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Wildcat Revival


From the dpeths of Metro to league contenders, Westview football thinking big

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Westview senior quarterback Austin Brisbee broke out last season as a junior, garnering Metro Player of the Year and all-league honors and helping the Wildcats take second in league.

At the forefront of Westview’s out-of-nowhere resurrection from the dreary Metro cellar to viable league contenders were three previously little-known players who by season’s end were household names.

Austin Brisbee — the spindly, seed-slinging signal caller with rodeo cowboy toughness — and Teagan Lind and Ian Myers — Brisbee’s two Division One-sized tight ends, who are too big for defensive backs and too fast for linebackers — helped carry the Wildcats back to relevancy.

A once-proud program that fell on hard times and didn’t win a Metro game for three seasons experienced groundbreaking success, placing fourth in league, and taking a trio of conference games before reaching the first round of the 6A playoffs.

These three then-juniors — along with a victory-starved senior core that had a Texas-sized chip on its shoulder — were Westview’s nucleus last year, a young core who jointly grew exponentially through the cast-iron cauldron that is the Metro League.

Better yet, Brisbee, Lind and Myers are all back toting the Westview torch this fall leading a young, but very imaginably fericous Wildcat team. Last season they guided the Wildcats back into the limelight and onto the state’s radar. The challenge now is staying there and gaining ground toward the top of the conference.

“Last year was a stepping block,” said Myers. “Hopefully, we continue our momentum and just keep things rolling. We want to bring this program back up and maybe get a Metro League title.”

“I want to see them lead this program,” said Westview offensive coordinator Dominic Ferraro. “Coach (Greg Fisher) talks about servant leadership and I want to see those guys take charge of this offense and be the leaders. The production will come. Those guys will get it done. They’ve done a really nice job this offseason of being senior leaders.”

Brisbee experienced an accelerated accession from JV star as a sophomore to one of Metro’s offensive players of the year, throwing for a league-high 2,586 passing yards, 22 touchdowns while also running for five scores. It was an explosive, unforeseen season for Brisbee who piloted Westview’s no-huddle, pell-mell offense with poise and cool tact, but one the field general attributed to his team and its efforts in providing a steady supply of support around him.

“I had a good year, but it was because of my teammates boosting me up,” said Brisbee. “I had great guys around me, two 6-foot-4 dudes who were great receivers, a great offensive line. I couldn’t have done it without them.”

A year older, stronger and wiser with a year of game reps and situations to resort to, the game’s become even more clear to Brisbee, who has a sure grasp of Westview’s phonebook-thick playbook and the wherewithal to deploy it on the gridiron. Ferraro commended Brisbee for exerting himself to pack muscle on his 170-pound frame in order to handle the hard shots from onrushing blitzers and off-the -edge pass rushers.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Westview senior quarterback Austin Brisbee threw for a league-high 2,586 passing yards and 22 touchdowns while also running for five scores last year.

A sneaky runner who can tuck-and-go when chaos arises, Brisbee might be Metro’s best dual-threat signal caller, a triggerman apt at executing zone-option reads or designed rollouts by Ferraro. Last season Brisbee said he was “one of the quieter guys” who let the seniors take the leadership role, but as a senior ought to emerge as more of a leader in the huddle and the locker room.

“After a whole year of playing, you come out here and know what to expect,” said Brisbee. “You know what you need to do to work harder. Knowing what you need to do and then doing it gives you lots of confidence.”

Westview likes to play fast all the time and wear down opponents by making them line up quickly and have to make hasty decisions on the fly. Brisbee’s responsibility is to know each play inside and out and not just be aware of his duties, but of all those around him: running backs, wide receivers, tight ends and linemen. In essence, the senior is an extension of Ferraro and head coach Greg Fisher on the field. The coaches will rapidly relay the play calls in from the sideline, and it’s Brisbee’s job to get everyone in the right spot and ensure the offense runs smoothly.

“He’s really intelligent,” said Ferraro of Brisbee. “I don’t know if you can see that from the stands on Friday night. He understands the system and what we do. And, he’s a late bloomer. He has just such an upside and tons of potential. He’s going to get bigger and stronger. I think he’s got a really high ceiling, not in terms of what he can do this year, but if he wants to play football in college.”

Few quarterbacks had better security blankets than Lind and Myers, a pair of new age tight ends with surefire route running skills, solid, big hands and the toughness to evade contact and make plays in the passing game for Brisbee. The tandem both garnered all-Metro second-team honors last year and were frequent targets of Brisbee’s who leaned on the towering 6-foot-4 Myers and the 6-foot-5 Lind when times got tough and the pocket was collapsing.

“When nobody’s open, you can always fall back on the big boys,” said Brisbee. “When things fall apart, they’re the guys I’m looking for to make the play. You know they’re going to make the catch. I can always count on them when the receivers are maybe not playing the way they can.”

Myers said he and Lind both work hard and are out there to help the team any way they can to keep the team going. They’re each capable of putting their hand on the ground and cracking a defensive end in the run game, but Myers and Lind can also make hay running routes and spotting space in the opposing defense.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Westview tight end Ian Myers was a frequent target of quarterback Austin Brisbee last year, giving the Wildcats a big, physical target in the passing game.

“Having two guys that basically know the whole offense, we can play basically anywhere,” said Myers. “We can do any formation, double-tight, split backs. We can do anything we want and that really diversifies our offense. I like being that renaissance man who can do everything: block, run the ball, catch it, chuck those corners. I think we both we try to do everything we can.”

No revolution comes without a gory crux, an unforgettable, quintessential confrontation in which a team reaches a crossroads in its development and either cowers or crusades to victory. That game came in mid-October, when the still flying-under-the-radar Wildcats traveled to Southridge to take on the sixth-ranked Skyhawks and their slew of future collegiate commits.

Brisbee came into his own that night, throwing for four touchdowns and running for another all the while leading Westview’s go-ahead drive in the fourth quarter — the third fourth quarter comeback of the Wildcats’ season. Westview was 82 yards away from pay dirt when the offense took the field, down one, second place in Metro on the line. All Brisbee and the Wildcat offense did was storm down the gridiron—hitting Myers twice for 35 yards and taking advantage of two back-breaking Southridge penalties —before Jacob Sturtevant took a fly sweep on third and goal around the right side for the go-ahead, three-yard touchdown with 3:54 left in the fourth quarter. And, Myers (four catches, one TD) and Lind (five catches, 80 yards and one TD) were magnificent, taking Westview to a huge 42-41 victory that gave itself sole possession of second place in Metro.

“We were just building up the mountain the whole way, and that was our peaking point,” said Brisbee. “Our offense was just clicking. We were all on the same page. When (Southridge) would blitz, we’d have a hot route going right there. We really picked on the secondary, where they were weak.”

“We knew we could win that game if we played our best,” remembered Myers. “We came out and were just rolling. They came back (Southridge stormed back from a three-touchdown deficit), but we really had to dig deep. That built the character of our team. That was a really hard-fought win and a statement victory.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Westview tight end 6-foot-5 Teagan Lind gave quarterback Austin Brisbee Wildcats a tall target in the passing game last season. Lind was all-Metro both as a sophomore and a junior.

It’s trying contests such as the Southridge conquest, that not only build character as Myers alluded to, but also instill confidence for the future. Westview’s offense plans on being equally explosive if not more detonative than it was in 2013 with Brisbee at the helm and a horde of talented skill guys like Myers, Lind and Henry Sundin to hit through the air. At the end of last season, Westview head coach Greg Fisher openly said the Wildcats’ chief goal going into this season is to knock off Metro’s top powers and a bring a league title to 185th avenue. It’s a belief that’s been bought into by many of of the Wildcats.

“If they want to win Metro (Westview’s) going to have to bring it every night, because it’s not going to be easy,” said Ferraro. “There are a lot of good teams: Sunset, Beaverton, Southridge, Jesuit. Even the new teams are going to present a challenge. This league is tough top-to-bottom, so it’s going to be a rough go every week. We just have to bring ourselves physically and mentally every week.”

Ferraro said there’s an excitement building around the Wildcat program as the season approaches. There’s been a rekindled commitment to the weight room and putting in the extra time necessary to win a league title.

“We want to win every football game we play,” said Ferraro. “We’re all working for that same goal. We want to show Metro that we belong in that top group. We knew we could be there last year. Whether that happened was going to be up to the kids on Friday night and that’ll be the same story this year.”

Myers mentioned he and Lind will be on the field together at all times, presenting puzzling matchup quandaries for every Metro defensive coordinator on Westview’s docket. Brisbee alleged Westview has more talent, and said the key will be bonding as a team and mimicking last year’s tight-knit group.

“We want to win Metro,” said Brisbee. “We’re coming out hot. We’re working hard every day in the weight room. Hopefully we show out during the season because I want the hard work to pay off.”

Brisbee believes the Metro team that comes up with the best defense could take home the league crown. There are so many good offenses with Brisbee leading Westview, Sam Noyer navigating Beaverton, Sunset staking its claim with Willy Pflug and Jesuit’s Eric Restic readying to take the next step in his development, that whoever takes league will need a sound backbone.

“The sky’s the limit for us,” said Myers. “We just want to keep rolling into Metro. The first three games will really show who we are, because we have Southridge, Jesuit and Beaverton right away. That’ll be tough, but I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. It’s going to be a battle all year-long. We have to really dig deep and trust the guys beside us. Hopefully we can fight through it and take it all the way.”