Whaler football looking for revenge today against West Bridgewater

The Whaler football team found themselves in a defensive battle on the road last year against the West Bridgewater Wildcats, losing that game 16-6. West Bridgewater head coach Justin Kogler knows that today the Whalers will try to ride their experienced offensive playmakers to more points and a better all-around effort this time around.

“We cannot give Nantucket extra possessions and we cannot let them score on 40, 50, or 60-yard touchdown runs or catches,” he said. “We need to force them to drive the length of the field and we need to make sure number one (running back Justin Bloise) and number two (wide receiver) Makai Bodden are contained. We can’t give up quick scores. I don’t think there is a defense that Nantucket will play that could tackle these guys in open space.”

Nantucket defensive coordinator Mark Willett said that the game will be won in the trenches and sees defensive lineman Zayvion Stanley as one of the keys to the game for Nantucket entering Saturday afternoon.

“I know saying the offensive and defensive line is cliché but they really are the keys to the game,” Willett said. “Our two or three interior defensive lineman and our two or three interior offensive lineman is where it is at. West Bridgewater loves to run the ball up the middle so if we can’t stop that there are going to be problems for us. Offensively we need to give (quarterback) Carlos Aguilar more time back there.”

Bloise and Bodden continue to be the anchors of the Whaler offense and are the ones who end up shining on the stat sheet. Bloise said on the record several times this season to The Current that without his offensive line, he wouldn’t be in position to score touchdowns.

“Whichever team wins up front is probably going to win the game,” Willett said. “Sometimes you can make up for offensive and defensive lineman mistakes with great athletes but since both sides have great athletes we need our boys in the middle to step up for us.”

Kogler said the Wildcats are a very similar team to last year. He said they lost a couple of linemen to graduation but continue to emphasize a physical style of football to their players. He said all of his skill players returned and a majority of his defense remains intact.

“We are pretty balanced on offense,” Kogler said. “You will see number two Will DeLuca and number 23 DJ Amaya. Those guys are our primary running backs. Number five Joey LeClerc and number 11 Aidan Baker are our main receivers. Then we have our quarterback Nathan Razza who wears number eight.”

Whaler fans will see several West Bridgewater players playing on both sides of the football today, similarly to what Nantucket does each week. Fans can also expect to see the Wildcats running the Wing T.

Number 22 Devon Hensley plays middle linebacker for the Wildcats and will likely have some noticeable collisions with the Whaler running backs. Sophomore linebacker Christian Packard is listed at 5’9, 150 pounds but plays much bigger than his size, leading West Bridgewater in tackles this season.

“We know how talented Nantucket’s athletes are so we need to contain the edge on these guys,” Kogler said. “There were a couple of times where Nauset didn’t contain the edge last week and (Bloise) made them pay. He is an explosive athlete. Nobody Nantucket plays can catch him in open space.”

Kogler said defensive ends JJ Bennett, Jeremy Caspe, and linebacker/defensive end Ian Williams do a good job containing the edge and causing havoc in the backfield. He said that he has emphasized to his tackles that they need to win that battle. He said Stanley is someone who the Wildcats will also need to keep an eye on.

“I love the way (Stanley) comes off the ball,” Kogler said. “He is a very good defensive tackle. But as good as all these kids are the key to this game is we can’t turn the ball over. We can’t give them extra possessions. We have to make them drive the length of the field. I can’t emphasize that enough.”

Willett said the Whalers are prepared for West Bridgewater to dedicate resources toward neutralizing Stanley.

“They are going to have no choice but to do something with Zayvion,” Willett said. “He really is the key. Zayvion had a great game last year (two sacks) against West Bridgewater. He has been my most consistent defensive player. I love having him. He always says yes coach, no coach, never complains, none of that. He is such an important part of this team.”

Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30 pm.

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