Wellington High School head football coach Danny Mendoza is cautiously optimistic about the fall campaign ahead.
Mendoza is starting his second year leading the Wolverines football team. A year ago, everything was new for him with the Wolverines’ football program. Now, he’s used to the program and is very comfortable in his surroundings.
Mendoza has everything he needs to have a successful season — 13 capable assistant coaches, a first-class facility for practice and games, and a bumper crop of players.
“We have 85 players on the practice field, and we’ll dress 60 players every week,” Mendoza said. “Jerseys will be awarded to players based on how hard they work and what kind of effort we see in practice each week.”
Mendoza feels that when practices officially started Aug. 1, the Wolverines were ahead of the competition.
“Our players retained so much from last year, from this year’s spring practice, and from our 7-on-7 sessions this summer,” Mendoza said. “We have good camaraderie on our team right now.”
While football is a true team sport, Mendoza is expecting a number of players to lead by example so that other players can follow.
A few of those players are senior quarterback Ryan Anthony, senior running back/linebacker Garrens Catul, sophomore offensive and defensive lineman Jaymin Blake, and senior wide receiver Bryant Walker.
Anthony, a three-year starter, is a dual-threat quarterback who ran for 800 yards last year while passing for just more than 1,000 yards.
“Ryan has a lively arm, is a strong runner, and can throw the ball 70 yards in the air,” Mendoza said.
Catul may well be the focal point of Wellington’s offense this year.
“Garrens is a beast on the field, and we’re going to feed the beast,” Mendoza said. “He’s 5-foot-11 and weighs 225 pounds. He’s a very strong runner.”
Blake has the size to dominate anybody he faces along the line of scrimmage. He’s 6-foot-5 and weighs 320 pounds. He plays both on the offensive and defensive lines.
“He’ll be as good as he wants to be,” Mendoza said.
For Wellington to be successful this year, Mendoza needs Blake to play like an All-American. If he does, the Wolverines will be tough to stop.
Walker will do his job when Anthony throws the ball in his direction. “Bryant is smart, reliable, has good hands and has a high level of athleticism,” Mendoza said.
After watching and coaching in last Friday night’s kick-off classic game against Orlando Christian Prep, which Wellington lost 21-16, Mendoza realized that his team is far from perfect, but the players and coaches remain committed to achieving excellence on the gridiron.
“We just have to finish offensively,” Mendoza said. “We left three touchdowns on the field with 400 yards of offense. Defensively, we just have to settle in and get back to fundamentals and assignment football. Overall, we feel good about what we saw. We’ll get it right.”
In the game against Orlando Christian, Wellington was led by Anthony, who was 10 for 18 for 220 yards. He threw for two touchdowns. On the ground, Anthony had 13 rushes for 90 yards.
Wellington begins its regular season Friday, Aug. 26 on the road against Park Vista High School in a 6:30 p.m. non-district game. Wellington’s home opener is not until Friday, Sept. 9 against Jensen Beach High School with a 6:30 p.m. kickoff.
Of Wellington’s three games against its local rivals — Palm Beach Central, Royal Palm Beach and Seminole Ridge high schools — all three games are away.
Wellington’s three district opponents this season are Forest Hill, John I. Leonard and Palm Beach Central high schools.
The Wolverines play Palm Beach Central on Friday, Oct. 28 at 6:30 p.m. In addition to being an all-important district game, the winner gets possession of the coveted Wellington Cup.
The Broncos currently retain ownership of the cup. “One of our many goals this year is to regain possession of the Wellington Cup,” Mendoza said.
He remains cautiously optimistic that his Wolverines will do just that, and then some.