Are you ready for some football?! Western style

By Albert Shelby

April 3, 2014

Spring practice for football kicked off on March 26, and I can't help but be excited about some of the unknowns heading into the 2014 season. The Griffons finished last season with an 8-3 record, losing three of their last four games, all to conference foes. The team may be eager to get back on the field after a mediocre season, and missing the playoffs after a stellar 2012 campaign. With Travis Partridge graduating, the quarterback position is wide open now. Three candidates have already started the quarterback battle, and all three are pretty talented. Northwest transfer Nate Wilson played valuable back-up minutes for Partridge a year ago. He knows the playbook, and he has a little experience that could be the determining factor if he becomes the starter this year. TJ LaFaver fits the style of quarterback that Western has had under center for the past five years. He is a mobile and athletic player with a quick release. History has shown us that a quarterback with LaFaver’s skill set is someone who can lead a team, which is heavy on running the ball. I see LaFaver as a game manager that can be a threat from the air and ground. Western has been one of the top rushing programs in the MIAA for quite some time now, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. LaFaver fits the Griffons system perfectly. He is an athletic kid who could work well with returning running back Ralphael Spencer. If LaFaver wins the starting job before the beginning of the season, he won’t disappoint. He will have some growing pains throughout the year, but he might have the best chance at leading this team back to the playoffs. Skyler Windmiller also has chance to open some eyes during spring practice. Windmiller seems to be a good leader and might even have the stronger arm when compared to Western's other prospects. Now, whoever gets the quarterback spot will not have any problem with their core receivers. Since I have been a student at Western, this may be the deepest, and overall most talented core of receivers that program has to offer. They all have good size, speed, and, most importantly, they have experience.  At the beginning of last season, it seemed that Partridge had to develop chemistry with his receivers because both the one and the two were new starters. That shouldn't be too much of a problem this year. Stephon Weaver, Dee Toliver and Josh Walker should all have breakout seasons. They have the talent, but they must be consistent this year, considering that they will ultimately have a new gunslinger throwing them the ball. With Spencer in the backfield for another season, the Griffons are poised to have another great offensive season. Each year, Spencer has grown as a running back in the MIAA, and I do not see a drop-off from him any time soon. Defensively, once again, the Griffons are deep at the linebacker position. Inside backer Yomi Ali will return and anchor that position. A year ago, the defensive line seemed to be a talented group, but they lacked in experience. Expect a big improvement from a very dynamic group up front for the upcoming year. Defensive back Michael Jordan has been the leader in the secondary for Western, and that will probably be his role until he graduates. Jordan’s size and covering ability makes him one of the most intriguing players on Western’s defense. Looks like Sam Brown will be on the other side of him, and Brown fits the secondary perfectly. He is a long kid with a lot of length and will help the defense tremendously with his hitting ability. Football season is approaching, and let’s hope most predictions will become a reality when the season kicks-off.