VACAVILLE — The 2013 Will C. Wood football team is banking on experience.
The Wildcats, coming off a 5-5 campaign in 2012, including a winning mark of 3-2 in the Monticello Empire League, return nine starters on offense and another five on defense.
“Obviously, any time you have guys with experience, it’s important,” Wood coach Carlos Meraz said. “Anytime you have guys with experience, it makes a huge difference.
“Having experience makes a big difference, players that have been on the field before. They know what the demands are.”
Key players back for the Wildcats on offense include Tyler Bailey (QB), Aaron Herbert (WR/QB), Ryan Nules (TE), Desmond McIver (WR), Roddrick Douglas (WR), Damon Gidron (WR), Trevor McKenzie (OL), Andrew Galvin (OL) and Jalen Soto (OL).
Starters returning on defense for Wood are McIver (DB), Tim Beall (DB), Herbert (LB), Nules (DL) and Derrick Diaz (DL).
McIver, Herbert and Ryan Nules were both all-MEL selections from a season ago, while Zach Nulls, McKenzie and Beall received honorable mention.
Since taking over the Wood program in 2010, Meraz is 15-16 and 7-8 in the MEL, with one playoff appearance in 2010, a 54-10 loss to Grant of Sacramento.
The Wildcats haven’t won a playoff game since 1996, a 27-7 victory over Turlock, the only postseason win in school history. Wood was 9-3 that season, including a 6-1 mark in the MEL, under coach Tim Galli.
Along with some key players back, Meraz also listed his team’s speed as another positive for Wood.
“That’s is out biggest asset,” Meraz said. “We run a spread offense, trying to make people cover the entire field. That’s to our advantage, trying to make guys (take up the whole field).”
One of the other things Meraz is looking at is the addition of the newcomers moving up to the varsity.
“It remains to be seen,” the coach said. “After playing JV and freshman, it’s a big jump (to varsity). Things are looking pretty good. We are optimistic. If we stay healthy, we should be OK.”
One of the things Meraz is concerned about is the lack of depth below all the experience he has.
“Right now, we’re a small school in this area, under 1,500 kids,” Meraz said. “Our biggest issue is depth. We’re not real big on depth.”
Meraz added that his team needs to learn to play in big games and “continue to build as a team.”
That building will start Friday when the Wildcats open their season at American Canyon at 7:30 p.m.
Reach Brian Arnold at 427-6969 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/barnolddr.