ETSN.fm Class 3A Preseason Poll: No. 6, Winona Wildcats
No one knew quite what to expect from Winona once the 2016 playoffs arrived. The Wildcats had lost three of their first four games, and dropped back-to-back contests in district.
But once the postseason got going, Winona morphed into a different team, journeying all the way to the state quarterfinals. It was the furthest any Wildcats team had advanced in the playoffs since 1986.
Winona begins the 2017 season ranked No. 6 in our preseason Class 3A poll.
Fourth-year head coach Keylon Kincade has led his team to the playoffs in back-to-back seasons, and if Winona can get there again this year, it would mark the first time the Wildcats have appeared in the playoffs three consecutive seasons since 1988-90.
With 13 returning starters, that's a safe bet.
Winona lost a couple of playmakers to graduation in quarterback Braxton Kincade and leading rusher Dee Wheeler, but there are plenty of players ready to step in.
Sophomore Quindarius Johnson figures to be the featured back after he posted 1,022 yards and 17 touchdowns as a freshman. He also was a force on the defensive side of the ball with five interceptions, three forced fumbles, and a defensive TD.
KJ Kincade will do a little bit of everything on offense, while linebacker Zach Francis, defensive lineman La'Darion Jefferson, and defensive back Dakota Pullum will spearhead the defense.
Winona will get tested right off the bat with games against Arp and Elysian Fields, two teams it lost to begin 2016. The Wildcats then close out District 8-3A Division II play against league contenders Harmony and Edgewood.