Eugene, Ore. -- 'Blitzing the Preseason' presented by Bi-Mart continued with some changes at the 5A and 6A levels, where the Willamette Wolverines are hoping there won't be any physical challenges stopping them from success in 2018.
"There is a big difference," says Willamette head coach Josh Wolfram. "Some people don't think so, but if you look at the depth of the rosters at the 6A vs. 5A level, a lot of the 6A schools still have three full programs, a lot of the 5A have two programs. At the 6A level it's jsut a little hard to put those 14-15 year old kids out on the field against 18 year old men."
Willamette high school football had depth problems in 2017 at the 6A level, which led to situations like forfeiting a game against Sheldon. But coach Josh Wolfram says the move to 5A will help quite a lot.
"I think as a depth for us we'll be able to play more kids and not have a safety be a factor for us so yeah should be a positive thing for Willamette."
The team motto is 'change the culture' and players see a change and that the move can help.
"I think we're a lot more confident this year moving down and I think it's more positive," explains senior Dylan Murray.
"They've been really coachable up to this point," Wolfram describes. "They've been working really hard. Our effort is much better across the board top to bottom which is a pleasant surprise from last year."
And with a lot of familiar faces in this new 5A league, the games will mean more too.
"I'm really looking forward to Friday nights when we play those crosstown rivals because it brings a lot more fans in the stands versus playing teams from four hours away. It just creates a great Friday night community event."
"I think it's gonna be a lot more equal, a lot of the other teams will be struggling with the same things we have at a smaller school like having kids out," Murray concludes.
The numbers are better for WillHi this year and time will tell if the Wolverines will find success.