EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – Mater Dei football was one of the biggest surprises of last season.
After starting the year with a 1-4 record, they snuck up on everybody, winning their next eight games on the path to a regional championship.
It’s safe to say they won’t be sneaking up on anybody this season.
A good chunk of that championship pedigree is still intact this season. Junior quarterback Mason Wunderlich will once again be under center, coming off a year he threw for over 1000 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Wunderlich has put an emphasis on developing his game in the offseason, shedding weight and participating in football camps to ensure he’s ready to lead the Wildcats this season.
“This team is kind of like my family, and I just want to be around them,” Wunderlich said. “I’ve got a summer in to keep working hard. We’ve just got to be ready to play good competition everywhere we play. All nine games are teams we have to win (against). I’m just ready to play and show everybody what we’re made of, but we’ve got to make sure we don’t overlook anybody.”
They’ll combine that with a loaded backfield of Joey Pierre and Bryce Humphrey that accounted for 1000 yards rushing and 14 touchdowns.
The biggest losses for the Wildcats come at receiver, with seniors Landon Folz, Ryan Taylor and Preston Turner all graduating. The trio amassed over 1000 yards of offense last year, but rising senior Eli McDurmon seems poised to make an impact in his final year after recording 482 yards and 6 touchdowns in 2020.
“We’ve got an experienced back field,” McDurmon said of the Wildcats. “We’ve got a good defense coming back. We’ve got a bunch of guys who want to play and get better. A young receiving core, which is good. Give some guys some good playing time, and hopefully score some points.”
Head coach Mike Goebel is expecting a balanced attack on offense this year, and a solid group of returners on defense could complement the Wildcats even more.
Players like senior James Ralph and Nick Boots will likely be asked to anchor the Mater Dei defense after stellar campaigns last season. The duo compose a large senior class of 19 players that should be critical to Mater Dei’s success.
“I’m very excited for this year,” Boots said. “We have a lot of senior starting in practice this year, but we’ve got a lot of returning seniors. It’s going to be a good year.”
Mater Dei has the pieces to be playing deep into November, but it’s all a matter of putting them together.
“The excitement is if this team will put their minds to it and their bodies to it, as far as work ethic, we hope to be competitive on Friday nights,” Goebel said. “Last year was last year, and it’s a brand new year. We haven’t proven anything yet.”
The Wildcats will be trying to win their third-straight sectional championship this season. That journey starts when they open up at home against Central on August 20th.
(This story was originally published on July 23, 2021)