Riley Wildcats having fun, finding success under new head football coach

Published: Sep. 28, 2022 at 1:24 AM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Before the 2022 season started, there was optimism that the Riley High School football team could have a pretty good year.

But after six weeks, the Wildcats are 4-2, and new head coach Darrick Lee says he believes this team is four plays away from being undefeated.

Lee also says the team’s two biggest goals are still right there in front of them – competing for an NIC North-South Division crown and competing for a Sectional title.

The Wildcats say It feels good to be on a path towards their first winning season since 2018.

“It feels good because the message and the vision that we’ve been stressing to our guys since March has started to come to fruition,” Lee says. “The kids are believing in us. Their parents are believing in us. The people in the building are believing in us. And we’re starting to see a difference, not just on the field, but also in the classroom.”

Riley offensive lineman Marcus Henderson agrees.

“We’re doing a lot better than we have the past two years,” says offensive lineman Marcus Henderson. “It’s a really good feeling. The whole atmosphere, coaching in general. It’s all taken a lot more serious. We come out here and overall, after being so serious, it just leads to us being able to have fun because we’re actually winning games and doing a lot better.”

So, what has gone right for the Wildcats this year? Logistically, their skill guys are just as good as they were hoping for, and they’ve been able to get the ball into the hands of their best skill guys.

Off the field, Coach Lee is building a culture that has brought the team together.

“We’re starting to get to the point to where guys aren’t caring about who is getting what stats, or who is doing what,” Lee says. “We just care about team success. And that’s what we’ve been wanting to build – that family atmosphere and the ‘we before me’ attitude. It’s a we thing, not a me thing, man. And if we do everything together, we could be tough to beat.”

Riley faces its toughest test of the season on Friday, as the Wildcats host the undefeated New Prairie Cougars.