Jr. OL Bepin Serraj (6-2, 280).

Strengths: Skill positions.

Weaknesses: Size, inexperience at QB

Overview: The Wildcats have been agonizingly close to playoff appearances the past two years, so as always they should be in the mix to earn a postseason spot this year. There aren’t a lot of blue-chippers on the roster, so if Novi gets to the playoffs, it’ll be through a team concept where everyone contributes.