The phrase “rebuilding year” is thrown around a lot in the sports world. This term is used to describe a team that is going through a massive phase of change in personnel and leadership. While the Milken Wildcat football team had a great deal of success in last year’s season, with so many graduating seniors, they now find themselves in the middle of a rebuilding year.
This year’s graduating senior class made up the majority of the football team for the past two years. Athletes from the Class of 2015 have carried the weight of the team, whereas Milken struggled to produce consistent numbers of seniors in previous year. However, with this group of players now gone, a gaping hole is left in the team. The senior football players filled 12 of the possible 16 starting spots on the roster, not to mention Adam Alkalai’s key role on special teams as the kicker and punter. Finding replacements for these positions will not be easy.
Slater Girocco ‘15, Jake Fleshner ‘15, Dakota Rosen ‘15, and Adam Alkalai ‘15 supplied most of the offensive firepower that Milken had this past year. Fleshner constantly made incredible plays; Rosen and Alkalai were the “go to” guys on the offensive side of the ball; and Girocco set the record for most touchdowns for the Milken Wildcats.
But it isn’t just offensive explosiveness that Milken will miss. The Wildcats will also lose two out of three starting offensive linemen and most of their starters on defense. These are huge losses. However, the veterans on this team are unafraid.
Third-year player Michael Reisman ’16 had a lot to comment in regard to this topic. “We are really going to miss the experience and talent that this last group of seniors brought,” said Reisman. “But we are prepared to move forward. We have a lot of young players who are ready to step up and contribute.”
However, it isn’t just Reisman who will look to play a bigger role for the Wildcats next year. Joshua Goldenstein ’16 and Michael Moadeb ’16 will also have to take on more responsibility. Goldenstein added, “I have learned a lot from upperclassmen like Jordan Ziegler [‘15] and Adam Zively [‘15] and now it is time for us to do the same.”
While the task of replacing more than half of their starters seems like a daunting task, the incoming seniors are up to the challenge and prepared to do whatever it takes to succeed in this upcoming season.