“It’s always fun to get back out there and put the pads back on,” said Budde.
Budde has three seasons under his belt at Woodstock, but they haven’t been easy. River Ridge High School opened a little more than 5 miles down the road, cutting the school’s enrollment and turning a few potential Wolverines into Knights. The coach has seen the number of players who came out for the team fall from 100 during his first season to 60 in each of the last two years.
Still, he is optimistic.
“We’ve got a good group return and another good talented grouping coming up to be juniors, so we are excited about the possibilities,” Budde said. “We got new faces out there and some kids coming back to football, so that’s a good sign.”
Players are in tryout mode. Budde said that if players are going to move to new positions he likes to have that happen before the summer so that they are able to work out and train appropriately. When they return to practice for the fall, each of them will already know their place on the team.
“It’s definitely and open tryout right now,” said Budde. “We are moving some kids around from position to position to see where they kind of fit the team the best and what position fits them the best.”
One of those players, who is trying out some new positions is Alex Motsinger, who played quarterback for the final six games of last season.
Budde said Motsinger is one of the most athletic players on the team and has the ability to excel in nearly any role.
“He is a very, very talented kid,” said Budde. “He has good size and we just feel that defense is a better position for him to excel at and have a really good chance at playing at the next level.”
Woodstock returns the bulk of its defense, including five defensive backs, and some key players from the offense.
Linemen Blake Jacobs and Austin Biggers will return as seniors, as does Chris Mowery, a wide receiver and defensive back.
“I’m really excited about our defense and the troubles they will give teams,” said Budde. “We have the talent over there to be stingy on defense and keep up that tradition. It will just come down to the players executing.”
Justin Agner, who will be a junior, will return to his role at quarterback. He started the first four games last season before being replaced by Motsinger.
While Motsinger has been splitting his time between the offense and defense, Budde is open to having Motsinger return to the pocket full-time, should he earn the spot.
“It’s still a competition,” said Budde. “He is making the most of his limited time on the offensive side of the ball.”
Woodstock lost its first five games last season, before stringing together three victories. The Wolverines finished the season 3-7 — their worst record since going 0-10 in 2002. The coach doesn’t want another season like that one — or the one before for that matter, when the team went 4-6.
The Wolverines will be making the shift to a spread offense, which better suits their personnel.
“It fits the kids we have,” said Budde. “Every offense can be successful it is what your kids can execute. We have some small quick slot receivers, who are going to have a physical mismatch if they are going to try to block a linebacker, but the linebacker will have a mismatch if he has to tackle that kid in open space. So we are just trying to get people out in space and create mismatches and give our kids the best chance to be successful.”
The Wolverines will wrap up spring practice on May 17 with their Navy/Cardinal Game at 7 p.m.