The Westhill football team is setting modest goals for the upcoming season, focusing on each step ahead of them rather than looking too far in front of themselves.
With a new coach and only four players back after losing a season to the pandemic, it is the only approach the Vikings can take.
“We say get one percent better every day and that’s what we are pushing for so we can get ready for the season,” senior tight end/linebacker Sam Engel said. “We are just trying to work hard every day and improve for the season. We want to get better every step we can.”
The Vikings joined the 28 other teams this past weekend at the Grip it and Rip it 7-on-7 Tournament in New Canaan.
It gave Westhill an opportunity to play against live competition and to start evaluating which younger players will be joining the players returning to the varsity.
The evaluations over the weekend included getting to see young quarterbacks competing for the starting job.
“For quarterback, we have a few young guys we are considering,” first-year Westhill coach Aland Joseph said. “We have a sophomore and freshman but we are still evaluating. That’s another reason why this is a good opportunity to see what they can do in live competition. It’s hard to get live competition so anytime you can get it, we will take it.”
Engel said getting live action with both quarterbacks prior to the season can only help.
“Getting reps with the two quarterbacks is very valuable. We have two young quarterbacks who haven’t played any varsity reps. We are trying to build up a better connection with them,” Engel said. “We have a lot of guys who have taken on big leadership roles this year. There are a lot of guys who when we last played were sophomores who are coming out as leaders now.”
The Vikings will return three seniors who played as sophomores and one junior who played varsity as a freshman.
Along with Engel, Westhill is bringing back seniors in cornerback Ryan Ellis; linebacker Estuardo Diaz as well as junior running back David Moodie.
Joseph felt Moodie could have stepped into the spotlight his sophomore year after seeing varsity time as a freshman in 2019.
“He was a kid we were hoping to break out last year but it didn’t pan out, obviously,” Joseph said. “Hopefully this year will be his year. We try to get him the ball all over the place. He’s not just in the backfield, he will be out split too. We try to move him around and get the ball in his hands.”
Westhill will likely be switching to a quarterback under-center offense this year in hopes of establishing a running game and working the passing game off of that.
Joseph, a former running back himself at Trinity Catholic, feels Moodie is the perfect anchor for that offensive approach.
He added that Grip it and Rip it is the perfect way to start the process of building the team for the fall.
“You take the summer to find your leaders and figure out who is going to do what,” Joseph said. “You have vocal leaders and you have guys who will be your playmakers. Another reason we like being out here for 7-on-7 is we can identify who those guys will be.”
Joseph said based on offseason workouts and summer participation, things are looking up at Westhill though change will not happen overnight.
“The biggest thing I have seen from these guys so far is that they are coachable. For any coach, that’s what you want is guys that want to work hard,” Joseph said. “We are young and we are still trying to learn but when you have guys who want to learn, it makes it a lot easier. That’s one thing I am happy about. We have about 70 kids in our summer conditioning right now between varsity, JV and freshmen. That part of the offseason has been going great. They are showing up four days a week and we have been happy with the number of kids participating.”
The season officially kicks off with OTA’s from Aug. 12-14 and formal practices Aug. 21. Westhill’s first game is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 11 at home against Greenwich.