OHATCHEE – With all the changes at Ohatchee High during the offseason, a new motto seemed fitting.
After the Indians finished the 2012 season with a 2-8 record, the new motto, “Expect to Win,” may be an indication of just how much has changed at The Creek Bank.
“Every time we get on the bus I want them to expect us to win,” Ohatchee coach Nathan Wehunt said. “The year I was at Cherokee County and we won the state championship, that was our motto, and it’s engraved inside our rings. Our thought process that year wasn’t wondering how bad we were going to lose or if we were going to win, it was we’re going to win. That’s what our thought process needs to be here.
“Obviously, we have a tough schedule, and it’s going to be a long year, but every time we step on the field or bus we need to expect to win. We preach it. The players are excited and that’s definitely an understatement.”
The excitement came from the work players have done during the offseason. Before summer workouts, the effort was visible in Ohatchee’s 20-7 victory in its spring game against Class 2A, Region 6 opponent Pleasant Valley.
“We’re just getting our mindset right, doing work and coming together as a team,” senior defensive end Quin Williams said. “In the past weren’t really as strong as we could have been and people weren’t holding each other accountable for things. We feel like we’re going to have a good year this year. We’re shooting for playoffs.”
Despite big changes around the program, the defense will stay the same systemically, however. While Williams returns to the line, he said “head hunters” Kole Stephens and Coleman McCombs are back at linebacker. Wehunt added the Indians will feature the same 3-4 defensive scheme that he has run his whole career.
The offense, however, will see several changes. Senior Dillon Parker makes the move to quarterback after spending last year at wide receiver and safety. He said Ohatchee will run some veer offense while adding in plays out of the pistol along with several passing plays, as well.
“Dillon has made the adjustment pretty well and played well in the spring game,” Wehunt said. “We have some new guys on the offensive line to fill in some spots. We’re going into more of a pistol-attack on offense so there will be a couple more running backs in the backfield. There are several new guys.”
Of the multiple running backs spending time in the backfield, senior Tristan Allen is back for the Indians. Although the halfback only stands 5-foot-8 and 185 pounds, Wehunt joked that he runs like he’s 6-1 and 240 pounds.
“I’m hoping I’m going to have a good year,” Allen said. “My teammates are what make it happen, though, especially the O line. Everyone just works together. We’re looking really good on offense.”
While Ohatchee has put in months of hard work to set up a good season, Wehunt said kids want to see evidence and now that they have seen some that is what’s generating the excitement. And although hopes are high, the Indians are still realistic about the challenge Region 6 brings.
“Our goal is to make the playoffs, but obviously we want to take things game-by-game,” Wehunt said. “We start the season with a good White Plains team and we play in a tough region. We have to take it week-by-week, but if we stay healthy then I think we can make the playoffs. If we look past Week 1 then that’s a flaw on our part.”
But, for now, Ohatchee players just want to step back on the field to start what has the potential to be a special season.
“It’s itching really bad to get back on the field. I can’t wait for the first game,” Williams said. “Now it’s strictly business. We’re trying to get back to the old days of Ohatchee football.”
Sports Writer Brandon Miller: 256-235-3575. On Twitter @bmiller_star.
Ohatchee at a glance
Head coach: Nathan Wehunt (2-8, including 1-6 in Class 2A, Region 6, in one year at Ohatchee)
2012 record: 2-8 (1-6); Finished seventh in Region 6. No playoff berth.
Outlook: Wehunt’s first season coaching the Indians is nothing short of an afterthought as Ohatchee prepares to take the field at the Creek Bank later this month. High expectations all start with running back Tristan Allen, who shined bright for Ohatchee last season. If the Indians are going to get in the win column more often, it all starts with Allen.
Ohatchee's 2013 schedule
Aug. 30 vs. White Plains
Sept. 6 at Fultondale
Sept. 13 vs. Ranburne
Sept. 20 vs. Woodland
Sept. 27 at Westbrook Christian
Oct. 4 at Wellborn
Oct. 11 vs. Pleasant Valley
Oct. 18 at Vincent
Oct. 25 at Victory Christian
Nov. 1 vs. Gaylesville