There were winning expectations last season, even though the Watkins Mill High School football team had to replace more than two-thirds of its starting lineup. The 7-3 season the Wolverines had the previous season, nearly qualifying for the playoffs, raised the bar at the Montgomery Village school.
But with only seven returning starters, last season was more of the same; Watkins Mill finished 4-6 — its 10th losing season in the past 12 years.
Led by fourth-year coach Kevin Watson, the Wolverines are working this summer to get back to .500 or better. But once again, they will have to do so with a mostly new lineup. Watkins Mill has only four returning starters on offense and four on defense as a result of graduations and transfers, and those that are back will take on new, expanded roles, rising senior Isaiah Offutt said.
“We just got to play as a family and work hard. We can do it,” said Offutt, who expects to play cornerback, receiver and running back.
Three of Watkins Mill's top players transferred to The Avalon School, including quarterback Joseph Maddox, All-Gazette honorable mention returner Jaron Woodyard and Daqwan Hill.
“I can't really do anything about that but all we got to do is get [tougher],” Offutt said. “I told everybody we got to step up and play more explosively, and play as a team. We can't let that bother us and get to us.”
Quarterback Delonte Powell, who tore his anterior cruciate ligament in his only start last season, is competing with junior varsity quarterback Leo Molina for the starting job. Whoever wins it will have plenty of speed to work with. Several Watkins Mill players were on the track and field team — where Watson is an assistant coach — including receiver/safety Gradi Tshilombo, who runs a 4.50-second 40-yard dash, according to the recruiting website Hudl.com.
Two-way linemen Luke Moon and Cain Mullens, both seniors, are expected to take on key roles, Watson said.
The Wolverines were inconsistent last season, averaging 32 points in their four victories but scoring 13 points combined in their six losses, including four shutouts. After a five-game losing streak, they ended their season with victories against Northwood and Albert Einstein.
Watkins Mill, which hasn't qualified for the postseason since 1999, is scheduled to begin its season Sept. 5 against Frederick.