Turning the page of a new playbook

A wide range of changes within the Wildcat’s football program


Lauren Dell

Wildcats storm the new turf field ready to take on the new season, Aug 21.

The Young Buck

The football season is underway after months of coaching turmoil left by the previous regime.

Mr. Jacob Sumner, head coach, has taken the reigns and is ready to continue the football program.

“Since I was a little boy I’ve watched EHS football and watching all the great coaches roll through here and making the tradition what it is today,” Sumner said. “I’ve watched them all over the years and to be able to have this role is just real humbling and I fully expect myself to continue this tradition of excellence.”

After finally deciding to leave for Kirkwood, Mr. Farrell Shelton, former head coach, left EHS with a short window of time in May to choose a new head coach for the upcoming fall season.

“Coach Shelton took so long to actually say he was leaving,” Cole Reat, varsity DE, OL, LB said. “Once he did, they really got the process rolling and really took a good but quick amount of time to choose Sumner.”

Landing the job was not an easy task. In the 10 days the job was posted, the administration collected nine qualified applications, according to Dr. Jason Green, activities director.

The position was posted as soon as the administration got the final word that Coach Shelton was going to be leaving. Dr. Green then compiled committees of parents, students and coaches. The parents, coaches and Dr. Green were on one committee, and the students and principals were on the other.

After the the committees met and narrowed down the candidates, the administration thoroughly questioned the finalists for two to three hours before finalizing their selection.

“Dr. Green would question them on their expertise, brought them through situations and asked them what they would do in different circumstances and really went in depth about the game of football itself,” Mrs. Deborah Asher, retired principal said. “He also talked about the community and their philosophy with working with people. So it was a very quick but in-depth process with a lot of input from a lot of different people.”

After choosing Coach Sumner for the job, the administration and coaching staff had to focus on making the adjustments needed to get ready for the upcoming season.

Despite the abrupt transition from coach to coach, Sumner has made it easy.

“It’s been a pretty seamless transition from my point of view,” Dr. Green said. “We’ve kept a lot of things in-house and have added some outside pieces to the mix, but the ways we go about (football is) still pretty much the way we have been doing things.”

Tackling the transition was a huge task, but based on the victorious results of the first game, it would appear that it has been a successful one.

As for the tradition of excellence of the football program, players and coaches have the faith that it will continue with the new staff.

“We will live up to the tradition here at EHS,” Sam Oligschlaeger, varsity offensive tackle, said. “We will continue the legacy of the great football program here.”

Coach Sumner is certainly off to an exciting start, after the dominating victory over Lafayette in his head coaching debut, Aug. 21.

Money Mike

With the high expectations for the coaching staff, comes high expectations for Michael (Mike) Orso, varsity quarterback.

“I’ve got big expectations for Mike. We ask our quarterbacks to do a lot and being a junior he’s stepped up to the plate and done everything we’ve asked of him so far,” Sumner said. “Moving forward I think he’s only going to get better. He’s only going to understand the game of football more, and he’s done a great job of getting himself prepared and I don’t think that will change.”

With his first season as the starter, Orso has something most quarterbacks don’t get: two seasons at the helm.

Andy Coulter and Brett Geisz, class of 2015, only had one year so they only got one shot, unlike me because I’m blessed to get two. I’m going to do the most I can this year but knowing I’m going to be back next year and have an opportunity to come back and compete is great.” Orso said.

Players and coaches all have confidence in Orso’s ability to handle the pressure of running the offense.

“Michael Orso is a talented player, he’s a good kid and he’s a smart kid. I believe he’ll make the right plays when it comes to Friday nights” Reat said.

Senior leaders have made sure that Orso is comfortable with his role.

Cameron Nisbet, wide receiver, among others, has made sure that he is in the right mindset on and off the field.

“It all comes with a lot of hanging out outside of football and making sure he is comfortable with us and making sure he knows were going to make him look good out there,” Nisbet said. “If Mike is as comfortable as possible then the better he will do.”

Orso proved just that. Throwing for three touchdowns and rushing for another, he stepped up and delivered on the big stage against Lafayette.

With the rushing attack powered by Hassan Haskins, running back, rushing for 254 yards, Orso stepped up and delivered the knockout touchdown blows that ultimately led EHS to victory.

With the big lights shining, Orso silenced all the doubters.

Showing poise in the pocket and calmness under fire from the pass rush, Orso delivered perfect passes that only his receivers could catch.

Finishing the game with three TD’s through the air and a rushing one to ice the cake.

The future seems bright for the quarterback position.

The Great Wall of Seniors

Orso is not the only position under pressure from high expectations this year; the offensive line is the subject of major hype around school.

“There definitely are some big expectations for the O-line this year, and we plan to go out there and prove how good we are, do the best we can and just show everyone that we started last year for a reason,” Tanner Sobotka, varsity guard, said.

The line is anchored by Brennen DeLaney, center; Tanner Sobotka and Adam Biles, guards; Sam Oligschlaeger and Austin Crump, tackles; and Cole Reat, guard and tackle.

All are coming in this year with experience as starters on the line, with the exception of Biles.

In his first start, Biles proved his value to the team by stepping up on the left side of the line opening up holes for several big runs.

Protecting the young quarterback is at the front of their minds on the O-line.

“You obviously want to protect your quarterback as much as you can.” Oligschlaeger said. “As the offensive line you want to protect him from taking big hits and taking shots back there, especially when he’s a junior without much varsity playing time.”

While protecting the quarterback is first in terms of priority, proving themselves is also at the top of their list. The expectations they put on themselves are just as high as the expectations of others.

“I expect us to do our job and more. I expect us to make our plays on the line and then hurry our way down field to make lead blocks and get the big plays you see on the highlight reels,” Reat said. “As a senior group we need to be a leadership group and be a group that all the team can look at and play towards being like.”

Being behind the great wall of seniors is something Orso does not take for granted.

“Having the big guys up front is huge for me,” Orso said. “They are all just so physical it makes my job a lot easier.”

Judging by the first game against Lafayette, Orso can utilize the line as well as appreciate them.

While not giving up any sacks, the line also opened up huge holes for the running backs and wide receivers, helping EHS cruise to victory.

Turf Transition

With the new season, coach, and quarterback comes another recent addition to the football program: the field.

After the bond issue passed, April 7, one of the top priorities was getting new turf fields placed in all high schools.

While only having five months to get the new turf installed, the football team was lucky enough to get the turf finalized just days before the game.

“Getting the new turf was great, but we haven’t really been able to play on it until yesterday, Aug 19,” Joshua Flores, varsity wide receivers coach. “But you could tell the kids moved faster than on the concrete practice field we’ve been using.”

The field might not have much practice on it, but it certainly will be an asset in the future.

“The best part about the turf is that whether it’s raining, frozen or muddy outside and on grass, the field will always stay the same,” Coach Luke Thuston, varsity outside linebacker coach, said. “So there really is no adjusting needed with the turf, rather you never have to adjust the game plan.”

Now that the turf is finally ready for play, the Wildcats certainly used it as effectively as possible with little practice time Friday night, stomping the Lancers into the brand new surface.

With all the changes that have been made this year: new coach, new starting quarterback, new seniors and new turf, the Wildcat football program has quite a season ahead of them.