Wilder High School
Conference: 1AD2 Long Pin Conference
Classification: 1A D2
Head Coach: Kyle DalSoglio
Years as Head Coach: 7th Season
Previous Experience: Eastern Oregon University (Grad Assistant)
Record Last Year: 9-2
State Titles: 1988
Returning Players with Honors:
Michael (2nd-Team All-State WR)
Puga 2nd-Team All-Conference
Photo By: Willy Harris - #20 Caulen Michael
“Key Players” lost from last year:
QB AJ Castellanos (1st-Team All-State)
OL Ben Rodriguez
OL Bryan Miramontes
Incoming “impact” players:
WR/DB Fabian Blanco (Jr)
WR/DB Ezequiel Vargas (Soph)
QB/WR/DB Cristian Aguilar (Fr)
TE/DE Ismael Cortes (Fr)
Written by: Will Hoenike (@willhoenike)
The Wilder Wildcats provided one of the better, feel-good stories of the 2014 season on the local high school football fields.
The eight-man team from the small, rural Canyon County town out-ran teams all the way to the 1A Division 2 state championship game before falling to Lighthouse Christian.
They did it with a high-powered offense that piled up 676 points, eclipsing the 80-point mark three times, en route to a final record of 9-2.
The trick for 7th-year head coach Kyle DalSoglio is trying to duplicate that success without first-team All-State quarterback AJ Castellanos. As a senior last fall, Castellanos scored 73 … that’s right … 73 total touchdowns, 35 passing, 34 rushing, three receiving and one defensive touchdown.
DalSoglio will hand the keys to his offense to the player who was on the receiving end of 25 of Castellanos’ touchdown passes – Caulen Michael. The junior spent last season moving around the field as a sophomore: catching 50 passes (25 scores), rushing the ball 82 times (11 scores) and throwing three scoring passes. In all, he put up over 2,000 yards of total offense.
As an encore, the 2nd-Team All-State receiver shifts to quarterback for his junior season to take on an even-bigger role with the team.
While Michael was definitely the go-to playmaker last season, he’ll have help this season in the form of returning All-Conference running back Saul Rodriguez, a senior, and sophomore tight end Oscar Puga. Those three will be tasked with offsetting the loss of not only Castellanos, but also experienced guards Ben Rodriguez and Bryan Miramontes.
The Wildcats return Jacob Aguilar at center and freshman Ismael Cortez could see some time at tight end to help out the blocking and passing schemes.
“Very young team,” DalSoglio said of his group. “Only two returning seniors with (playing) experience.”
That will put pressure on the experienced playmakers like Michael, who will also be a focal point on defense. During his sophomore season, Michael averaged 13.5 tackles per game, including twelve behind the line of scrimmage.
Junior Fabian Blanco, sophomore Ezeqiel Vargas and freshman Cristian Aguilar will line up behind Michael on defense in the secondary and one of the keys DalSoglio has identified for Wilder this season – “take away the big play.”
The Wildcats open the season with a rematch of the 2014 1A Division 2 state championship game, playing at Lighthouse Christian in Twin Falls on September 4.
The schedule-makers didn’t do Wilder many favors this season as the team will play five of their eight games on the road, including back-to-back matchups against conference bully Council and neighboring rival Notus on October 16 and October 23.
Wilder will need to win on the road and have secondary players step into primary roles if the Wildcats hope to make another deep run in the 1A Division 2 state playoffs.