SportsFOX 17 Blitz


Paw Paw hopes playoff experience gets younger players ready for bigger roles

The Red Wolves have reached the district final 2 straight years
Paw Paw football
Posted at 3:26 PM, Aug 19, 2021
The Blitz preseason tour visits with Paw Paw seniors Jose Valverde and Dennis Strey
The Blitz preseason tour visits with Paw Paw head coach Matt Stephens

The Paw Paw football team is coming off three straight playoff appearances and the three postseason games it played in 2020 could end up being very important for the 2021 team.

The Red Wolves graduated several two-way starters from last season's 6-3 team and hopes those extra games at the end of last year will help the younger players coming up.

"We are definitely going to be inexperienced walking on the field," sixth-year Paw Paw head coach Matt Stephens said. "We feel comfortable with our system, our kids have done our system all the way up through their high school in middle school years. It's just, game time experience, we were lucky enough last year to be able to play a couple more games than than other schools. Some of these kids that were sophomores, they sniffed what the postseason felt like we were lucky enough to play nine games and a lot of schools were not. So we're hoping that carries us."

Paw Paw football
Paw Paw football

The place the Red Wolves are most experienced is the offensive line.

Four of their seven, including the tight ends, return for 2021.

"I feel like this year, we've got a pretty good o-line," senior center and kicker Jose Valverde said. "We're just gonna keep working at it."

Paw Paw football
Paw Paw football

The team got in its scrimmage this week at Wayland, which is important to get ready for the first game.

"We just love to get that opportunity to hit another guy before week one in that game," senior offensive and defensive tackle Dennis Strey said. "You can only do so much when you're hitting your own players, we only know how good we are practicing against our own guys. This gives us an opportunity to showcase and see who we really are."

The Red Wolves are scheduled to kickoff the season on Thursday at Three Rivers.