CHAMPION, Ohio (WKBN) – Champion was just one win shy of making the playoffs last year, which would have snapped a 25-year post-season drought. This season, most of those kids are back and confidence is high that the streak is over.
“I feel like we’re at the top, really,” said Champion senior Austin Willforth. “I mean, we’re the team to knock off now. We’re the superior dog now but we have to play with a chip on our shoulder, too.”
Willforth will be wearing a target this season and he knows it. The Champion senior averaged over 116 yards per game last year. This season, he’s cut nearly 15 pounds in an attempt to add some elusiveness to his power running game.
“I wanted to gain speed, mainly,” Willforth said. “That was my biggest thing. I wanted to gain speed, but also keep my power and keep my strength, and be the third down back when I need to be but also be able to make people miss in the open field.”
Champion has more than 50 kids out for football this summer and 17 seniors on the roster. They return eight starters on both sides of the ball, so the numbers are great.
The game plan will be very similar to last year — run the ball.
Champion did it as well as anyone last year with Willforth leading the way. He carried the ball well over 200 times and is expected to put up big numbers again this season. But this year, it’s not about stats.
“Not really. It’s more team goals for me,” Willforth said. “Going to the playoffs would be awesome for us, for Champion. That’s kind of my main goal.”
“I think they grabbing the bull by the horn,” said Champion head coach Tim McGlynn. “They’re coming here every day and that’s their main goal. That’s why you’re here. That’s why you coach. You want to go to the playoffs, win or lose. Our big thing is we want to keep doing what we’re doing and keep making really good young men out of Champion kids, and just keep striving for what we’re doing.”