Tolleson coach displays confidence despite athlete losses

Photo by Mike Rincon
By Israel Gonzalez
The Tolleson Wolverines’ football roster will have at least eight different starters for the upcoming football season, but that hasn’t shaken the confidence of head coach Jason Wilke.
“It has been a long off-season. We’re ready to put work in play,” Wilke said. “We’re replacing quite a few starters on both sides of the ball. We had some good growth here in May and June. Now we have to keep growing here in camp.”
Tolleson will be losing eight starters on offense and defense to graduation. Among the biggest losses were linemen on both sides of the ball and some experience at wide receiver and defensive back, Wilke said. Only one lineman will be returning with varsity game experience. But the replacements are coming along nicely. 
“The guys that were inexperienced are definitely experienced now,” Wilke said. “And we’ll keep giving them experience until that first game August 25.” 
While having losses in linemen and defensive backs, core quarterbacks will be returning, including Patrick Ortega, who had 1,322 passing yards. Tolleson didn’t have any other big staff changes and instead will be adjusting to what they have.
“It’s always an advantage when you return your quarterback,” Wilke said. “We’ll look to keep expanding with our schemes to match their skill set.”
Tolleson had an overall record of 5-5 last year and ended the season with two wins. They finished in fourth place in section standings, but the team isn’t worried about looking too far ahead at other teams, Wilke said. 
“We’re just at one week at a time. We’re worried about Sandra Day O’Connor right now,” Wilke said. “Obviously in our section, Westview has won our region and section for the last six or seven years or so. They have been the so called ‘king’ in our region. So definitely a focal point in our region.” 
Last year Tolleson had a 2-3 record in their section, with losses to Millennium, Valley Vista and Westview. Wilke expects more of the same competition this year in the section.  
“Last year it was very competitive. I expect that again this year. I think teams are improving,” Wilke said. “Millennium, I know they had a good summer. Copper Canyon had a good summer. It should be very competitive and should be some great Friday night games.”
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