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Preseason Playbook 2021: Johnson City Wildcats

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JOHNSON CITY, N.Y. -- Looking around the practice field in Johnson City, you'll see plenty of talent, and plenty of guys who are ready to put in the work to succeed.

"We've had a lot of energy during our practices, we're all excited to be out here," said senior running back Braeden Miller.

"Everything's been going good, everybody has been working hard. You know it's a team effort, but it's looking good so far," senior Damari Johnson said.

The Wildcats only won twice in the spring season, which is something they want to improve on in the fall. They believe they have all the pieces to the puzzle, they just have to figure out how to build that puzzle.

"Working hard and putting everything together. We have talent, we have speed, we have size," said Johnson. "It's just how we can put it all together, that's really what it is."

"Before, we had a lot of issues with discipline. And a lot of those guys that had those problems are maturing and getting better," said senior center Luke Tripp. "I think that now that everyone is in control and is able to do what they need to do we'll be able to make everything work together."

Part of building that success starts with working hard, which Johnson City does in droves. But another important aspect is veteran leadership. The Wildcats lost a good chunk of seniors last year, so it's up to the new crop of seniors to take the reins and guide the up-and-comers.

"I feel like I'm leading by example," Tripp said. "I'm trying to work hard every day, show up on time, and be ready for everything that the coaches tell us to do. No complaining."

"They have kind of just jumped into those spots and situations as team leaders. So far they've done a really good job at it," said head coach Todd Place. "They put in the work over the summer. That handful of guys jumped at the opportunity to be the leaders on the team this year knowing that we lost quite a few from last year."

As the season approaches, the Wildcats are taking everything one step at a time.

"I want us to improve every game, every day," Miller said. "We've had a rough few years but I think we've got a lot of good athletes, a lot of good pieces."

When the Wildcats take the field in Week One against Union-Endicott, they hope they'll have that puzzle all put together.

Jacob Russo

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